Turn Out The Lights!

I am on a mission. The goal? To get our power bill under $100. Our average bill now is over $200! That is a ridiculous amount of money, and I’m tired of paying it! But how can we possibly get the bill down so far?

Well, there are many ways to reduce our electricity usage. But today I’m going to talk about the first thing I am working on to bring down our bill.


We’ve always been good about turning a light off when leaving a room. Even the kids are in the habit of flipping that switch back down. But it never occurred to me, until recently, that perhaps we don’t need to have so many light bulbs on per room. Have you ever gone through your house and counted exactly how many light bulbs you have? You might be surprised.

As I went through our home the other day, I counted 60 light bulbs! Do we really need nine bulbs in one bathroom? Or nine in the kitchen? So, I set to work unscrewing all but 15; one bulb for each room- three for the kitchen.

Lets do some math. Your power bill is based on how many kilowatts per hour you use in a month (KWH). What you are charged per hour depends on where you live. You can figure this out by looking at your power bill and dividing your payment due by the total KWH used. Mine comes to 10.5 cents per kilowatt hour.

The average light bulb is 60 watts, right? If you left that light on for one hour, you would have  used 60 watt hours, or .06 kilowatt hours. So, according to what I get charged per KWH, I would have to pay .006 cents for that one hour. Doesn’t sound like much does it?

But multiply that by the 60 bulbs I have in my home and by about 5 hours of usage per day (just guessing on that one), and my cost would be around $2 per day. Multiply that by the days in the month… you see where I’m going with this. We are paying somewhere around $50-$60 per month for our lights.

If I’m going to try to reduce my monthly power bill, turning out the lights is a great place to start!

So, I went through the house unscrewing bulbs in every room. All of the bedrooms have an overhead fan/light, as well as a lamp on a dresser. I unscrewed all of the overhead lights, and left the one bulb in the lamp as the main light source. I also replaced the lamp bulbs with the new 13 watt compact florescent bulbs.

I did the same in every other room in the house- leaving only one bulb on, and replacing the 60 watt bulb with a compact florescent one, except for the kitchen- I left three lights on in there, one was the bulb over the stove.

I knew that if I didn’t totally unscrew the bulbs, that out of habit we would walk into the room and flip the light on. And it would be hard to stop doing that. Sure enough, later that evening when the kids went to their rooms there was mass confusion! “Mommy!! My light doesn’t work!” I showed them both how to turn their lamps on, and explained that we don’t really need to have four lights come on when we enter the room, and that we’d be doing our best to save money on the power bill.

Even I have found myself walking into a room and flipping the light switch on. And when nothing happens I remember to use the lamp. We’ve been doing this for five days now, and you know, it’s amazing how little light you really need! One bulb in the bathroom is plenty. And a single lamp as the main source of light in a room is surprisingly sufficient.

We are so spoiled as Americans. Nine light bulbs in a bathroom… seriously? It it truly necessary? And it’s so funny to me that I never questioned that! I simply filled the fixtures with bulbs, and dutifully replaced the burnt out ones.

Well, now I am seeing things in a whole new light! (Ha ha) I’m anxious to see how our power bill is effected over the next few months.

(As a side note, please read this warning about using compact florescent light bulbs. They do contain mercury, so be very careful not to break one!!)

So what do you think? How many bulbs do you have in your home? Do you think you could live with half that amount of light?

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17 thoughts on “Turn Out The Lights!”

  1. What a great post! I sat here & counted 49 lightbulbs in our house! We do a great job about turning them off but I never thought about how many there were. I am going to change that today!!!

  2. Oh, I forgot to add that I would not feel guilty about running a fan in a child’s room, I have read that studies show a decrease in SIDS cases with children in well ventilated rooms, and many suggest putting a small fan in a child under 2’s room, just like taking the bumpers out of a crib… sigh, there are so many things we are supposed to do. I actually went out and got mesh bumpers for airflow, because I read about many parents having their child break an arm or something in a bumperless crib, wrenching it in the bars… we just do the best we can I guess lol, its not in our hands after all.

  3. There are so many little things that can be done, if I could I would only use LED lightbulbs, they cost more, but last very very long and contain no mercury (even kids toys use LEDs) and are mega ultra efficient compared to a flouresent bulb. Things like keeping a freezer full (even if its just with water jugs to fill the gap), cooling items before sticking them in the fridge and even keeping a list of items in the fridge and freezer on the door of it, so you don’t go “looking” for a snack or drink mindlessly. I bet even switching to drinking tap water over juice from the fridge could have an effect on electricity, the less often you open them, the less they need to run.
    Don’t forget natural light too, remember that some places changed daylight savings time to make it lighter earlier so that you didn’t need to use as many lights in the morning to get ready, open the blinds 🙂 Just make sure it isn’t hot or air conditioning costs may cloud this benifit.
    Maintenance is a big one, just like keeping air pressure in tires improves gas milage so too does emptying your lint trap in your drier, and wash it once a month, build up on lint traps causes lint to repel from it and not work properly, a little soap and air drying can help your dryer work to its best.
    I have already posted too much, but I could go on and on lol, here is one of many good sites to go to about electricity saving, I like that it explains and costs out every option

    (ps, I have been thinking about saving up and buying a laptop, because they are way more efficient than desk computers and don’t have ‘phantom load’. also remember to unplug your chargers for phones and devices, they are major phantom loaders… okay, I will be quiet now…)

  4. What you have said makes so much sense. I have been doing battle with our utility bills since December. At the end of Dec. we got the killer $500 propane bill. I almost croaked, then remembered – that’s okay – I pay a little extra each month so when the cold months roll around, it won’t kill me. Then at the end of January I got another $500 propane bill. OUCH. The extra money was gone and now I am behind! I have almost paid that off and just got Februaray’s bill! After the second “killer” bill I decided that we do NOT need to run the heater all day every day. We have bundled up, put extra blankets on the bed, covered (or double covered) some of the single pane windows in the house to prevent heat loss). Because the heater was going all the time, not only were we burning propane but the power bill was crazy high too! I have gotten it down but we still have a long way to go – I want the propane to be no more than $200 in the cold months and the PG&E to be no higher than $100 – we will see, we will see!

  5. Honestly, when we switched to CFL’s from regular bulbs, we only saw about a $3-$5/mo difference, if even that much. But power up here is a lot cheaper because we have dams and other things going on, and I’m always turning off lights when leaving rooms, or like right now, cracking open a curtain for some low light rather than turning on a lamp, drilling into the kids to turn lights off when they’re done in their room or bathroom (now, if I could only get hubby to listen to me, too…). Right now I have 10 light bulbs on – a chandelier in the living room (opening the curtains lets in cold air, it’s chilly here today!), and chandelier in the dining room where I currently am.

    What made the biggest difference in our power bill though? When older appliances die, we get more efficient ones (water heater, dishwasher, oven, fridge), we switched to using our wood stoves solely for heat (except those 3 days this winter when we were out of town and set the furnace to 57*F so things wouldn’t freeze), etc. Getting away from the natural gas furnace and electric baseboard cut our bill from $230/mo to about $85-$100/mo for a family of 4, then 5, now 6 plus perpetual guests. That’s *with* up to two kids in cloth diapers with me washing and drying all. the. time. plus with the wood heat we can keep the whole house a balmy 74*-84* for less than it’d cost to pay the power company to keep it at 65-70*. Even the realtors we’ve talked to are impressed with our power bill, especially for our medium sized house.

    We do have fans for white noise at night though – otherwise the idiots speeding down our residential road will wake up the kids (Harleys, crotch rockets, and pimped out Eclipses with the music blaring, fun, fun), and I wouldn’t be able to do my end-of-day housework at night when they’re in bed. Our house may be decent sized, but it’s not *that* big, and I can’t fill the dishwasher with dishes when 1-2 kids are literally trying to crawl into the dishwasher. *sigh*

    • Lanna- Girl, I totally feel for you! I DO NOT miss the noisy city streets!! Right after Titus was born my husband almost got in a fist fight in the front yard with the man from right across the street because he thought it was such fun, day after day, to sit in his driveway and rev up his Harley… for no apparent reason at all!! Our sleepy newborn could not get a good nap in, and neither could I!! Boy, am I glad to be away from that! Now, I have to admit, there are some days when we’ve left the Rooster out over night, when I do run the fan in Ty’s room so that the crowing at the crack of dawn doesn’t disturb him. But that’s not very often. I’d take crowing over motorcycles any day!

  6. Good luck! Sounds like just by taking some of the lights out you will be reducing your bill quite a bit! We actually don’t have that many lights in our house…about 12 including lamps, outside lights, and stove light. But then, our mobile home is only about 750 sq feet:) But it does get dark in here. I’m trying to cut down our light usage as much as possible, it helps that it has been sunny out so I don’t have to keep the lights on just to make it feel like daytime in our house 🙂

  7. I changed all the old light bulbs with the newer energy efficient light bulbs. Not to save the planet or anything, just to save my wallet. I was really surprised at how much it helped. Almost immediately we noticed a $15 a month savings. Then we put all “phantom load” items on a power strip with a switch and hit the switch to shut those off when not in use. That brought our savings up to $20+ a month. If I could convince my wife to turn off the fan at night (for white noise)I think we could increase the savings. I have two bathrooms and in both of them the light is connected to the fan. If you turn on the light, you also get the fan. I would like to change that and be able to turn on the fan only when it is called for. Now that the sun is out more, I believe we will save even more by opening up the curtains to let more light in.

    • Joel- it’s funny that you mentioned that your wife runs a fan for “white noise” at night. My husband does the same thing!! It drives me nuts! But I’ve been very proud of him. Since we made the light bulb switch, he also, all on his own, decided to turn the fan off at night. What do you know… he can still get to sleep!! I’m hoping he continues the habit of sleeping w/out the white noise. He started running a fan in the kids rooms, but I quickly stopped that. I don’t want them to grow up dependent on a fan running to go to sleep too! 🙂

  8. We actually don’t have that many light bulbs persay in the house BUT we do have the overhead florescent lights, you know like the ones in an office building? We live in an apartment and these are the types of lights our landlord so chooses to use. Because of that we don’t have lamps as those light are quite sufficient. Fortunately, we don’t use them that often except when we eat at dinner and then at night. But even then they are so bright that we only need to use one set (there are 4 sets in our great room). Now if I could get the kids to turn their lights off! LOL I’m forever walking back to their room to shut their light off! Good luck on your mission- over the past 6 months I’ve dropped our bill by $100 so it is possible!

  9. we’ve done the same, but mostly the only bulb in each room of ours is in the overhead light… so much easier to just hit the switch, even if its a reduced wattage.

    i really wanna get one of the “kill-a-watt” things to figure out how much each random thing is using being plugged in.

    particularly our well. its only hooked up to outside… but as expensive as electricity is, and cheap as water is… and as much as it runs to maintain water level when we’ve been using it and for the next few weeks afterwards… im thinking moneywise it might not be the best option


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