How I Saved Money On Electricity.

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I saved money on my last electricity bill.

I paid about $AU30 for the month.

Down from $AU50 the previous month and $AU70 I was paying on average for the first few months of occupancy in this dwelling.

I used a solar powered camping light. It cost me about $AU25 from a local camping store (you could probably find one cheaper online).

It’s effective and easy.

I leave it outside to charge every day. I bring it in when the sun goes down and turn it on. Easy. 7 – 8 hours of direct sunlight, which is usually abundant in this part of Australia, creates about 12 hours of light.

I barely turn on lights in my house.

Admittedly, I live in a very small house. In a bigger house you might need more than one light.

Also, it is now summer and daylight saving in Australia, which means the sun sets later and the light is easier to charge. During winter I imagine it may be more difficult to charge and, of course, it won’t work on rainy days.

The light emits enough light to cook, work on the computer and do house work. I even take it into the bedroom to read. I simply turn it upside down so that the light beams up towards the ceiling and onto the pages of the book. (I still read paper books – maybe I’m old fashioned). The light is currently elucidating the bush ballads of Australian author Henry Lawson.

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I could actually say it is an even greater reduction on my power bill, because during winter last year, in a different rental property, I was paying up to $AU250 per month on electricity.

Yes, ridiculous.

I had to keep the heater on while I slept, otherwise the temperature in the bedroom would drop to about 0 Celsius. For me, that’s cold.

At times, it was warmer in the ocean, about 200 metres from the house, than it was inside the unit – so I used to swim in the icy waters, figuring that if I was going to be cold anyway I might as well stay fit.

If I didn’t use the heater all night I would be forced to sleep with a tracksuit, thick socks, multiple blankets and a doona and even a beanie. Even then I would not be warm and I got a cold which I just couldn’t shake.

Why was it so cold?

It shouldn’t have been. The house is about 2 hours south of Sydney and, while this region gets colder than Sydney, it’s not Siberia.

I rented the bottom floor of a well-built, double brick house located at the bottom of a south facing slope which received next to no sunlight. The absence of natural light also meant that it was necessary to use a machine which extracted the dampness from the flat. This churned through electricity during the day and the heater churned through power at night.

I was burning through fossil fuels and through my bank balance.

The only natural light arrived in the afternoons through the west facing lounge room window, but the blinds on this window couldn’t be left open without looking straight into the neighbour’s house, which is a contemporary house wrapped in large windows, without curtains affording great views of the ocean. I couldn’t enjoy the sunlight without watching the neighbours enjoying their favourite reality TV show.

It forced me to think about the amount of energy being wasted and the amount of pollution generated through unintelligent design. Many new homes, throughout the world, are still built with no concession for their natural setting. This forces the occupants to rely on air conditioning or heating which is usually powered by destructive fossil fuels.

Why don’t you install a proper solar system?

I rent.

If and when I can ever afford to buy my own house I will definitely install a solar system and other sustainable energy saving systems. Meanwhile, I have to improvise.

I will continue to use my little camping light. I’ll also keep looking for other methods to reduce my use of fossil fuels and my power bill.

The light is made by Luci. This is not an endorsement of Luci. There are other brands available. This just happened to be the one sold at my local camping store.

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