Lerma’s First Post: Cutting Our Electricity Bill

Welcome back to The Lerma Experience! I’m your host, Mr. Lerma and this is my first entry for our (The Future Lady Lerma, or FLL, and my) new blog. Everything FLL wrote in the last entry still applies. We want to be debt free, FLL wants to retire in seventeen years’ time, and we want to be happy and free. When we both decided we wanted to be aggressive in erasing our debt, we only considered the goal, to be in the black, but we may not have, or maybe it was I who didn’t understand just how difficult cutting costs could be! Before moving the D.C. area, FLL and I were employed in the military and lived in Naples, Italy, where we were able to enjoy nice pay checks on the first and fifteenth of the month and travel throughout the continent for relatively inexpensive prices.   Once we returned to the states and began to transition in to the civilian world, we were quickly surprised by the high costs of living; an average of $2,500 for a two-bedroom apartment, an incredibly overpriced metro system, and the high tax surprise on FLL’s first pay-check. It was all very scary, many nights we laid in bed worried about how we would make ends meet and whether or not we would have to take on second jobs. I think our story is one that will resonate with many people, especially those living in high cost –of living-areas because, unfortunately, we live in a world were we are encouraged to live just outside of our means and put it all on credit to be paid down later. It is our hope that the little tips we are experimenting with may give anyone reading the blog a new idea or encourage them to do what we are doing, looking for new ways to save a little money.

Now that that is out of the way, I’d like to share with you two ideas, both super simple, that have helped us save on our Internet and electricity bill.

First, lets talk about the electricity. I should prompt this by letting everyone know that we live in an apartment. It’s really a nice place and we were incredibly lucky to land here (especially since when we moved to the DMV we had no idea where to live, what the housing costs were like, and what type of area would be the best for us), but electricity bills for an apartment are far cheaper that those you would have for a home. That being said, I imagine these easy changes would still have some sort of effect on everyone’s bill regardless of dwelling. One day, and I don’t remember who had the idea; one of us realized that our dryer might have been the driving factor of our soaring electricity bill. We both manage to get through quite a bit of laundry every week and those three to five hours of drying time every week certainly seemed like something that would not help us in the long run. So it was decided that we would no longer use our dryer and instead buy another drying rack (we already had one that Jen liked to use) and hang our clothes to dry in the house. However, after looking through amazon and searching the web for the highest rated drying rack, I realized most racks didn’t have a ton of cubic footage and we’d probably be running our washer more to get though shorter loads which would cancel out whatever we might save on the dryer. So, with some rope FLL had from a planned backpacking trip, she hung a drying line in our guest bathroom from the rod of the shower to the towel rack, giving us space to hang larger quantities of laundry than we would otherwise be able to. That coupled with our already existing drying rack made our experiment a huge success! How much of a success you ask? Well, we dropped our electricity bill from $88.05 in July to $58.01 for this month! A HUGE savings and while we did make a few other changes like keeping our thermostat set to 75 until we go to bed, and cutting it off when we weren’t home (another simple trick that many of us do not consider) we believe that the laundry rack made a big impact. Some people may want shy away from this because they are concerned about stiff cloths or because of the added time it takes to hang up all your garments, but there are solutions to these problems, like adding citric acid to the wash to keep the clothes from stiffening or hanging the laundry while you watch you nightly stories. I promise you, it really isn’t a hassle and it could end up saving you some money! In our case, it could save us up to $240a year! If you are interested in getting rope for a clothesline, Lowes has a braided polyester line, 50ft, for $2.88 (http://www.lowes.com/pd/Lehigh-0-187-in-x-50-ft-Braided-Polyester-Rope/50168153?cm_mmc=SCE_PLA-_-ToolsAndHardware-_-ChainAndRope-_-50168153:Lehigh&CAWELAID=&kpid=50168153&CAGPSPN=pla&store_code=1136&k_clickID=932d2e62-cc7c-4aea-84f5-86fd3e3c6719 ) or, if you’d prefer something other than polyester, you can look here http://www.knotandrope.com/store/pc/Cotton-Rope-c6.htm and get various types of rope at reasonable prices. Here’s a picture of our little set up:

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At the moment, there isn’t much on the line, and as you see, it will need to be tightened up on occasion after hanging something heavy on it like floor mats.  If we have guests over, we simply take the line down and we have our guest bathroom back.  Easy!

The second little change we made recently involves the Internet. FLL and I do not watch T.V. I have a huge collection of movies that I love to watch and if FLL wants to see something, she gets on the Internet and starts streaming. What stinks is it’s more expensive to have just Internet service than it is to have a bundle and that means you have to pay for the equipment rental that comes with it. Or do you? The answer of course is no, but we didn’t think about that. We were just so use to having a modem come with the Internet and a cable box that comes with the cable to even question the added rental costs or look for alternative options. Then one day, something sparked and I decided to get rid of the cable box and modem. It was really simple to call Verizon and have them send me a FREE shipping box for the cable box; this alone has saved us $9.99 a month! However, that plan has not been fool proof. Our area only has Verizon Fios, no high speed internet for us, and their Router is super special, not just any will do, and that has proven to make it difficult to find something at a reasonable cost to replace the provided equipment. In fact, I’ve already purchased and returned two different routers that proved to be no match for whatever the company is doing with their fiber optic lines. Once I find something that works, that will save us another $9.99 each month leading to another saving of almost $240 a year in total rental fees. Additionally, it never hurts to see what promos Verizon is running each month because that can also help save you a few bucks on the service, in our case, we knocked $2 off our for the last two months. It isn’t much, but it’s something!

I hope that this little bit of advice gives someone some help. We will both make sure to keep you in the know of any new hacks and our daily trials as they come.

-Lerma

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