Tightening the Belt: Part 2 – the Breaker Box Game

31 Mar



After posting Saving on the Electric Bill, a good friend of mine, Alison, commented on how she cut her electric bill in half!  How?  By turning off the breakers that weren’t in use.  Our bill decreased by approximately 30% of what it was last month, by using space heaters instead of baseboard heaters (and with warmer weather). However, that is still double what it should be!  So this month I am going to play the breaker box game and see how much I can save! 


Here’s the plan:

1.  Figure out how to read a meter.  I went out expecting to see an easy digital number, but instead, there are 5 dials all spinning different ways!!!  Don’t worry!  It’s simple.  Check out these instructions. 

2.  Learn your breaker box.  Where is it?  What does each breaker supply the energy for?  Use labels if it isn’t already there or make new ones if they are hard to read.  Be sure to know which one works the refrigerator and deep freeze!  It would not save you money if you had to replace hundreds of dollars in groceries!

3. Chart your readings.  Choose a day that you will be home and check the meter every hour.  For the first hour, chart how many kilowatts are used with all the breakers on.  Check the meter each hour turning off one breaker at a time.  If you notice that one breaker slows the meter down tremendously, find out why.  For example, when Alison was learning her breaker box, she learned that her water heater was using way too much energy.  She had it cleaned and serviced and that reduced the bill a great deal. 

4.  Play the game.  Yes, it will be a PAIN to go down into my creepy basement multiple times a day!  But Alison assures me that you get used to it and it becomes second nature and that it will be worth it!  She wouldn’t lie to us!!!  So, if you will be gone all day, turn off all the breakers!  If you have finished the laundry the dishes and the showers, turn off the water heater breaker!  You will learn how much time you need to reheat the water.  If there is anything that shares an important breaker, like the TV and the refrigerator, be sure the TV is plugged into a surge strip and REMEMBER TO TURN THAT STRIP OFF!!!


I’m ready to save!!!  I won’t be able to report a full month this month because they read my meter last week, but I still expect to see a dramatic decrease!  I will definitely report back and hope you do, too!

One Response to “Tightening the Belt: Part 2 – the Breaker Box Game”


  1. Tightening the belt: Part 2 Update – Results from the Breaker Box Game! « Adventures in Momville - April 26, 2010

    […] was 3 times higher than it had ever been with previous tenants!  So, I presented a challenge here to myself to compare the breaker box and the meter in order to completely turn off the energy […]

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