OK, so we have two refrigerators, two washers and two dryers. We take a lot of showers, but I have five kids, and the boys are particularly smelly. We don’t blast the air conditioning or the heat, but we do use it on occasion. I love Christmas but my Christmas lights display is a modest one and doesn’t draw a crowd of onlookers.
Are you ready? Every month we pay $800. That’s right. One month it was $1,000! Four digits, people. Do you know how much Botox that is? Do you know what kind of car I could be driving for $800 a month? How about a family vacation to the Bahamas?
Oh, we talk to PG&E all the time. We insist that something is surely wrong with our meter or our house, but they calmly explain that our large bill is due to the fact that we exceed our 345 kilowatts of electricity every month. Apparently everyone in my neighborhood gets 345 kilowatts whether they have one or 10 people in their house. Does that sound fair? It’s like we’re being punished for having so many kids.
I have teenagers. Isn’t that punishment enough? The minute you use that 346th kilowatt, you pay four times the amount per kilowatt. It’s a scam! I wrote the Public Utilities Commission. I got one of those patronizing letters thanking me for my concern. I lined my birdcage with that letter.
My husband and I got angry. We installed solar screens, an attic fan and we hid the space heater from my teenage daughter. In the winter, her room, which sits directly over the garage, can reach a nippy 49 degrees, but running one of those space heaters can run you about $10 a day! She told me she plans to sleep in her snow pants. Even with all our efforts, the bill has remained a whopping $800.
So here is my game plan. We’ve unscrewed half our light bulbs. Our thermostat is off. Totally. I’ve purchased about 500 candles and tea lights. I’ve alerted all my neighbors that we are now the Addams Family and our house will be eerily dark every night even though we are home, so don’t be afraid. We have not turned into vampires.
My seasonal baking ritual will now be replaced with Oreos and Chips Ahoy cookies. We’re buying a forestful of firewood, and I’m going to start washing dishes by hand by the light of a miner’s hat, which my husband has offered to buy for the entire family – even the dog.
Laundry? I actually think that buying new clothes every month might be cheaper than doing laundry, but here are the new rules: We’re all wearing the same clothes twice, (except underwear) unless, of course, there is an unsightly mustard stain or something equally icky. Five-minute showers, folks, unless the girls need to shave their legs; then it’ll be eight minutes. It’ll give a whole new meaning to the term “nick of time.” I’ll buy more Band-aids.
How about those televisions? Who needs ’em? Can’t the kids watch TV on their cell phones nowadays? Can’t we just go back to using those clever View Master toys I had as a kid? If you click the lever really fast, its almost like TV! Surprisingly, my kids are on board with this energy-saving plan. My 7-year-old has designed colorful posters instructing everyone to turn off the lights, and taped them up all over the house.
Telling the kids they might not find any Christmas presents under the tree this year might have had something to do with their enthusiasm. Oh, and I promised them new iPods, cell phones and a trip to Hawaii if we reduce the bill to $300, but I’m sure they just simply want to help the family cause. (Yeah, right!)
You know, I discovered an upside to all this. Sure, you might bump into a few walls at first wandering around in the dark, stubbing your toe on the couch reaching for that thermal blanket. But hey, you can’t see wrinkles in the dark, either …