Popular Posts

Thursday, 16 March 2017

A Different Perspective on Hydro Bills

   In the province where I live, the public is complaining about ever increasing hydro rates.  The government has promised to reduce rates by 25% to help consumers deal with this rising cost.
   Not many decades ago, electricity companies were encouraging people to buy appliances and maximize their use of electricity.  Note the ad to the right dated circa 1932.
  Yesterday I received my hydro bill and took a closer look at it. Even though the so-called price relief has not yet taken effect, our monthly bill was just $60.94.  To put this cost in perspective, I divided it by the 30 days of an average month and discovered it costs just about $2 a day to have the privilege of lights, furnace fan, and powered appliances and gadgets. When I consider that five people benefit from these things, the cost per person per day is only 40 cents!  Part of my reason for being pleased with my hydro bill is that I'm grateful for electricity.  I don't simply take it for granted or call access to electricity my right.  I've visited a country where the power supply routinely fails and where schools and households need to have their own diesel generators to function at an optimal level.
   Maybe you're wondering how we spend so little on electricity each month.  Here are some of our tips:

  • After we received a SMART meter outside our home, we did a family experiment.  Using the digital reading of how much electricity is being used in real time, we tested the amount of kilowatts used by various appliances, one by one.  It was enlightening.  A floor fan used far less electricity than the air conditioner; the water heater when powered up used the most.
  • We have a natural gas furnace, so the only electrical cost associated with heating is the furnace fan.  My husband has programmed our thermostat according to the time of use rates for the winter season.  Between 7 am and 11 am and again between 5 pm and 7 pm, the time of use rates are at their peak, so those are also the times when our thermostat is set the lowest.  It's almost unavoidable for us to not be cooking between 5 pm and 7 pm, so the heat from the oven and stove help warm our living space and we are seldom aware that the temperature is lower.
  • Our water heater runs only at night between 7 pm and 7 am on weekdays; we turn off the breaker switch each morning and reset it each evening, but we do not run out of hot water during the day.  On the weekends when time of use rates are at their lowest level, we keep the water heater on all day.
  • We live in a semi-detached house, so there is less square footage to be heated and/or cooled.
  • In summer we use fans instead of an air conditioner unless there have been 3 days of high humidity in a row.
  • If we are baking or cooking smaller items, we use a toaster oven rather than our large oven.
  • We wash dishes by hand.
  • Our flooring is mostly hard wood, so a vacuum cleaner is used less often than a broom or dry mop.
  • Our family hobbies include occasional movie watching and wood working, but not gaming or sitting in a hot tub.
  • We expect everyone in the house to wear an outfit more than once before it is put in the laundry, unless it was somehow soiled.  Towels are used for a whole week, and bed sheets are changed twice a month.
  • Laundry is done after 7 pm, but we have no clothes dryer.  We hang clothing from lines in the basement every other day so that humidity levels do not get too high.  In spring, summer and fall, we hang clothes outside to dry.
  • Our light fixtures contain fluorescent bulbs, but when multiple bulbs are expected in a lamp, we unscrew at least one of them.  How bright does it really have to be in the bathroom?
  • We have one refrigerator, deliberately the smallest that would meet our needs, and one chest freezer.
  • We power down our computer at night and hibernate it when it is not being actively used.
  • We use a power bar to turn off our television and DVD player.
I'd be interested in any ways you have reduced your electricity consumption.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Twenty year old things

   Last fall my husband and I celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary.  One of the slightly odd things we did when we got together with our children for the occasion was to go around the table one by one and try to name wedding gifts we had received.  When we couldn't think of any more, we checked the back of our wedding guest book, which listed them all.
   It got me thinking about the things we received as wedding gifts that we still use almost daily. They have stood the test of time, though you may notice some items have required minor repairs by my handyman husband.  If you are married, I wonder which of your wedding gifts you still have and use. How often do you think of the people who gave them to you?  Through these pictures, I reflect on the kindness of others to us twenty years ago and treasure the reason we all came together to celebrate: our marriage.


  A number of our wedding guests blessed us with cash.  We pooled this together to purchase 8 oak dining chairs, which remain sturdy and useful. They were crafted by Mennonites.
    Daily cooking with pots and pans is mostly done with the 7 piece set of Lagostina cookware given at a wedding shower by the neighbors in the rural area where I grew up.  The smallest saucepan and the Dutch oven have both needed handles to be reattached, but they continue to serve us well.

  The kitchen knife to the right was given to us by cousin Frank, who passed away last December.  We remember his kindness and struggles whenever we chop celery, peppers or onions.
  Two uncles from the Netherlands brought a group gift from nine aunts and uncles plus some cousins.  It was a full set of Sola flatware.  We were told upon receiving it: "Don't save it for special occasions; make this your 'everyday' silverware."

  This is just one sample of framed needlework we received.  The roses signify the business my husband used to be part of with his family.  The neighbor of my husband's parents made this carefully stitched picture, which now outlives her.
A plate decorated with stamps was one of the other hand-made gifts we received from my husband's nieces and nephews at a wedding shower.  My mother-in-law had previously invited these children to her home to make gifts for us.  This one-of-a-kind serving plate is a nice conversation piece when serving squares or cookies to guests.

   At first we were afraid to use this pottery milk pitcher, which holds milk that comes in bags.*  What if it breaks, we thought.  Even though it has been used while three young children could have been careless with it, it doesn't have one chip in it.

*In Ontario, Canada milk can be bought in cartons, jugs or bags.  Bags come in sets of 3, totaling 4 litres, and is usually the best buy.