The $1,000 Plan: Day Four

It is Day Four of our household endeavouring to save $1,000 over a 4 - 6 week period. One of the other areas I felt needed potentially redressing, to achieve this goal, was our household electricity consumption. As we fast approach winter here in New Zealand, electricity consumption can become a significant issue, as everyone desires to keep warm and also have those extra hours of lighting each day.

With our electricity consumption already proving to be quite high over the last several months, I was concerned about how things were going to pan out over winter. So next on the list of things that we as a household needed to take stock of was just how, when and why we were using so much electricity. Just where was it all being repeatedly consumed? Were there things we could do and do smarter?

It can be too easy to walk from room to room thinking that you need to turn an overhead light on. It can also be too easy to leave lights unnecessarily burning away here, there and everywhere. I set the challenge over the weekend, that we all needed to be wiser about our use of electricity, as it seemed like it was potentially a little out of hand.

It can be hard breaking habits that have become entrenched. For that reason, and also to make the point super clear that we all needed to make a little more conscious effort to think through just how we were using the electrical lighting throughout the house, I started removing actual light bulbs from light fixtures.

By actually removing the light bulbs from various rooms around the house, for instance in each bedroom, it provided a direct point of reference for everyone about the need to really think through what were the absolutely necessary sources of electrical lighting in our home.

Did we really need light bulbs in bedrooms, when we were going to all be going to bed earlier? Did we really require the use of three overhead lights in the garage and laundry area? By literally removing the light bulbs, it provided a graphic illustration to our young children that we really were using far more electrical lighting each day than was really necessary.

For the past week we have journeyed through the days with electrical lighting being only available in the bathrooms (one light source, rather than three), the toilet, the kitchen, one light source in the dining area, plus one light source in the laundry and garage, and one also in the office. At any point in time, we have reminded each other to try and use the same source of light, rather than scurry off to do something in another area of the house. This has also helped everyone to be more involved in making a collaborative effort to think through our choices on the electricity consumption front.

Everyone has adapted quite quickly and it really has been so interesting to see just how much artificial lighting we really require. One child has already commented that they feel more refreshed in the morning, now that there is no hall light on for a length of time when they go off to bed. It has obviously been something of an eye opener to them, that there can also be health benefits to having less artificial light lengthening out their waking hours and affecting their sleeping patterns.

During the day, while the children and I are home-based and busy with homeschooling and other activities, we have used little to no electrical lighting. This has meant we have had to be more conscious of opening curtains and blinds, and seeking out to sit near windows and doorways that have provided the best of natural lighting.

We are nearly at the end of the first week, and everyone has to date managed to adapt well to some of the routine changes that were put in place. It is great to see and hear that everyone is already seeing some positive results. We will hopefully reach our monetary saving goal and gain some new healthy day to day habits.

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