Powering down

It was reported on the news this morning that our local power company, FPL, has received permission to increase everyone’s electric bill by about 8%, to cover increased fuel costs, starting this August.  It’s no great surprise; there were earlier reports that it would probably happen.  I just got my bill for the past month – it was $107.  That’s about average for my summertime use.  It’s the first month of this year that the A/C has been on for the entire month.  In fall and spring, when the weather is nice, I can get my bill down to about $40.

I keep the thermostat at 78 degrees in the summer, and that’s fairly comfortable, as long as I don’t do anything really strenuous.  However…the increase in the electric bill is not something I want to absorb into my budget.  I know I can offset most of it by increasing the thermostat setting by a degree or two, so I’m going to try it and see if I can tolerate it okay.  I’m at that stage of my life where my temperature tolerance is confined to a very narrow range of temperatures, and once I get hot, it is really, really hard for me to get un-hot.

My other concern is Ralph, my dog.  He’s big, and furry, and also 11 years old and has a heart murmur.  I don’t want him to get overheated.  He should be okay, though, since he doesn’t run or play in the house.  I expect that while I’m at work, he mostly sleeps.  He can lay on the tile floor in the kitchen with his belly pointed at the A/C vent in the ceiling all day.

I’m making a real effort to decrease my power usage in other ways, too.  In the summer I can definitely take cool-ish showers, which heats less water.  I have my TV/VCR/DVD player all plugged in to a surge protector, and I turn it off when I turn off the TV.  I don’t have a desktop computer, and my laptop is only plugged in when I’m using it.  I’ve replaced the two light bulbs I use the most with CFLs, and will replace more this month.  I don’t run my dishwasher, and I wash dishes at the sink with my hot soapy water in a mixing bowl or saucepan that needs to be washed itself.  I only wash clothes when I have a full load, and mostly in cold water (I still use warm, not hot, for sheets, towels, socks, and the dog’s bed).  I don’t watch a lot of TV, and I don’t use a lot of lights in the house.  I don’t burn any outdoor lights except the one that’s on a motion detector.  I know the clothes dryer uses a lot of electricity, but drying clothes outside in the summer in Florida is an oxymoron.  Between the humidity and the near-daily thunderstorms, they’d never get dry.

So tomorrow morning, I’m going to turn up the thermostat to 79 and see how it goes.  If Ralph and I adjust to that okay after a few days, I’ll try 80.  I don’t think I’ll go above that – but that should come close to offsetting that 8% increase in the power bill.

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