$300 electricity usage mistake (don’t do this!)
I've been conserving energy for about a decade now, with great success, so imagine my surprise when I get my first bill at the new place. Six days of electricity... $56!!! Here's what I was doing right: Replaced all the bulbs with compact florescent bulbs, except for the most used bulbs in the living room. Those got LED bulbs. Even still I hardly ever used the lights, or anything else that drew power. Here's what I was doing wrong: The only heater in the house was a small, wall-mounted one in the bathroom. We supplemented that heat with a small space heater in the living room. When I purchased the space heaters, I made sure to buy the same energy-efficient brand I used to survive the Pennsylvania winters with only $150/mo electric bills (using four of these heaters.) I turned the one I had now on a low setting and expected the electric bill to run $60-$100/month. Here's how I was using $300/month in electricity: Electricity rates in PA are different than CA. In PA, you pay a single rate for all your electricity usage, but in CA, you pay in tiers based on something called baseline usage. Baseline is the amount the company thinks is reasonable for you to use, and is based in part on whether you have electric heat or not. The rate becomes much, much higher if you use above baseline. We're paying about 11 cents a Kwh for baseline and below, but 41 cents a Kwh for the highest category, 300% above baseline. So when the usage doubles, the bill doesn't just double, it grows exponentially, it triples or quadruples. Since the only heat in the house is the small electric heater in the bathroom, our baseline should have been adjusted to a house with electric heat, but for some reason, it wasn't. They thought we had gas heat, so gave us a lower baseline, meaning higher cost for going over baseline. Also, that small electric heater in the bathroom uses more electricity than any other appliance I've ever seen, at least four times as much heat as the small space heater. We had been using the bathroom heater to heat our bedroom, and leaving it on all night. It wasn't particularly effective, it's not like we woke up hot or anything, I never imagined that appliance could use about 3000 watts of electricity and produce such little heat. That space heater wasn't particularly efficient either. It seems companies market different products to different areas, so when I bought an identical looking product in identical packaging, I was getting a vastly different model. In PA, without using electric heat, my electricity bill ran about $20 a month. I was told that electricity rates are higher here in CA and expected to pay $40 for "normal" electric plus an extra $20-40 since this place has a hot tub. Hot tubs use far more electricity than I budgeted for. Seems the hot tub alone is probably using $56 a month in electric. Here are the choices I must make in the next few days: Is the hot tub worth $56 a month or should I turn it off and drain it? This seems like a no-brainer, but I use it medically, as a way to reduce my migraine pain and to help my breathing when I get bronchitis/asthma/bad lung problems. Can I heat the house sufficiently using no heater at all, only by opening and closing the windows? (I've done this successfully before, but in a house that had much better insulation.) or will I have to search out some more efficient heaters?