One of the first things that my husband and I did after buying our first house was to put the highest-rating insulation we could find in the roof cavity and solar panels on top. At the time, even the 1.5kW system that we installed was enough to completely negate our electricity bill, and with the exception of the few months after we moved to our current house and the panels weren’t installed yet, we haven’t had an electricity bill since.
That was almost 10yrs ago.
And, no, we don’t skimp; we turn lights on when it gets dark, we use the dryer when it has been raining for a few days and we need dry clothes, we both have computers that are on all the time (Husband is in IT so he actually has 3 or 4 going at once, plus the server, plus my computer in my office, plus the laptop on the patio (where I prefer to work), plus the laptop/dvd-player in the kitchen). But we do do things more efficiently: we have solar hot water (one of the biggest portions of most power bills is the electric hot water system), we do have an aircon (another big cost), but it’s a really inefficient central system so we avoid using it and instead use fans as much as possible, we have changed all of our lights to LEDs (even the fluoros), we don’t watch TV (there isn’t much worth watching anyway, and until last year, we hadn’t even bothered to get an antenna on our house, but then we worked out that it would be cheaper than going to the pub to watch the Bledisloe games – got to have priorities!) so it’s usually turned off (properly off, not standby), likewise the microwave only gets used in winter for wheat bags and hot chocolate/chai, so it’s turned off at the wall most of the time too, and a lot of other appliances have been switched over to off-peak (eg washing machine and dryer).
It does help, of course, to have an engineer for a husband, particularly one that’s passionate about renewable energies, and a Mum-in-law who is an energy efficiency educator … but there really is nothing here that you can’t also do. The key is knowing where your electricity is being used, prioritising and researching ways to reduce usage, particularly during peak times.
All of these are lifestyle choices, and simply being aware of the consequences of your actions – something anyone can do with a little knowledge, so research, research, research, and give it a go! You’re sure to see a difference! :)