19 September 2013

The No Power Challenge

From mid-September the way electricity in Victoria will be priced is changing. There will be peak, off-peak and shoulder periods and the price will vary according to the time of day,  and the day of the week, with the busiest part of most people's day being of course the most expensive. And so I have been thinking.

The off-peak rate runs from 10pm - 7am. This will be the cheapest rate for electricity. I don't know about you but I'm not that keen on staying up at night to do the washing and the floors, and running the dishwasher when the rest of the family is trying to sleep just won't work in our household.

Electricity prices are on the rise. It's a catch 22 situation because our reliance on electricity is also on the rise. Almost every appliance in our homes is electric: stoves and ovens, microwave ovens, kettles, food processors, mixers, toasters, sandwich makers, bread makers, washing machines, irons, clock radios, hair dryers, toothbrushes, shavers, heaters, air conditioners, vacuum cleaners, computers, lighting and the list goes on.

Many of those appliances have a non-electric version that we could just as easily use, but we've been brain-washed into thinking they are too hard to use or too old-fashioned. They're not!

And they slash power use. And that slashes the power bill, saving us all money.

I've been curious as to just how much we use electricity because we have it  at the flick of a switch, because it's too convenient. In August I put out a challenge to Cheapskates Club members: could they live for 48 hours with access to just 3 hours of electricity a day?

The challenge was accepted and the results were interesting. Overall most households managed with a few lifestyle modifications. They all said they wouldn't want to have to live with such limited power forever.

So do you think you can live with access to just three hours of electricity a day? Are you prepared to accept the challenge and see if you really can cut your electricity use and slash that bill without compromising your lifestyle?

Are you up to the challenge? Just two days, 48 hours, and you can choose the days, to try living with access to electricity for just three hours a day.

The rules are simple and more guidelines than rules. You can:
1. Commit to the challenge by leaving a comment below agreeing to participate in the challenge.
2. Spread the word. Talk about it, email it to your family and friends, blog and tweet about it. Encourage as many people as you can to take part.
3. Use whatever appliances you need to during the 3 hours of allowed power time. You could have the TV and every light in the house on if you need too (an extreme example).
4. Break the three hours up any way you want, but once the time is up that's it - no more electricity for the day. We chose 45 minutes in the morning and 2-1/4 hours of an evening.
5. You can use battery powered appliances out of hours.
6. You can use any appliances during the "on" hours.

You can't:
1. Use any appliance that requires a power point or light switch during the 21 hours a day you can't access power, the exceptions being fridges and freezers, wired in smoke detectors and any medical aides that must be used (nebulizers, ventilators etc.).

I'd like you to keep a diary for the 48 hours, recording what you used and what you found you didn't really need to use, the things you missed, how you filled in TV time if you normally watch TV, how the family filled in the evening without power or lights etc. whether or not you were able to stick to the three hours or just found it unrealistic or impossible, and record the actual amount of power you used in total over the six hours.

You can add your diary notes and ask any questions in the comments below.

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  1. Wow! Three hours isn't much time really. As a sahm the power is on for something all day every day in our house. I don't know that we could do without it.

    I messaged Dh and he was speechless when I read the challenge to him and suggested we try it lol - I liek my creature comforts and power is one of them

    He figures as long as I'm prepared to give it a go we can, he goes to work all day so he has power at his fingertips :)

    So we're in but we won't start until Monday morning I'd never last a weekend without power.

  2. Interesting experiment. We'll give it a go, Monday and Tuesday. Kids would never survive the weekend without their tv or computers.

  3. Yep im up for it Wednesday and Thursday are the two days im going to do :) Explained it to hubby and he was really interested since our stove is electric so is our hot water system and its still quite cold up here :) I cant wait to start it - CountryGurl.

  4. Using solar or energy efficient equipments are good for saving money in electric bills. Today many high technology equipments are available in market. One can also find a suitable option on internet. Using an energy efficient electric heater can save a lot of your money. So choose the heating appliance wisely and save yourself from heavy bills.

  5. Hello, I'm slowly going over all of your posts and making note of everything to try!! Just did the washing powder - loving it so far!

    In regards to your appliances such as washing machine and dishwasher, have you tried using a timer? Our washing machine can be set to start 48 hours after we turn it on, so I always set mine to start up after 11pm. And my husband has put a timer on our dishwasher (something he found online) so that we can set it and walk away to be done later! It saves sooo much money... We're also upgrading our fridge to something more efficient. My husband worked out that we spend over $500 a year extra because our fridge is not efficient. It's still going to cost us more than the $50 dollars we originally spent on the fridge, but if we intend to keep it for 20+ years, it's worth it!

    Thanks for writing such an amazing blog!

    1. Hi Amanda,

      My whizz bang fantastic water and power efficient Fisher & Paykel washing machine doesn't even have a suds saver or a soak setting, let alone a timer. The issue with the washing isn't so much the time, although the noise when everyone is trying to sleep is annoying, but of having the washing sit wet in the machine for hours. During winter it might not be too much of a problem but during the summer wet washing sitting in a closed washing machine for at least six hours is going to start to mildew, stink and rot.

      I don't let the washing sit in the machine, as soon as the cycle has finished it's out and on the line, even in the middle of winter.

      That's why washing powders have fragrance in them, to cover up the musty odour caused by leaving wet washing sitting in a small, closed space. Take the wet washing out of the machine and hang it straight away and you don't need to worry about smelly washing powders.

    2. Heya,

      We only recently got the timer for the dishwasher, so I've yet to see anything with regards to mildew, stink or rot. But I'll definitely adjust to not leaving it too long, just in case!

      It never actually concerned me leaving clothes in the washing machine for a while... I suppose since I only just started using the powder you blogged about, I might see this soon enough! I'll set to start before I wake then, I think. Come to think of it, I've got some sitting in the washer right now... Oops!



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