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My last 2 electric bills were LARGE as this winter has been unusually cold. My heat is electric. The refrigerator/freezer broke. The microwave died last year (built-in). One window is broken, but it is double-paned and only the outer pane is broken (cracked).

I have no debt except for lot rent for 13yo used manufactured home (trailer), electric, Internet, regular car maintenance on a used 13 y.o. Honda. I use coupons like a fanatic.

I have little savings and all used furniture. Every bit of clothes I have fit in 1 dresser, 1 chest of drawers and 1 average sized closet (not a walk-in), So, I can safely say that my lifestyle is not extravagant by any stretch of the imagination. I am 63 and in good health (except for financially *s*) and I live alone.

That's the background of how I live. Now for fixing the problem. I was depressed, but started researching on the Internet ways to fix stuff one at a time. Then, much to my surprise, I found out that there are "green" people who forego refrigeration and heat as a matter of choice! This started giving me a new perspective on things. Soooo...I've been without a refrigeration for about a month now, I turn off the water heater unless it is needed (flip the circuit breaker), and the thermostat on the heat is set at 50F. It's kicked on only twice that I know of. I wear warm, layered clothes in the house. If my hands get cold, I warm them on a cup of hot tea or soup. I still use the dryer for some things, but I hang up most of them in the bathroom or where ever.

Have any of you done this as a matter of choice or as a matter of self-defense so that you don't feel like you're being held hostage to the electric company?
 

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My husband and I only turn the electric water heater on (we use the circuit breaker method too) about 20 mins before taking a shower and then turn it off immediately before getting in the shower. So it's never on for more than 40 mins per day and usually not that much.

We do this by choice but also because it's what EVERYONE in our country does - I don't know anyone who leaves their water heater on all day. In the US, I didn't even know how to turn off the water heater!

We also have electric heat (just a single space heater) in the bedroom so the rest of the house (the bathroom and the kitchen/living area) is unheated, so yeah I guess we also don't really use heat the way most Americans do. When I use the oven, when I'm done using it, I just leave the door open and that warms up the kitchen a little.

We don't have a washing machine or dryer so I do all of that by hand. That's not by choice but because we can't afford to buy them and have them shipped out to the island.
 

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Great idea...

I believe we as a country our wasteful....things start to freeze at 32 degrees fahreneheit... so i understand leaving it above that because frozen pipes etc or no fun to deal with and would be very expensive. I want to thank you for this post...My family including i waste way more more than we ever should... we could clothe, feed, house 2-3 more people if we chose to live this frugal life style you speak off. I agree i hate being indebted to the electric company, the grocery store, and whatever out there...I have to have my internet though...I feel that it keeps me sane...so off i go to turn down the heat and time to declutter...
 

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My husband and I only turn the electric water heater on (we use the circuit breaker method too) about 20 mins before taking a shower and then turn it off immediately before getting in the shower. So it's never on for more than 40 mins per day and usually not that much.

We do this by choice but also because it's what EVERYONE in our country does - I don't know anyone who leaves their water heater on all day. In the US, I didn't even know how to turn off the water heater!

We also have electric heat (just a single space heater) in the bedroom so the rest of the house (the bathroom and the kitchen/living area) is unheated, so yeah I guess we also don't really use heat the way most Americans do. When I use the oven, when I'm done using it, I just leave the door open and that warms up the kitchen a little.

We don't have a washing machine or dryer so I do all of that by hand. That's not by choice but because we can't afford to buy them and have them shipped out to the island.
Thank you for helping to validate my choices. I was feeling depressed and deprived for a short period of time. Now, I feel as if I am being sensible as well as being more mindful of not squandering resources. I feel fortunate in that I have everything that I need. I am not sure as to how or why we (at least in my country), feel as if we are entitled to heat & hot water on demand 24/7. It is the norm here. I don't know how it got to be that way, but somehow it did and now, if people do not have it, they feel deprived (even though it's not not needed on demand). Thank you again!:flowers:
 

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I believe we as a country our wasteful....things start to freeze at 32 degrees fahreneheit... so i understand leaving it above that because frozen pipes etc or no fun to deal with and would be very expensive. I want to thank you for this post...My family including i waste way more more than we ever should... we could clothe, feed, house 2-3 more people if we chose to live this frugal life style you speak off. I agree i hate being indebted to the electric company, the grocery store, and whatever out there...I have to have my internet though...I feel that it keeps me sane...so off i go to turn down the heat and time to declutter...
I agree with you on the Internet! I do not go out for entertainment of any kind, so this is my special treat to myself. Maybe you could take the small step of flipping the circuit breaker for the water heater off when you go to bed at night and then flip it back on in the a.m. Or, replace 1 or 2 light bulbs with the high efficiency type. Here's what I read on the Energy Star website about the CFL light bulbs:

"If every American home replaced just one light with a light that's earned the ENERGY STAR, we would save enough energy to light 3 million homes for a year, save about $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year, equivalent to those from about 800,000 cars."

Light bulbs (CFLs) : ENERGY STAR
 

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Thank you for helping to validate my choices. I was feeling depressed and deprived for a short period of time. Now, I feel as if I am being sensible as well as being more mindful of not squandering resources. I feel fortunate in that I have everything that I need. I am not sure as to how or why we (at least in my country), feel as if we are entitled to heat & hot water on demand 24/7. It is the norm here. I don't know how it got to be that way, but somehow it did and now, if people do not have it, they feel deprived (even though it's not not needed on demand). Thank you again!
:D You're welcome! I think it's 99% how you look at it. I grew up in Virginia (*waving*) and we had a HUGE hot water heater in the basement and if the water wasn't piping hot all the time it was time to scream "DAD!!!!!! There's NO HOT WATER" (which wasn't true - it just maybe wasn't hot enough to steam up the bathroom!). Once I got to a situation where I didn't have all the stuff I used to think you "had to have": washer/dryer, dishwasher, microwave, etc, I realized they aren't "needs," they are "modern conveniences" but people lived without them for a long time and still do in MOST of the world, now that I think of it. When most people you know don't have those things, all of a sudden it stops being a big deal and you don't feel sorry for yourself because it's just "normal." But if you DO feel down about it, you could try what I do when I get mad at my "un-American" kitchen and bathroom: I remind myself how much better for the environment it is!
 

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I don't use my electric baseboard heaters anymore, because you can see the meter spinning (or at least, you could before I got a "smart" meter) every time they were running. I, too, have a small space heater in my bedroom, but I run it for about 10 minutes before going to bed, with the door closed, and the room stays warm enough that I can go to sleep without feeling cold.

I haven't tried the water heater, although I like the idea. My circuit breakers are all mislabeled (maybe something I should correct, but they were labeled that way when I moved in and I'm lazy), so it would be a trial and error thing.
 

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We keep our thermostat down too.I say if your cold put on a sweater,my husband just wants to turn up the heat,so lots of battles here.When family comes to visit they always ask wheres the heat.I used to turn it up for them,but seeing even then they are wearing their coats in the house saying its still cold,and I am sweating with a t shirt on.Now when they complain I just say welcome to country living.
 

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Years ago DH and I installed a timing device on our water heater. It was called Little Gray Box or something like that, and we got it at Lowes. It turns the water heater on and off for us twice a day - so it's on from 5-9am to accomodate morning showers, and 5-9 pm to accomodate dishwashing and evening showers. It cost, if I recall $65, and we recoupled that in the first three months on our electric bill.
 

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thank you... i think i see a little gray box in our future..

i am okay with the frugal living but dh has a harder time with it. He grew up without most modern convenience and i do mean modern convenience...he use to have to go cut a hole in the pond to get water to flush the toilet...which was his job..he was one of 7 kids...and the sad thing is...they could have had running water...i believe his dad was just lazy....anywho...so he has a harder time with it all...not that he won't try it, it is almost like he forgets etc...however after this post i am going to try and be more remindful in a nice way....He he...not worth arguing over....
Years ago DH and I installed a timing device on our water heater. It was called Little Gray Box or something like that, and we got it at Lowes. It turns the water heater on and off for us twice a day - so it's on from 5-9am to accomodate morning showers, and 5-9 pm to accomodate dishwashing and evening showers. It cost, if I recall $65, and we recoupled that in the first three months on our electric bill.
 

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We are in our 3rd year of not being held hostage by the propane company. That's exactly my words when hubby and I made the decision to go outside wood boiler furance. This is our 3rd winter using wood for our only heat source, and it runs our hot water heater fall, winter, and spring also. When summer comes, I have to flip the breaker back on for the hot water to be powered by electric :(
Our power company now charges a delivery charge so even if we do everything frugal, we still can't get below $ 100 a month. Last month, just for the delivery charge, it was $ 95. We had a big bill of $ 165 because the month before they under estimated instead of actual use. Bet I start calling in the meter reading once a month again. I log daily our meter readings btw.
One of our son's is looking seriously into getting a wind mill because of his location. He hates the electric company. I would love to go solar here, but not sure if it would be possible. But am going to do more research on it.
If the hubby isn't home, I don't have the TV on, and maybe one light. If not using the computer for short spells, I shut off the monitor when leaving the room. If I need to do other things, the whole computer system gets shut down. Not left on.
Coffee maker gets shut off when done, and leftover coffee goes into a thermos. Little things add up :)
Hubby has a bad habit of leaving the radio on in the garage. To do this, means a string of 5 lights on. I pitched a fit so often, that he finally rewired that side, so the radio can be on by itself. He wired the garage after we physically built it ourselves. He knows how to do a lot of things. He just procrastinates sometimes. But then again, so do I :)
 

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so true... i am a procrastinator...

and very lazy myself....but dh is now taking a shower so after he is done i am gonna shut the hot water heater off for most of the day...threw a left over peice of chicken in the crockpot and threw in some carrots, celery and potatoes and going to add an onion and voila supper tonight.....I really need to get my act together....you guys are so wonderful in getting me motivated by i fall off the wagon and don't get back on until i really have to but if i would stay on the wagon...I would be doing so much better....
 

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Some may find this interesting - the reason here in Greece no one ever keeps their hot water heater on - AND we turn it off right before getting in the shower - is people here believe (I don't believe this personally) that you can get electrocuted if there is a wiring issue with the hot water heater and you are using the hot water at the time. Everyone has heard a story of a friend of a friend who knows someone this happened to. People here literally are terrified to shower, do dishes, etc with the hot water heater on. It could be that electric wiring here traditionally hasn't been that high quality. The island I live on got electricity for the first time in 1981 and a lot of the wiring IS faulty and kinda scary. Just a fun fact!! :D
 

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My thermostat is always set low in the winter. This winter however even with all the layers of clothing I ended up turning the heat up. But while sleeping the temp is low. In the summer it really has to be hot for me to up the air conditioning. Basically I do this to help make ends meet. Would much rather have a warm or cool place. So I am always greatful during spring and fall.
 

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Our power company now charges a delivery charge so even if we do everything frugal, we still can't get below $ 100 a month. Last month, just for the delivery charge, it was $ 95.
Just reading this makes me really angry for you. I would be so furious if they did that here. We do have a delivery charge and a bunch of flat rate taxes but they only add up to about $35.

There is a movement here to install solar panels and sell the electricity they generate back to the electric company. You STILL have to pay the delivery charges and taxes. It is actually illegal here to go off the grid, have your OWN solar panel system that powers your OWN needs (rather than just producing and selling to the electric company), because if you did that, you wouldn't be paying the flat taxes. And what are these flat taxes for, you ask? To pay for several national television channels and radio stations. Which we never ever watch and we don't have a radio. Grrrr. That makes me mad because DH and I are really interested in (when we finally get to the house-buying life stage) having a very environmentally friendly house. I would so love to go off the grid completely with our own solar and/or wind.
 

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here where we live it cost around $15,000

to have a windmill solar generated power put in... to go off the grid..what happens is you power your own house and if you have anything left over you sell it back to the electric company.......
 
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i am okay with the frugal living but dh has a harder time with it. He grew up without most modern convenience and i do mean modern convenience...he use to have to go cut a hole in the pond to get water to flush the toilet...which was his job..he was one of 7 kids...
I would have an extremely difficult time without indoor plumbing! I'm not saying that I couldn't or wouldn't do it, but I am saying that it would be extremely difficult. I feel like I "have to" be able to flush the toilet "on demand" and shower as well as do dishes, etc. I am so enamored with indoor plumbing that I refuse to buy bottled water. I think it's such a waste. When I really think about the fact that there are people on this planet who don't have clean drinking water, I marvel at the fact that I can just walk to a sink and turn on a faucet to get a drink. When we have hurricane warnings, I fill up empty kittly litter containers for flushing the toilet and I fill up empty containers for drinking water. I can see where your DH's childhood experience left an indelible mark on him.
 
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We don't have a washing machine or dryer so I do all of that by hand. That's not by choice but because we can't afford to buy them and have them shipped out to the island.
You are my hero! If I could have only 1 appliance in the world, it would be a washing machine of some sort. Even if I had to hand-crank it...but then, that's because I've convinced myself that I need one. Years ago, I had a little one that fit on the sink. It was basically a plastic box with a turning mechanism. It was good for doing undies, socks and other small items. You had to take the clothes out to wring them out and then let them sit in the sink filled with clear water for rinsing. Then you would wring them out by hand and hang them on hangers all over the apartment. It looked terrible, but smelled GREAT!!! I hate laundromats. I will avoid them at all costs. I have washed clothes in the bathtub as well. So, I'm spoiled with my washing machine. It is now, along with the Internet, one of my great indulgences.

You've got me thinking! I hope your island is as beautiful as your soul!
 

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I have a friend who has had a very bad year financially. He had worked in building trades & of course that line of business is near a total standstill in our area. He refuses to ask for help such as food stamps or heating assistance, so he is making do. He did not buy propane this year. He has some gas left, but he is not sure how much. He has been turning his water heater on only for showers for months now. At first he felt ashamed, but now he is boasting! I love it! It has become a challenge to him. He has a water bed, so he's warm when he sleeps & he has a space heater for his office area, where he hangs out most of the time. Since he is not running the furnace, his electric is very low too. He has managed to keep his pipes from freezing, so I think he's doing great!

Cudos to those of you who are rebelling against the power/fuel companies!!
 

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. He refuses to ask for help such as food stamps or heating assistance, so he is making do.... At first he felt ashamed, but now he is boasting! I love it! It has become a challenge to him. I think he's doing great!

Cudos to those of you who are rebelling against the power/fuel companies!!
Hell would freeze over before I would ask for government assistance! I can appreciate his attitude. If I were homeless with no place to go, with no other options, maybe then I would do it for reasons of safety. But, as long as I can make enough $$$ to keep a roof over my head, I'm good! I refuse to ask for "help" because I am not helpless. I am resourceful and independent and I learned from my, now sainted, mother how to make a meal from water, flour, beans and a bone. There are too many starving people in this world with no options (such as food stamps) for me to think that I am somehow deprived when I live in the most prosperous country in the world! I am blessed! I have clean water and shelter from the storm. I am unashamed. I am spoiled.
 
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