I’ll show you my Electricity Bill if You show me Yours

With the feel-good articles of the Weekend Edition behind us, it’s time to get back to some hard numbers and some moneymakin’.

After slicing your car expenses, which we’ve done a lot recently, one of the next big areas with room to simultaneously save money and preserve some clean breathing air is your electricity consumption. How much are you using? Where does it all go? Are there ways to cut the waste without cutting the actual amount of fun you have in your household?

The answer is a definite YES. Check the following out:

From the website of the US Department of Energy, we see that,
“In 2008, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. household was 11,040 kWh, an average of 920 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month. Tennessee had the highest annual consumption at 15,624 kWh and Maine the lowest at 6,252 kWh.”

“Meh”, you may say. “Those numbers don’t mean much to me”. Well how about this:
“A Hundred and Ten Bucks Per Month at a typical electric rate of 12 cents/kWh”
(note that electricity rates vary widely even within the US – yet another useful factor to consider when choosing a place to settle).

Note that a Kilowatt Hour means using 1000 watts for one hour – a very bright old-school light bulb (100 watts) for 10 hours or an electric clothes dryer (5000 watts) for about 12 minutes.

Yet here in the MMM House, I just looked back at the past year’s electric bills and did some math. Our average is 299 kWh per month, less than one third of the US average.*  

(Update: since writing this article almost two years ago, we’ve made a few improvements and nowadays the average is a further 30% lower, at around 200 kWh/month).

This surprised me**, because I have a pretty big house (2600 square feet), a family of three, a big shiny double door fridge, very nice lighting, and we cook and “work” at home – computers and dishwasher get used almost every day. I also use lots of power tools and even do occasional electric welding here. Why do other people use three times as much electricity than I do for my admittedly luxurious lifestyle?

Using a simple energy meter and doing some calculations, I figured out that my 299 kWh are getting used up like this:
Fridge: 47
Lights: 60
Dishwasher: 40
Furnace blower (winter) or Air Conditioner (summer): 50
Computers: 36
Clothes Dryer: 30
Tools and other/unknown: 36

If the average household could get their energy use down to Mustachian levels, they would save about $75/month or $13,725 every ten years including compounding. So how can they do it?

I believe the big three would be these things:

Clothes Drying: your dryer is the biggest energy hog in the house. It costs 60 cents per hour to run it, which sounds cheap unless you are one of those fools who do two loads of laundry per day, in which case you burn $39/month versus the MMM family’s $3.60. We accomplish this by doing only about two loads per week (you only need to wash clothes, sheets, or towels if they actually LOOK or SMELL unusual – otherwise just hang ’em up and use ’em again). And hanging the clothes to dry most of the time, saving the dryer only for things that are annoying or time-consuming to hang like huge armloads of socks and underwear. Start hanging up your pants and shirts, I’m not accepting excuses on this one. You have plenty of free time now that you’ve cancelled your cable TV.

Lighting: This seems amazing to me, but many, many people still use old-fashioned incandescent lights in their house. Tons of them. These things are STUPID. If you are one of these people, get up from your chair RIGHT NOW. Take out ALL YOUR RIDICULOUS BULBS AND SMASH THEM. Put in LED bulbs in all fixtures.

These days, they give you an even better light color than the old incandescent style, if you stick to bulbs with a high CRI rating (color rendering index) and a color “temperature” of between 2700 and 3000K.

Here’s a shortcut to the bulbs I use in my own houses and commercial buildings, updated for late 2017:

Normal base bulbs: just grab anything from Costco, Home Depot, or these from Amazon.

Recessed (Can) Light Bulbs: These Hyperikon bulbs are top-of the line and still only about $6

Track Light Bulbs: most track lights use 120 volt GU10 bulbs. I am now using these generic bulbs from Amazon and they are incredibly good. High CRI, perfect color, and dimmable.

Basic screw-in bulbs only cost only about $1.50 each, and they save you about $8.23 per year each. That is an 549 percent annual return on investment. And you can easily get dimmable versions if needed. Go change all the bulbs right now, then punch yourself in the face once for each incandescent bulb you were still using, now, in the year 2011, more than ten years since CFLs became available. Then come back to your computer and finish reading this article. Welcome back. Remember to turn off lights you’re not using as well.. duh.

Air Conditioning: This costs 35-60 cents per hour that you run it. If you go crazy with it, you can burn $100 or more in a month.
But here there is a valid difference for some people. In the US, the whole bottom right quarter of the country is an absolute steam bath for half of the year. Mr Money Mustache wants you to cut out your waste, but not your comfort. So there’s going to be some serious air conditioning going on there. But you can keep it efficient by running the machine mostly at night and coasting through the peak hours with the windows and doors closed, keeping out the heat. Block any direct sunlight with insulated curtains. And chill the house only to 80 degrees and wear shorts, instead of being like the old folks who keep their places like a meat freezer and wear sweaters around indoors during the Miami summer.

And for the rest of us, like my beloved neighbors here in Colorado who are already using their A/C all around me, use the climate to your advantage. If it is cool at night, open the windows up entirely and use a window fan or whole house fan to blow out hot air all night while you sleep. A big fan burns 1 cent per hour of electricity, 50 times less than a whole house air conditioner. I do this, and even in July I can coast through a 100 degree day with the house staying cool all day – just long enough to open up for the next cool night.

If you hit those big three, an average person should be able to at least cut the bill in half.

And there you go, another 13 grand or so towards your retirement 10 years from now. Amazing, isn’t it!?

*Another interesting note about my house – last year I rented it out to some international friends who happened to be visiting the US for exactly one month while we were away on a long trip. The usage by the tenants for that month was 971 kWh, just a bit more than the national average. So there you have it – usage is controlled by YOU, not your house or your location.

**Actually, it didn’t surprise me, because obviously I’ve been watching my electricity usage for decades and know exactly how much I use. I mean, come on, I’m Mr. Fuckin’ Money Mustache!! But I thought it flowed nicely to say, “this surprised me”.. and more importantly I thought it might surprise YOU, Junior Mustache.

  • Eldred January 6, 2014, 2:14 pm

    I was just looking through this again, comparing your yearly usage to mine. I used 7321 KWH in 2013, so not quite ‘average’. I changed out 90% of my incandescent bulbs for CFL last month. The rest are ‘chandelier’ bulbs that I haven’t found replacements for yet. I’ll get those eventually. But…where are you finding CFLs for $1?!? Around here, the lowest price I saw was $7.98 for a 2-pack, so $4 each. And how long until you(or anyone) saw a payback from switching the bulbs? Since I’m good at turning off lights when I leave a room, I’m not sure I’ll see any significant change just from that one thing. But, I’m still hoping to drop my electric usage in 2014.

  • Travis January 19, 2014, 3:50 pm

    I averaged 634 KWh last year in a 1300 sq ft, 3 bedroom apartment in Tacoma, WA. I don’t have any air conditioning except for a couple ceiling fans. I have wall and floor unit heaters in each room of the apartment, but try hard not to use them. My lowest month was in June with 470 KWh and highest was last January with 950 KWh. Depending on usage, my heating bill adds about $30 a month during the winter.

    I really don’t know what my specific appliance usages are, but I noticed that I used 6-7 KWh per day while we were away on vacation in December. Except for things plugged into walls, the only items that should have been running was a lamp my wife uses to grow plants indoors. We might have to take a closer look at that project if it’s costing $10 a month.

  • Brent February 6, 2014, 3:30 pm

    I have an older 1K sf house that’s uninsulated and I live in a desert climate. Single person household, heating is with gas, dryer is electric, cooling is a 25K BTU in-wall AC.

    I used 4,627 kWh over the last year, or 386 kWh a month average. My winter load is around 225 kWh/month, and the peak July cooling load is about 700 kWh/month.

    My yearly bill is up a little (~10%) over last year because I switched from a laptop to a desktop computer for the better performance/$, and I wanted a triple monitor setup for productivity and gaming.

    I’ve done everything I could reasonably do to lower the electric bill. All lighting is 40 watt LED bulbs (almost all on dimmers). I have an efficient 7 cf top-load freezer, and my fridge is the same model freezer converted to work as a frig. (super efficient). My other loads are really just my triple-head desktop pc, laptop (security software running on it), printer, and misc networking equipment. I also charge my GEM electric car 2-3 times using about 25 kWh/month (my primary transportation).

    About the only place left for me to save would be to turn off the desktop PC overnight. Would save maybe 360 kWh a year doing that, but I have the PC doing light tasks overnight that would have to be switched to the laptop running my security software.

    If I insulated the place, and replaced the single-pane aluminum windows I could save on AC cooling costs, but it probably doesn’t make economic sense. I estimate the AC represents about 1,600 kWh of my yearly electricity usage. So I’m only looking at a savings of about $200/year if I cut out the AC use completely. Insulating the (flat) roof and walls will take a very long time to pay back. And because I only have 2×4 walls, I’d probably need expensive spray foam insulation to really make an impact. Wish I could figure out a cheap way to get the place insulated.

    I could look into a $500 swamp cooler that might allow 75% less AC usage (but still need it during the monsoon period).

  • Nigel February 18, 2014, 7:24 pm

    We’re a family of four in a ~1100 sf split level house, about 2000 sf total living space. Reading this, I was inspired to check our kWh usage (had never done this before – face punch #1) and found we use about 500 kWh in a non-ac month. So how could I get closer to MMM levels? We don’t use the clothes dryer much (socks and skivvies only), so not much help there. Then I looked over at the tall black upward facing halogen lamp that is on a lot in our living room – 300W! (face punch #2). Time to pick up a cheap standing lamps at Target and use cfls. I next realized we’re still using incandescents in the very often-used bedroom ceiling fan light because I assumed I couldn’t get cfls to fit – a quick check of the Home Depot website set me straight (face punch #3). We tried cfls in the bathroom over-mirror lights several years ago but they kept burning out within a couple weeks, so we went back to 40W incandescents – but I’ll give a cfl a try again, maybe they’ve improved since then, and maybe my new ‘2-minute challenge’ to the family (max 2 min of running water per shower) will cut down on the moisture enough make a difference. I’ll need to check the power usage on the fridge – it’s pretty old and I’m guessing its a hog, but in all fairness I suppose my late-night gazing-into-the-open-fridge habit doesn’t help much. That’s all I could come up with – it will be interesting to see if I can make a dent in the bill with these changes.

    • Brent February 19, 2014, 12:28 am

      You seem to be doing well compared to the average household of your size. Don’t forget to take a look at outside lighting as well. Get a Kill-A-Watt meter and also take look at the electronics and appliances around your house (especially your frig/freezer.) My frig uses about 250 watts a day (energy star chest freezer, converted to frig for $50) and the freezer uses about 750 watts a day. Saves a lot of power over the year.

  • Stacy March 10, 2014, 1:39 pm

    An energy meter! **facepunch** I swear I learn something new here everyday. I think MMM should replace the traditional “home economics” curriculum in our schools.

  • Oh Yonghao April 2, 2014, 2:17 pm

    Having recently moved from the reasonably priced utility area of Vancouver, WA to the much higher priced area across the river known as Portland-metro area, I’ve been paying more attention to my electricity usage. In Vancouver it goes at a rate of about 8.4 cents per kwh and you get a kickback for the Bonneville dam production, depending on usage it may drop you down to around 7.8 cents per kwh. Now it is more around 12 cents per kwh.

    We get daily usage from PGE and also have an hourly breakdown. Our first two weeks in the house used 261kwh. After that we borrowed a kill-o-watt from the library and replaced every light with CFL’s which had gone on sale with huge rebates at Costco. We also noticed that the alley light which is required by the HOA to be on has a broken light sensor making it on 24 hours a day, so we removed that bulb until we got a notice and have replaced it with our first LED bulb, also purchased at Costco with a $9 rebate, making it $10.98 for 3 LED bulbs.

    Our second month we came in at 290kwh, considering the first month was only for two weeks this was a great improvement. We set a goal for 9kwh/day, and the next month we got 276kwh in a 29 day period, a little high at 9.5kwh/day.

    With the warmer weather our gas furnace isn’t blowing as often and we have noticed a drop in usage. We are looking at hitting our 9kwh target this month, and that includes the increased computer usage due to a new video game update release.

    We have also recently purchased a portable hanging rod to begin hanging our clothes instead of using the dryer, even though we have a set of 2 year old HE front load washer and dryer. We should see further reductions throughout the summer.

  • BismarckianBucksMustache April 29, 2014, 4:30 am

    I am a new joiner on this fabulous site and you guys see me amazed by the energy costs that you are paying! North-America sure is the region with the most ridiculously low energy prices.

    While having a yearly consumption of just about 2100 kwh for a 2 bedroom flat, I am paying 0.36 Euro cents per kwh. This is due to German legislation that aims at subsidizing renewable energies by putting a surcharge on everyones hourly rate. This is particularly annoying as I am already opting for 100% renewable power.

    Talking about money now, this means that I pay round about 850 € per year when including the additional fees and taxes. Here in Germany, the only way to lower your energy bill is to change suppliers on a yearly basis as this will give you access to their new-customer bonuses that can range from 50-150€.

    Quite hard to be a smart power Mustachian here in the land of Bread and Sauerkraut!

  • Jessica May 6, 2014, 6:02 am

    I live in Longmont. I was wondering if the time of day you run your appliances affects the cost? I have all energy star HE appliances. I set the delay timer to wash clothes and dishes in the middle of the night. Is this saving money?

    Hanging clothes on a line to dry is against HOA regulations, unfortunately.

    We have a family of four. We homeschool, so we are home all the time. I cook all our meals, this creates a lot of dishes. I just purchased a brand new dishwasher, they are supposed to be getting more energy efficient all the time.

    I wash towels/sheets once a week. For the 4 of us I do one load of laundry a day.

    My City of Longmont bill climbs every year. It is now averaging $250 a month (I know there were some increases because of the flood.)

    We sleep with the windows open to cool the house. We have insulating film on the western side of the house, the afternoon sun is brutal. The home is 10 years old and I believe the windows are pretty efficient.

    We have a gas water heater. There are 3 showers a day, one for each of us. My husband showers at the gym.

    I’ve read all the previous posts, looking for ways to bring that bill down. Back to the original question, does time of day matter?

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 6, 2014, 8:10 am

      Hey Neighbor!

      Here in Longmont, we don’t have time of day billing yet. But you are still helping out by using your power at night, since it lowers our power system’s peak demand, which lets the power company get by with smaller, more efficient plants.

      You can line dry clothes indoors or on a portable rack outside – I don’t use our dryer and yet don’t have a permanent outdoor clothes line. http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/06/27/my-new-1000-annual-return-on-investment-clothes-dryer/

      I think your biggest energy cost is probably the dryer (try washing your sheets/towels less often – we do it monthly and everything still smells fresh), and the three of us do 1-2 loads of laundry per week. But also check your light bulbs – are there any incandescent or halogen bulbs still hanging around in frequently used areas? Change for CFL or LED.

      Although it shows up on a different bill (Xcel rather than Longmont), you can replace your showerheads with lower-flow ones to cut your water heating costs in half: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/11/30/an-800-gift-from-me-to-you/

      Optionally folks can take fewer/shorter showers, especially in the cool seasons or on days they are not involved in competitive sports or construction.

      Finally, you can request a smaller trash bin to cut that Longmont bill by a few bucks a month. Invest that savings into buying renewable power from LPC instead of coal!

  • Eleanor Oyen June 29, 2014, 6:39 pm

    I live in Fort Collins, Colorado, and learned that an HOA can’t prohibit use of outside line for drying clothes. The State of Colorado says you may, so the HOA must go along with it. It’s worth confirming that for yourself.

  • vr August 28, 2014, 4:00 am

    What’s your advice for people living in cold countries? I live in Scandinavia and we have +30C (+86F) summers and almost -30degrees (-22F) winters. Summers are easy for me, I can manage +25C even at night and my apartment is shadowed by a few bigger trees that give a nice breeze when spending time outside.

    The wintertime is the broblemn. It’s a row of flats with a wooden frame and consumes direct electricity for heating. My electric bills are about 50€/month at summer but in the wintertime they rise to almost 150€/month. About half of that is taxes and transfercosts from the electricgrids owner, but still it makes too large hole in my wallet. I have laid some extra carpets to keep the cold under the floor and using the air-source heat pump to aid the heaters, but that’s about it, keeping it to about +19C inside the house, bedroom is +17C or +18C. Some extra advice would be welcome on my way to cutting the costs :)

    edit: Fireplace would be an excellent choice as I get the wood for free, but building one costs about 3000-5000€ so that won’t be an option right now, maybe after two to three years when I’ve paid my student loan and shortened the mortgage enough…

  • Amanda M. August 28, 2014, 1:30 pm

    My father was an HVAC man, and he instilled pretty good A/C discipline in me at a young age. I live in an apartment in CA now (desert area) and average 182 kWh in a month (high of 450 in December, low of 98 in May). Apparently the end of November/beginning of December was a very cold time. During this time, the baseboard heating in my apartment was turned on and activated when it sensed a low temperature, which I remedied for my late December trip, and with similar temperatures I was able to lower my usage from 450 to 244 kWh.

    Through vacations and daily tracking I’ve discovered that my minimum usage is about 1.5-2 kwh per day. I unplug my router, TV, and associated equipment. This has saved me a lot, but I’m not sure I can go much lower.

  • ocean September 3, 2014, 7:25 pm

    Greetings from Hawaii. I’m real late to the party, as I recently came across MMM and started growing my ‘stash. Love the blog and I’m methodically going through every post.
    Anyway, I thought I’d let you peeps know how cheap your energy is on the mainland. I did some quick calculations from the time I’ve lived in my house.

    $0.4228 per KWH (no joke)
    $5.37 per day average.
    12.74 KWH used per day average.
    380.4 KWH used per month average.
    $160.84 per month average.

    I have some serious work to do, but not terrible for a family of four that also works out of the house. If the average US household consumption of 920 KWH @ $.04228 per KWH, the monthly bill would be $388.97… I bet that would change some lifestyles!
    Thanks MMM and crew, this blog is a game changer!

    • Eldred September 3, 2014, 9:28 pm

      I don’t think it would change any lifestyles, because that would just be TOO outrageous of a bill. And many people wouldn’t be able to AFFORD it, myself included. I seem to average about 600 KWH for the past 12 months. Lowest usage was 503(May), highest was 680(October). I live alone. I have 4 computers that run pretty much 24/7, but other than that I don’t see what’s burning energy. I’m good about turning out lights when I leave a room, except for my living room which is on a timer. Electric stove and oven – maybe that’s it? I have fans running in the summer because I don’t have AC. I’m impressed that your usage is so much less than mine. Now I have to figure out why…

  • Trevis Kelley September 13, 2014, 9:43 pm

    I just looked at my energy consumption, and I am definitely failing big time in this area. I knew it had to be high, so I got an energy audit done. Near 18 air changes per hour. We are spending money to get everything sealed up and some extra insulation put down. The energy person said he would test it again, but he thinks with the things we are doing, we are going to reduce that to 3 air changes per hour. I think we can probably do better, but it is a 100 year old house. What do you think?

    On another note, is it difficult to install a light switch to control an outlet? I have an extremely bad back, and bending over to hit the power strip switch hurts bad enough I need the wall to get up, so I don’t do it. However, if I had a light switch to flip, I would definitely hit it to make my bills better whenever I am not using the system. My wife is still not convinced of my frugal ways, so we still have the desktop computer and a bunch of consoles with a home entertainment center. I think turning them off at night and when we leave the house (and any other time we aren’t using it), but she just tells me to turn it off if I think it’s important. A light switch would help quite a bit with that.

    I also have 5 ceiling fans that run all of the time. What does that do to my energy bills? Any reason I would need to turn them off? They seem to make the house more comfortable, but if they are costing a ton, then I could probably live without them just fine.

    Even with all of this power consumption, we are spending just under $22,000/year (not including my mortgage, but including our car loan and student debt). I think we could get rid of our car and student debt in 2 years (or sooner if my wife lets me sell the stupid truck we have). Then, we could pay off the mortgage much sooner, and reduce our spending to $16,000/yr (less if I can get our energy costs down). Thanks for your amazing blog, MMM. You are inspiring many to reduce consumption, which can only lead to good.


  • Taryn September 24, 2014, 7:52 am

    This is such great information. I am curious as to what you all will say to my electric bill. We live in Northern West Virginia 3 almost 4 people in a 2600 sq ft home. These are the things I do to cut down on electric:
    We do not use our AC but do run ceiling fans when home
    Hang the clothes out on the line
    Run the dishwasher after 8pm (maybe folk lure but I figured it cannot hurt)
    Unplug the coffee pot
    No lights on during the work day
    We have no incandescent bulbs and use CFL
    We do run a dehumidifier during the day and a fan in our basement

    So are you ready for this our average consumption a month is 1531 kwh
    So for this it is about $150 a month and higher

    • Mr. Money Mustache September 24, 2014, 9:09 am

      I’d bet that your dehumidifier is a big part of that – those pull a high current and run for a lot of the day, exactly like an air conditioner. You could start by looking for the most efficient dehumidifier you can find (see if there are measurements based on water extracted per kWh of electricity). Also see if there are ways to block moisture leakage into your basement (exterior grading and downspout kickouts, etc)

  • Stellar October 13, 2014, 9:27 am

    Yikes. I feel super hog-like now. Our square footage is 1650 or so (includes garage I think), live in Houston’s tropical like weather: last month’s kWh usage was 1,958 (per kWh) = $0.152). We can partly blame old windows (probably from 1975), a split level plan (kitchen/living) upstairs and poor attic insulation? Hmmm… I found your blog last week or so. I’ve tried to use fans when sleeping and in the living room. I need to brainstorm further.

  • Meredith December 1, 2014, 2:09 pm

    My last bill (end of October/early to mid-November) was $35.39. I live in a 700-square-foot apartment with no washer or dryer. I am surrounded on all sides except two outside walls. My mom lets me do laundry at her house for free. :) I do clean and mow the lawn there occasionally to help out. I’ve tried to pay her to no avail.

    I unplug or switch off the bar for almost EVERYTHING. I use a space heater. Water, sewer, and trash are paid for by the complex.

  • nV December 21, 2014, 3:59 pm

    Hmm, I disagree with CFL’s, preferring LEDs and incandescents. … BUT … there is a trick here.

    LEDs save much much more money in energy consumption than CFL’s, and have a tendency to last longer as well. these should be the bulk of lightbulbs in an house. sure they cost more to start with, but that cost is spread out over a good decade, rather than a few short months.

    Incandescents however ARE NOT LIGHT BULBS! They are small, rather bright electric heaters, and should in fact be used as such. In a small well insulated room, you shouldn’t need more heat than what one of these pumps out. don’t attach it to the ceiling, but have it at about person height.

  • Jess December 30, 2014, 3:47 pm

    I’m reading from the beginning and I think my husband and I are on the right track already… we just needed a few tweaks and a reality check. Something that stood out to me about this post is this “76 degree” thing… That’s downright chilly! We live in South Texas and I’m currently sitting with a tiny space heater to warm me up (because my husband and I have made a game out of not turning the central air/heating for as long as possible. For the summer months, though, we keep the house at 82 during the day (while we’re at work) and cool it off to 79-80 in the evenings to save on electricity (and because I get cold easy). I have heard HORROR stories of how some of my co-workers spend nearly $500 a MONTH during the summer while we barely break into the triple digits in August! Yikes!

  • Karen January 7, 2015, 8:21 pm

    I love this blog, and this post in particular. Judging by how long the comments have been rolling in, it seems that a lot of people feel the same way. I think it’s because energy efficiency is where the rubber-meets-the-road of financial and ecological consciousness. I make a good living and can afford to pay a high monthly bill…but who wants to do that?! Almost no one. It just feels careless and wasteful–on so many levels–more than many other spending choices.

    So… I was feeling pretty good about the progress I’d made over the past few years in cutting back my electricity use–which involved some major improvements to my home…a 270 year old New England farmhouse, 3700 s.f., electrical baseboard heaters, old single-pane windows and very poor insulation (they didn’t have much back in the day, and corn cobs just aren’t effective!). An energy audit back in 2011 showed 4x the recommended air exchange–yikes! Anyway, I got my usage down to 2,000 kwh/month by ripping out the baseboard units, installing a propane furnace in the attic, installing new double-pane windows and a bunch of stuff to seal cracks and insulate various interior spaces. Over that same time, I built a business that now employs 6 people and a lot of computer equipment, located in an office in my barn. That uses about 700 kwh/month, leaving consumption in the house at ~ 1,300 kwh/month–about half of what it was four years ago.

    THEN I discovered MMM and this post and realized that I still suck!!

    So out went the (few) remaining incandescent bulbs, and in went LEDs, the hot water heater is now turned down, and so is the fridge. I’ve closed off all rooms that are not in regular use and lowered the thermostat. All of which brought our usage down by another 100 kwh this past month. Then Whabaaam!, our electric utility raised its rate from 15c to 21c per kwh in December. Talk about adding insult to (self-)injury!

    I still have to switch to LEDs in the office and see if we can turn off some machines overnight–that’s got to be worth at least 100 kwh–but the real problem is this old house. We are in the process of re-siding it (luckily, my sweet husband is a builder) but it has been slow going. We had to remove two layers of old siding, reconstruct a lot of the beams and sills, and rebuild the exterior walls adding insulation everywhere we can (batts and rigid foam), then plywood and Tyvek, and finally cement fiber siding. It looks beautiful and feels great where it’s finished…but we’re only halfway done. This old house sits atop a hill flanked by an open pasture…as I write the Canadian Arctic is descending upon us and the winds are whipping up the hill at around 40mph, penetrating every remaining crack!! I’m freezing my a** off but I love this place. It has HISTORY and I wouldn’t live anywhere else.

    Thank you MMM–there is so much good advice and common sense here! This blog is huge gift of empowerment and enlightenment and community. You pretend to be a badass (and I like it!) but your kindness shines through in every post. This blog is one of the best things I have ever read* and I read all the time :-) Keep on groovin!’

    * In my top-5, which you may like, is The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking.

  • Isaac January 21, 2015, 8:45 pm

    Cfl bulbs use more power than advertised, introduce emi into your wiring, aren’t as bright as advertised, don’t reach full brightness instantly (10 seconds to 1 minute), don’t cycle well, aren’t as durable as advertised, don’t work in environments with wide temperature fluctuations (outdoor fixtures), burn out quickly if exposed to poorly regulated voltage (including brown outs), and they contain Hg…. And the claim that they introduce less Hg into your living environment than powering an incandescent is based on an estimate that was basically just pulled out of some dudes ass……… Also, throwing out something that works to replace it with something more efficient is 9/10 times a waste of money and natural resources, I replace incandescents with RoHM LEDs as they burn out, cept in winter in the basement where I run 130 V 100 W incandescent bulbs for space heating since it doesn’t need to be heated often, but it needs to be heated instantly when it does.

  • Dustin February 3, 2015, 8:51 pm

    So I received my first electric bill and we have used 2046 KWH in 31 days. There is no way possible that we have used so many. My fiancé live in a trailer a decent sized single wide. The electric furnace is always set to 60 at the highest and 54 at the lowest (depends on what time of day). We only use one tv and we always turn off light and so on when done with things. We are a younger couple and just now moved in together so we don’t really even have very many electronics just a Xbox 2 Tvs (only use one). 2 laptops and a alarm clock. We have a fridge, oven. No dishwasher and no dryer or washer. I have no idea possible to why our bill would be just about $200 at .1007 cents per KWH. Anyone have any idea about this madness?

    • Eldred February 18, 2015, 1:55 pm

      Did you ever find an answer to this? I’m wondering if you weren’t being charged a past due amount from a previous tenant, or if you had a past due bill yourself that was being tacked on…

      • Karen February 18, 2015, 4:06 pm

        I’m guessing the problem is poor insulation in the trailer (very common). Even if the thermostat is set low, the furnace may be struggling to keep up if heat is escaping quickly–and in many parts of the country, this winter is very cold by historical standards. As MMM has pointed out, electric heat is very expensive, so if there’s a way to improve the insulation, it will pay for itself quickly. There is a lot of information online about retrofitting insulation in mobile homes. Good luck!

        • Dustin February 21, 2015, 5:04 pm

          Thanks for the advice! I may just consider putting money into this trailer even though I rent it. Bc in the end it would be a better outcome for myself.

      • Dustin February 21, 2015, 5:02 pm

        No I still haven’t found out the problem. I know it’s not added to a previous bill because I recived another bill just the other day. These high electric bills are killer. We have bought a Eden pure infrared heater and it has helped on the bill but we still have to close off rooms and such. Basically living in the living room. I’ve also put plastic on the windows to help cold air from coming in. It has help some what. I also shut off most appliances that I’m not using at the breaker but still we’re somehow going through a ton of KWH. This is just very disapointing that it’s so pricey for not even being decently warm.

  • Jenn February 21, 2015, 9:50 pm

    Hello, so I am at my wits end with my current electricity bill. We are using over 2000 kilowatts of electricity each month somehow since we moved (3 months ago) . I used approx. 750 kilos at my last place (1600 sq ft) and I was using space heaters and the whole nine yards. I am super frugal. I am talking all CFL bulbs in my house, use oil lamps at night, always unplugging things after use, hanging dry my clothes and using ceiling fan to dry, keep heat at 61 in winter and we have natural gas with a furnace etc. We live in an approx. 1800 sq ft house with a basement and we are on the side of a hill and this house (yes older) is greatly insulated. We just recently got natural gas and our bill was still showing over 2000 kilowatts usage (the last month we were using a wood stove!) so please someone help me understand why our bill is s high. In NC our rate is supposedly 0.109 per kilo, so I do not see how our bill is so high! We have wood floors in this place (same as last home) and have insulated curtains and blinds on all windows. Im really not seeing whats going on here…maybe I am missing something…I am going to purchase a kilometer reader too, but any other ideas would be helpful!

    • Mr. Money Mustache February 23, 2015, 9:11 am

      Interesting mystery, Jenn!

      – Do you still have an electric water heater? This would explain it almost immediately – swap it for a gas tankless
      – How many loads of laundry per week?
      – There may be some old phantom electricity wasters like pipe heaters that run in the winter – check the basement or crawlspace plumbing. Also try cycling one breaker at a time in the box and watching the electric meter to see what makes it spin.

      Another article on this very idea coming soon.

      • Jennifer March 23, 2015, 9:06 pm

        Thank you for your reply! I only wash at most approx 2-3 loads per week as it is only I and my husband. I checked our water heater and it is an energy efficient heater that uses at max usage 560 kilowatts a month. I purchased one of the recommended wattage checkers and ran everything in my house and the numbers didn’t add up so I called my electric company to go over the figures and calculations compared to what I calculated as approx 910 kilowatts a month. We had the electricity company come out and run a few test on lines. Unfortunately they could not find what was triggering the high kilowatt usage. Ironically since I called the electricity company and they visited our house our electricity bill has dropped approx 60%. I really believe our meter was broken in some way or that something was incorrect in the system. We have still not changed the way we are doing things and our latest bill was only 854 kilowatts, go figure! Makes one wonder… However, I still believe we can still get our bill down even more. As this is an older house I will have my husband check under the house for the pipe heaters as you mention. I appreciate your insight and look forward to the article with more information.

  • Monetary-Meg March 9, 2015, 3:37 am

    Wow! 12c/kWh! Oh to only pay that much. Here in New Zealand, I nearly died when I got our latest power bill. They seem to be getting bigger and bigger and we are not using any more than we used to. I see that we are charged 33c/day to have the power connected and then 25c/kWh! There are only 2 of us and we don’t have any luxuries that use power. Crazy pricing here in New Zealand. How can we move to Colorado!?

  • Shooter McGavin March 31, 2015, 5:10 pm

    95 kWh per month. 749 square foot one bedroom apartment. Single. 11.2 cents/kWh, northwest Chicago suburbs. CFL’s in every lighting fixture. All devices that are not the fridge are yanked from the outlet when I’m not using them. Haven’t turned on the dishwasher since I moved in. Clean all dishes by hand. Cook my food on a George Foreman grill, which is damn near free at a usage of 0.1 kWh/day (according to the smart meter). Said See Ya to the washer/dryer. Wash my clothes in the bathtub and dry them using an electric spin dryer ($90.00 on Amazon). It is work, but then again it works. **Double fist pistols, pops collar, walks away**

  • Bram April 7, 2015, 6:22 am

    We were thinkink “Oh boy, we do like 6 dryer loads per week, that must be such a huge part of our consumption.” If I recall correct we were at about 4000kwh/year some time ago, before I started putting LED lights everywhere and also before we put solar panels that should give ~3100kwh/year. There are still some big power eaters, namely the lights in our living room. I couldn’t find replacement LED’s yet for that socket. Well, I did but they were something like 20-30€ per lamp, and I’m speaking about 4 60w lamps, the ROI is just too long then. Then there’s a dimmable 250w lamp that I really didn’t find a replacement for. This means most evenings there’s around 2kwh of light use I estimate…

    Now back to the dryer, I bought a powermeter after reading this article 2 weeks ago or so and I measured the dryer: it consumes 0.82kwh/load! I knew it’s really energy efficient and all but this is really “nothing”. Per year (6/week*52weeks) that’s 255kwh or roughly 50 euro ( 0.2€/ kwh) or perhaps now it costs us even nothing with the solarpanels. I’m waiting to calculate our last year consumption since we installed them in june and since springtime is almost here; we are going to generate more than we consume again. Who knows we might be on par already?! Still we are likely going to hang some more clothes, things that go fast like pants, tshirts and towels. We have 3 very small children so our time is very precious and our attention is all the time asked :)

    Anyway, this could also be a hint for lazy people with an old dryer then, just buy the most energy efficient one on the market. We bought almost solely based on that factor 1.5years ago. We only did the cost calculation compared to the laundry saloon, not vs hang drying though, since that’s anyway not ideal here for half of the year. Another hint is to buy a very good laundry WASHING machine, there are really big differences in how wet the clothes come out of it, again there we did our research and we bought the best one :)

    • Eldred April 7, 2015, 6:44 am

      I discovered that my clothes dryer isn’t very power hungry either. Mine uses .25 kwh per load. I was forced to buy a replacement washer and dryer after a flood ruined mine last summer. I think my big energy drains are the fridge(haven’t tested it yet) and the furnace(don’t know *how* to test that). How do you test a furnace?!?

      • Bram April 7, 2015, 6:52 am

        Say what? That’s 3 times less than ours… what brand/model is that? I really bought the least consuming (well, in the top-3 or so, we also had some other requirement that mattered) one available in Belgium/The netherlands… I should’ve bought yours then!

        Our fridge is also sparkling new since we could pick out a new one after it broke under warranty, so again there we have the most energy efficient one of a certain brand. The previous one came with the kitchen, so we didn’t choose that one.

        I have a gas-furnace so I wouldn’t know how to calculate an electric furnace, it’s not just plugged in into a wallsocket then, I guess? If you also have a gas furnace and don’t cook on gas, then you just have to look to your gas meter obviously, just make sure you know the correct value for your local gas deliveries. The kwh/m³ varies.

        • Eldred April 7, 2015, 9:13 am

          Sorry – I have a gas(forced-air) furnace. I’m referring to the power used by the electric blower. It’s directly wired in. I wonder if the other meter MMM mentioned in a different story could read the power draw through the conduit…? I also have an electric stove and oven that would have the same ‘barriers’ to testing.
          Dryer brand is Whirlpool, I think. Just a basic unit, nothing special.

          • Bram April 7, 2015, 11:14 pm

            I never used this other device, just a wallsocket powermeter so I wouldn’t know, but it is said that it can recognize different pieces of equipment so who knows. To be honest, I think all my electric equipment at home (including oven or cookingplate) is just installed in a wallsocket, Sometimes it’s not really easy to reach it but it IS a wallsocket nevertheless :)

            Come to think of it, our cooking fire might actually be our biggest consumer… it’s vitroceramic and we cook every day at leastonce on it, many times twice. We looked to replace it with induction a while ago but it was not cost efficient at all yet. I wonder how MMM cooks. Gas perhaps? We didn’t take a gas stove because it’s much more difficult to clean (by experience).

            I have difficulty believing your 0.25kwh/load claim, I checked the whirlpool website and the least consuming ones they have all report 1kwh+ values per load. How did you measure this? I used a kill-a-watt alike device and measured 6 drying cycles. The average happened to be the same as the first load so it seems quite consistent. Anyway they were all full loads of cotton stuff, so I wouldn’t expect any big differences anyway.

            • Eldred April 8, 2015, 5:53 am

              To measure the dryer, I used a kill-a-watt device as well. I think I measured 4-6 loads before I stopped counting, and they were all about the same. I forgot to double-check the brand last night – I’ll try to remember when I get home.

  • GregW October 22, 2015, 10:00 am

    Great post and great comments!
    We live in SE Connecticut. House built in late 80’s, oil fired baseboard heat, oil fired inline hot water, electric appliances, 2500 sf, two floors. Over the last year we averaged 500kwh/month with a cost of $.13/kWh . Not too bad, but clearly room for improvement. When it is just the Mrs and I we can keep the use down, when the kids are home from college, it goes up a bit. We do have a few incandescent bulbs, as well as some LEDs in the bedrooms.
    I’m on a mission, now – I want to see if I can drop by 100 for the next months bill.

  • Andrea O. January 18, 2016, 6:06 pm

    I am thrilled to have come across your blog, particularly this post! I read it and all of the comments thoroughly and have started implementing changes already. I have never paid attention to our electricity usage. Looking at our electricity usage, I’m astounded that we have never gone below 1,000kwh/month and range anywhere between 1,000-2,000kwh/month. This is changing as of right now! I am so excited to see the difference on my future electricity bills.

  • Beth July 28, 2016, 8:55 am

    I had never thought to look at my how much electricity I’m using until I found this post, but I’ve always been fairly careful with it although I realize now I need to pay more attention to it and make some improvements. I live in one of the sweltering sweatbox states, Texas. In most months I’m using around 300 kwh but last month with humidity high and temps over 100, I used 1039. I keep the thermostat set to 78 during the day and 75 at night. I’m going to try bumping that up to 76 or higher at night. I use fans as well as the AC to be able to keep the setting warmer in the summer. Humidity is the real killer. I can take higher temps but not when the relative temp is 10 degrees higher than the air temp and air temp is over 100. My house is fully shaded by trees and is only 1000 sq ft and I have a new AC unit. I also added insulation when I got the new AC installed. I’ll keep tweaking other things but summer is just going to cost a lot more. I have gas throughout the house for heating, stove, dryer, and hot water. Winter is very cheap here so it offsets the summer cost.

  • Be September 24, 2016, 5:04 pm

    Both places I’ve rented actively prohibit drying clothes outdoors. I’d basically never used a clothes dryer in my life before moving to the States. Also we have no control over the lightbulb choices as we don’t replace them – we live in an old converted asylum with 12″ ceilings and are not investing in a ladder. I’m going to try to negotiate the AC with my cohabitants but at least it’s finally cooling off in MA this week.

  • Mindy October 14, 2016, 9:27 am

    We switched to LED lights when we found a good deal on buying enough of them to fill our house. But the laundry thing is a biggie. I bet that hog is sucking all sorts of power. Maybe we’ll try air drying this summer.

    • Ray in Dublin April 25, 2017, 2:59 am

      In Ireland it is normal for us to dry our clothes on a washing line outdoors and our weather is very unreliable at the best of times. We often time our wash days around the weather. It’s not that we don’t have dryers it’s just that the norm for us is to consider it wasteful. We’re always astonished about people in the USA with all that glorious sunshine using dryers. The clothes would be dry in an hour. So you can get that bill down to about 10% and then add a few bucks in for those silly dryer sheets etc.
      Plus I didn’t spend a couple of hundred bucks buying the dryer anyway. :)

  • Carrie Willard October 16, 2016, 3:37 pm

    76 in summer!? Pfffffft!! I live in hot-as-Hades Atlanta, Georgia where the heat index is 106 and the humidity stifling, and we kept the AC at 81 last summer. Methinks my mustache is bushier than yours ;-)

    In the peak of the heat we took a dip in the free neighborhood pool.

    • Mr. Money Mustache October 20, 2016, 8:46 pm

      Thanks Carrie, you are right – that was ridiculous advice in this old article! I changed my number to “80” since this post is for beginners, but I have noticed that in my own house, 82 is perfectly comfortable given Colorado’s low humidity.

      In fact, since writing this article we’ve moved to a new house that I built mostly from scratch, and it doesn’t even have (or need) air conditioning at all due to better insulation and design.

  • Laura October 29, 2016, 9:04 pm

    We have solar panels on our roof, an inverter and batteries for our electricity. When it is cloudy, we might run the generator for a bit, to top up the batteries. We try to use as much natural light as possible. When we are working in Montana during the summer, we do not need AC. Our electricity is part of our rent, but we only use it really at night.

  • Liv October 30, 2016, 6:39 am

    I’m at about 996 KW last month which I assume is mostly from the water heater and maybe one or two days from a window a/c unit. I’m still shocked at how high the bill is, though it was significantly lower than it has been in prior years. I just fixed a leaking tub spout that continued to drain hot water while taking showers. I’m not sure how or if this will benefit me in cost savings quite yet, but it’s worth mentioning that if you’re in the same situation to look at hot water wastefulness (ie. high flower faucet heads, leaks, etc.) as it could be causing you to heat water unnecessarily.

  • Garrett November 6, 2016, 11:00 am

    MMM, I noticed that you have CFLs listed as the replacement to Incandescent lights. I know this article was written in 2011, but would it be possible for you to tell your past self to change “CFL” to “LED”? We know how environmentally unfriendly CFLs are compared to LEDs, particularly with the level of mercury in CFLs.

    It would be an excellent usage of your time-travel powers. :)

    • Ray in Dublin April 25, 2017, 2:56 am

      Agreed. LEDs are really only becoming economically viable since long after the article was written. Definitely LEDs are the way to go nowadays :)

  • Marushka November 16, 2016, 1:54 am

    As already mentioned in at least 2 other comments (Ocean from Hawaii in 2014, and someone else from New Zealand), your electricity prices in America are crazily low.

    While I know the article is 5 years old, I don’t think your prices will have gone up this much:

    1) The article said that the average family usage was 920kW per month, which would cost about ($Aus) $368 a month, $4416 a year. (Depending on what time of day you used it, a bit less or a bit more). In $US that’s about $3324 a year.

    2) DDDave in March 2014 says that he used between 2000kW and 4000kW for a number of months. His bill here would be between $9,600 and $19,200 Australian per year, or in $US that would be between $7,225 and $14, 463 per year.

    Like you in the US, some states are more expensive than others here in Oz, but I think South Australia may be the most expensive. When we moved from Sydney in 2012 and were in rental accommodation, we were astounded by our first winter (quarterly) electricity bill of $1200 – but that was only 687kW per month, we were in a poorly insulated rental and used electric heating.

    We built an eco-friendly house that was designed to maximise heating from the sun in winter, double-glazed windows, extra insulation, solar hot water panels and a 3kW solar panel system. We also have a 10,000 litre rainwater tank (not relevant to the electricity, I know), but that does save money as water is probably a lot more expensive here than in the US too.

    As my husband and I are home most days all day, we use a lot of electricity. The two of us live in a 2420 square foot house (I know, I know, most un-Mustachian, I apologise profusely!). My problem is I don’t look at how much we use – I tend to think only about what we pay. What we don’t use gets put back into the grid and we get some money back but not at the same rate we have to pay to use theirs. For example, we got a bill of $19.67 for the three months (over summer for us) ending 2 March 2016. We used 653kW of theirs (at night or on cloudy days), and we were charged $278 for that. However, we fed back in 905kW which we generated and didn’t use and got a ‘feed in’ payment of $204. That balanced out to us paying them $19.67 for three months power.

    Our problem was that the winter just gone was the 8th wettest winter on record, and so generated very little solar. As we just weren’t thinking about it, and as we were using the washer and dryer a lot more than usual (two puppies, one who joined us at 8 weeks of age, who are part of the family and sleep on our bed!), and we actually use very un-eco-friendly electric heating, we were shocked to get a bill of $710 for the three months – that was for using 687kW per month.

    I have to say my husband is not Mustachian in any way, and I’m a bit slack in some areas. I share some of the philosophy and wish I could be more frugal than I am.

  • Grimer November 24, 2016, 12:28 pm


    I’ve just found the site and am reading through from the start.

    I live in the UK and we used 939kWh for an entire year!

    That’s a two bedroom flat, big TV, HP home server running 24×7, washing machine, dishwasher, induction hob, electric oven/grill, kettle, etc. How on earth does somebody use that per month? We’re not even trying to be frugal with our electricity usage.


    Our central heating and hot water is via natural gas – 579KWh. Do Americans tend to have electrical heating in their homes?

  • Xavier January 9, 2017, 2:45 pm

    Clothes washing/drying: I want to reiterate what someone else posted. Mustaches should own enough socks and undergarments to do laundry once a month. I do a load of underwear and socks (with a moderate amount of bleach no one would ever know it sat in the basket for a month). A load of whites and a couple loads of colors. Done.

    Air conditioning: I have an additional cost cutter for childless mustaches. I keep the TV and computer in my bedroom, so I spend 95% of my time in one room of the house…I’m sure you see where this is going…rather than cooling the entire home, I simply maintain a mid 70’s temperature in my room throughout the summer months. Admittedly not feasible for families, but very practical for singles and childless couples.

    Note to MMM: I live in the “lower right” quarter of the country with AC special needs. When you suggest an 80 degree target I suspect you are not factoring in humidity. Our 75 is the equivalent of your 80. So mid 70’s is reasonable here assuming you dress light around the house.

    • Mr. Money Mustache January 10, 2017, 10:46 am

      Thanks for the tips, Xavier. Although I’d still suggest a target of 80F for air conditioning.. it dehumidifies as it cools, so a 90F outdoor day with, say, 90% humidity will translate to 80 inside with maybe 50%, right?

      Here in CO (under 10% humidity in summer), it’s often comfortable indoors even at 85F+.

  • Natasha January 27, 2017, 5:57 am

    I love your tough love, no BS attitude. It’s exactly what I need. I think a lot of what you say makes perfect common sense but in today’s entitled world it is much harder to digest than it should be. I am late to your blog but have literally binged on it for the past 3 days every chance I get. Thank you for a swift kick in the butt. Man did I need that.

  • Natasha January 27, 2017, 6:17 am

    I live in Massachusetts and I work Monday- Thursday outaide of the home and I have a long haired chcihuahua at home. I recently lowered my heating “while at work hours” from 68 degrees to 65.

    My question is can I lower it more without freezing my pup and my pipes? How low can you go before risking freezing pipes?

  • Jen March 30, 2017, 7:15 am

    Hi MMM & friends,

    How does one figure out the spread of items using energy from your electrical bill? For instance, how do you know how much your fridge, computers, lights, etc. take up? Thanks for any help!

  • Ray in Dublin April 25, 2017, 2:51 am

    Hi MMM. I just found your blog, luv it, sharing it around. We are so like minded that people who know me could think it was written by me. Due to my location relevant to work I haven’t owned a car for 2 years, hiring a brand new luxury model when I need one, bus it, bicycle 90% of the time = <€1000 per year in travel costs.

    No cable TV or Internet at my house – enough is supplied on my cell phone for €25 per month.
    My kids (7 + 3) get more time interacting with me than staring at a screen. We do have a huge collection of movies on a HD for rainy days. They really do laugh a lot louder with a €2 football in the park than hours of TV. Oh and they're fit… really really fit!

    Anyway for this post I'd say it's a little bit out of date now because of LED bulbs. They're so advanced no, they're fantastic. You can get them at any colour temperature and brightness (Lumens). They run at about 10% of the replacement tungsten bulb. And they're cheaper than the others.

    What about insulating your house? I met a woman from Australia who told me that insulating her house brought the temperature down by 7 degrees Celsius. Sounds like about 25% savings in cooling bills.

    In Ireland it is normal for us to dry our clothes on a washing line outdoors and our weather is very unreliable at the best of times. We often time our wash days around the weather. It's not that we don't have dryers it's just that the norm for us is to consider it wasteful. We're always astonished by people in the USA with all that glorious sunshine using dryers. The clothes would be dry in an hour. So you can get that bill down to about 10% and then add a few bucks in for those silly dryer sheets etc.
    Plus I didn't spend a couple of hundred bucks buying the thing in the first place.

    My favourite toy these days is the Solar Water Heating tubes I installed on the roof which heats a giant insulated tank of water in the house. I'd say I'm getting about 70% of my hot water free. On a frosty December day with clear blue skies I got 41 degrees Celsius at the bottom of the tank. Worst days are thick cloudy days that block all the infrared coverage. On those days I get about 28 degrees Celsius at the bottom of the tank. In summer I get water that's too hot to put your hand under, it's my first summer and don't have reading for it yet but I have seen it go to 53 degrees Celsius so far. It cost about €3000 in parts and we installed it ourselves. In our climate / for usage it will pay for itself in about 5 years but we guessed it added €10k to the value of the house instantly.

    Tap the solar supply into your washing machine and your machine doesn't have to heat the water – so your washing get's cheaper. Same for the dish washer except… I don't own one of those. I clean a couple of items when I'm done and like the dryer there's no need for a washer at all.

    Ok I'm going to read on a bit more now…

    cheers from Dublin.


  • Rebecca May 5, 2017, 9:48 am

    Where I live, we have time of use pricing. Depending on the time of year, 7pm-7am is always “cheap time” (I say that in quotes because are rates keep rising), and there is mid rate and high rate. In the summer, the high rate is mid day 11a-5p when people use their a/c and the mid rates are 7am-11am and 5pm-7pm. In the winter, the mid and high rates flip (changes May 1 and Nov 1). Weekends and holidays are always low rates.

    To cut costs, we do almost all our laundry in cold water (electric hot water heater) and at cheap rate times. Depending on volume of laundry with a toddler in the house, we might do some at mid rates if we have to. We line dry as much as possible, although our house is small, so in the cold/rainy weather, we use the dryer more.

    On average, we pay about $380/month in electricity costs. We have an electric heat pump and back up electric furnace for when the heat pump can’t keep up. Some people are shocked at our bill, but it is our only utility. We have no gas bill, no oil bill. The only other utilities I pay is phone & internet bills. Our bill gives us a breakdown of how much low, mid and high rates we used and our average electricity usage per day. They show us this month, this month last year and the past 6 months. We are also rural which is a lot more expensive for delivery costs. I live in Ontario, Canada.

    I was never a fan of CFL bulbs, although I used them. Now that the LED bulbs are becoming cheaper and more common, I am in the process of switching over. (I realize this blog post is from 6 years ago when CFL basically was the low cost option.)

  • Joe July 19, 2017, 8:04 am

    My electric bill in my old house was around $20 – $30 dollars a month. I didn’t have A/C (which really sucked in the summer) so that helped a bit. When I moved out, it dropped to under $10 bucks because there was almost no use.

    The main electrical company charges around 7 or 8 cents per kilowatt, but in Ohio we can choose out electrical supplier, so I was able to find someone who charges about 4 or 5 cents.

    I wrote about it (with charts!) on the following two blog posts:

  • DP August 11, 2017, 10:54 am

    Hi MMM and fellow Moustachians!

    I came to this blog from the New Yorker profile on MMM and am going through each post from the beginning! I have always been financially conscious, but thank you so much for providing the evidence. Now I can point people to your numbers and go see!

    I read through this post and all of your comments first to find more tips. I need all of your advice on how to further reduce my energy costs. Hope MMM and others reply!

    Quick background: I’m 26 and live in the Greater Toronto Area, in my paid-off home. I have no debt, aside from mortgages on two other rental properties. My principal residence with 3 other adults is a 5 year old, 3300 sq feet home (I know, I know, but it is the one luxury after working so hard!).

    The average energy consumption in Ontario is 800 kWh/month (https://www.oeb.ca/oeb/_Documents/Documents/Report_Defining_Typical_Elec_Customer_20160414.pdf). We are using about 400 kWh at about $60/month. The home is essentially new and so well insulated, good windows, energy efficient appliances, etc. We have all LED bulbs, use the AC maybe 3 times a year, the dishwasher maybe once a month, the washer and dryer twice a week (but only on weekends, as we have time-of-use pricing). The heating and water heater are gas-powered.

    With the electricity rates increasing every year, we would like to further reduce our consumption to about 300 kWh/month. I’m already planning to borrow/buy a kill-a-watt, and a thermal blanket for the water heater (thanks so much for the tips all!).

    How I can further reduce energy consumption?

    Many thanks,

  • Rae January 4, 2018, 3:30 am

    I’m in Hawaii renting a 3 bedroom spot, we are hardly home bc we gotta work all day , watch. Movies on occasion, don’t use ac but use a swamp cooler, don’t have a dryer, but recently got an microwave I use a few minutes a week? Supposed to have solar heater and we use flashlights and Christmas lights as nighlights and occasional ceiling fan.

    Here’s the thing .. my landlord is saying we used 1700 ? In one month?? I don’t feel this is right?! A I wrong to think his is too much??

    • Mr. Money Mustache January 5, 2018, 12:57 pm

      Yeah, 1700 kWh in one month is impossible under those circumstances, unless you have an electric water heater that is either leaking or powering a lot of long showers.

  • Boswell March 29, 2018, 10:51 am

    Having done almost every thing to cut our electricity bill LED’s turning shit off etc etc. last year I bought a £19.00 clothes airer from Homebase it was the fanciest one they sold result:
    Mar 2016 – Mar 2017 3800 kWh

    Mar 2017 – Mar 2018 1286 kWh


  • Kate August 6, 2018, 9:22 am

    What’s the best way to deal with high humidity levels in the home that could be damaging to the house?

    My husband and I live in (somewhat) humid Ottawa. We’re first-time homeowners, and have only been in our house one month.
    We’ve made it through this first month without having to engage our AC at all. Until we realized that humidity levels in the house (60% to even 70 on really bad days) is not good for the house.
    We’ve since turned on the AC to help with those levels. Is there a way to deal with humidity without having to engage the AC?
    We’ve replaced most downspouts since moving in, and will be working on fixing the grading around the house.

    • Mr. Money Mustache August 8, 2018, 4:25 pm

      Hi Kate,

      Hmm, 60-70% humidity shouldn’t be a problem for most houses, although if you are seeing mold on interior surfaces I would take it seriously and lower the humidity.

      Remember, that for MOST of Ottawa’s history (and including the present day for 100% of my family members in that area), nobody had air conditioning. So, surely it is not a necessary part of keeping your home healthy, right?

      • Kate August 8, 2018, 6:22 pm

        I think I’m more worried about high humidity at a constant state – an odd day of high humidity probably isn’t anything to worry about but the last couple weeks have been killer. We also wanted to make sure we were taking a proactive approach to any mold problems.

        I didn’t realize it was so uncommon here! Maybe we’re getting too caught up in what everyone else is saying is good or bad for us since for comfort we actually prefer no AC on at all and don’t have as many humidity problems as we thought

        • Seth August 9, 2018, 1:03 pm


          I’m from Houston, where humidity and high temperatures persist a majority of the year. From my experience, the key is airflow. We used to shut our bathroom door (to keep the cat from getting stuck behind the washer – ha). We saw a lot of mold, even in the winter months (warm showers caused it then). Immediately after opening up the door 24/7 this past January, we haven’t seen any at all.

          Our home is frequently between 84 and 88F (no AC on while we’re at work, and we keep it high when we’re home). So far, so good – and I think it’s due to increased airflow in the problem areas. We also love fans! That helps a lot. :)

        • Popeye February 6, 2020, 3:07 am

          Anyone who worries about moisture can also get a dehumidifier … a little machine that sucks water out of the air and dumps it in a drain or container. From $100 for a small model. Just make sure to read up about suitable capacity for the relevant space.

  • Tom August 17, 2018, 8:31 am

    Old post, still valid.
    But why have a dryer at all?

    We currently are at 108kWh/month, which is still too high in my book.
    Lights are all LED (ripped out the incandescents something like 5min after getting the key to the place), no AC, no dryer. Next step will be to combine more loads in the washing machine, 3 loads a week for two people is too much.

    • Mr. Money Mustache August 17, 2018, 10:08 am

      Nice work! Just make sure your fanatacism is saved for people like me who are actually on the same page, and that you break it to any skeptical domestic partners in a diplomatic way. Since differences in energy consumption can often be a cause for conflict :-)

      It is now many years since this post was written, and we moved to a new house. After four years at the new address, we still don’t have a dryer in that place (although Mrs. MM is ready for one). But we only do a single load every 1-2 weeks for three people. With that slow of a pace, it’s pretty easy to just schedule it on a day that will be sunny :-)

      • Tom August 21, 2018, 7:31 am

        “Fanatacism”, I like that, even though I don’t feel that way ;)
        I’m still working on one load-per-fortnight, but it used to be worse so I’m inclined to not feel too bad about it for now.

        Thanks for your encouragement and keep the blog a-chuggin’!

    • Dave August 19, 2018, 3:37 am

      A few energy saving observations after moving to a 500 year old house in the southwest France from northern Michigan about three months ago. 1. There are hardly any air conditioners in my town and many days have been between 90-95 degrees. Occasionally, you see a wall unit, but that’s it. People use wood shutters. During the hottest part of the day, they close them into a V-shape and leave about 2-3″ for airflow, at night you open them all the way to let in cool air. 2. the electric company gave me the option of requesting or Heures Crus or off-peak billing where consumption rates drop between 2200-0600 (I think some places in the US do this, but my local company didn’t offer it) 3. Many of the washers are about 1/3 the size of the ones we have in the US or you can by combo/washer dryer units. In any case, many dry the clothes on the line and if they do use a dryer, many work not by exhausting hot air, but through a water removal system which is then dumped out of a bucket into your flowers or whatever. The “cave” below the house gets a little humid, but that humidity flowing up combined with airflow throughout the house makes it very comfortable and is apparently exceptional for wine storage since the cave stays within 1-2 degrees C all year.

  • Matthew January 15, 2019, 11:50 pm

    I’m way late to the game here, but I figure it’s fitting that my first comment after years of reading be on such an early post, plus I want to brag.

    My total electricity usage last month was 79 kWh. This is down from about 119 before I replaced my old computer. The only thing in my home receiving a constant power supply is the refrigerator.

  • Julia H June 18, 2019, 7:24 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. I am a new reader making my way through one post at a time. I came to you by way of Brad and Johnathan from ChooseFI. I just looked at my past year in our new rental in CA and we averaged 200 kWh. I noticed that our high usage days were on Sundays- laundry. For me the big culprit is the dryer. I now hang my big items (sheets, towels, jeans, etc.) on a clothesline. The last two months have had 182 kWh and 181 kWh respectively and I hope to reduce that even more. This was a fun exercise to look at my usage and compare it to yours. I now see why my gas and electric bill is so much smaller than all of my friends and neighbors.


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