we've always been pretty blessed when it comes to our living expenses - we found an apartment when we were first married that fit perfectly into our budget and when we moved we found a bigger place for just a few bucks more each month. we're actually looking to move again and hope to get the same good deals we've been used to.
despite our low rent, we used to have exorbitant electric bills. we were spending way more on the light than was justifiable - we barely have anything that 'sucks' energy and yet, our bill got bigger and bigger. there are different rates for energy depending on where you live here in santiago, and i don't really know how it works - what i do know is that people swear that you cannot change your bill. it's all a scam, they say, and no matter what, you'll pay through the nose. (and don't even get me started on the ex-pats who swear they pay more just because they are not dominican - which might be true in most areas... but the electric bill? c'mon).
we decided as a family to challenge ourselves to be more conscience of the lights we use. it seems simple, but how often did the ceiling fan stay on all day long because i forgot to turn off the light? how many light bulbs burn away because i don't even notice they're on? do i wash half of a load of clothes instead of waiting for enough to fill the machine? simple things add up.
here's our first bill of the challenge - which we, unfairly i guess, started in december when no one was around. i needed to prove to some skeptics that the bill would go down by using less. the kids and i left first to the states and then amalio and his brother left for the campo after us - they unplugged everything except the refrigerator and we cut the bill almost in half!
our bill in december was $604 pesos (about $15USD) and the bill in january was $363 (about $9USD).
by being attentive to what we use, we've continued to maintain the "cut" in our bill for two months now - fans on at night, cell phone chargers unplugged when not in use (and the tv too).