Pros of Living in the Country:
- Lake view! With ducks and otters...
- Foxes, deer and bears mosey through our yard like we live in a Disney film
- Well water (the water in town tastes like a swimming pool)
- Peace and quiet
- More land than we could afford in town
- Better odds of surviving the Zombie apocalypse
- Beautiful neighbours:
Cons of Living in the Country:
- 35-60 minute drive into town (depending on where we're going in town/who's driving)
- No pizza delivery
- Mailbox that's 7 km away from the house
- Treacherous dirt road that covers the truck in mud
- Mud covered truck that covers my clothes in mud
- So much mud
Our lists get pretty lengthy, but always in favor of living out here! One money-saving perk was that (until recently) we had lower electricity bills than the folks in town. While those suckers were on time of use (TOU) billing for electricity, we enjoyed less expensive tiered pricing. TOU simply means that there are different prices for using power at different times of the day/week and the highest prices are, of course, when people are getting ready for work or making dinner at the end of the day. In other words, when you need electricity. This is the breakdown:
Time of use is often flogged as a way to save money on your bill (lies!) but, if I remember correctly, it was created to get people to move energy consumption to lower demand times to relieve the burden on the electricity infrastructure.
In the sticks, our two tiered pricing meant that we paid the low, low price of only 9 cents per kWh every day, all day. If we used a ton of electricity it went up to a second tier of pricing that was still only 11 cents. Overall, we saved a bundle compared to our electricity bills in Ottawa, which were TOU, plus it was super convenient to do laundry or run the dishwasher when I needed to, instead of letting it all pile up until 7pm. I would often call my Mom in town and brag about running the dishwasher at noon.
We were switched over, kicking and screaming, to TOU a few months ago and immediately our bill increased by about $100 a month, despite our best efforts to keep power usage low during peak hours. It's impossible to get our bill down to the low price it once was unless we become Mennonites!
We routinely scrutinize our bills these days, looking for ways to cut our costs and comparing our current prices to (the glorious days of) this time last year when we had our old pricing structure. Because we've been looking so carefully at ours bills, we happened to noticed something curious about our energy consumption: since July, we've been consistently using more power each month, compared to the same bill last year. It's not enough to make a real dent on the bill (TOU is squarely to blame for that), but it's enough to make us wonder what the heck happened! We can't think of anything that changed about our lives so we've been on this mission to track down the culprit, examining how much power everything - from our air exchange unit to our water heater - uses. We suspect something might be malfunctioning and drawing more power than it should. Finding and fixing it won't lower our bills by much, but every little bit helps!
Because we've been so obsessively focused on our energy costs recently, when HomeSelfe reached out and asked me to review their (free!) HomeSelfe app, which helps assess your home's energy rating, I was definitely game! The app has pretty adorable graphics that made thinking about my home (Are my windows double pane? How old is the fridge? Is the water heater wrapped with insulation?) a lot less boring.
See what I mean about adorable graphics?
I was expecting a very perfunctory quiz with the basics we all know (Insulate the attic! Turn off the lights when you're not home!) but the app delved deeper and really made me research some of the aspects of my home that might not be energy wise, and then provided some helpful, customized tips and upgrades I could make:
After I completed the quiz, some recommendations were made and, for folks in the US, there's the option to connect with vetted professionals to get quotes to address some of the problems the app isolated. It makes the whole process pretty easy plus HomeSelfe hustles to try and save you some money! We've gotten some pretty sweet rebates in the past when we've made energy-conscious upgrades, but sometimes those rebates can be tricky to find.
At the very least, this app got me thinking about my home's energy usage and where Hubby and I might want to spend some bucks as we update our house - to save money on our bills in the future. Sometimes I just need a little push like this to think more about the nuts and bolts of my home, which are decidedly less exciting than new furniture or art.
Now, if only I could figure out what the electricity suck is...