Prepping, homesteading and living the simple, green, independent life.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Energy Tips That My Wife Hates

A common experience that I hear from preppers is that it’s hard to get their spouse on-board with the prepper lifestyle.

I’m more fortunate than others in this regard, however in my quest to pinch pennies there are still some things that are taboo (though sometimes I do them anyway; it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission).

My advice to people who are dealing with this issue is to not force your opinions too hard and try to reach a compromise. For example, if your spouse hates compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), find out why. If it’s because they still believe that CFLs all give off a bluish-green bright light, promise them that you’ll only buy CFLs that have “warm” light comparable to regular bulbs.

Offer a compromise where you’ll only install one CFL to give it a try. I bet your spouse won’t notice a difference and after a few months try switching more lights to CFLs. It worked for me!

Secondly, explain to your spouse your motivation behind these prepper steps you’re taking to show that you’re not doing it just to be “cheap”. For example, explain that the money you’ll save will help pay off debts faster so that the family can move into your dream home even sooner.

Here are a few things in my house that we’re still “working on”:


I’ve been waiting anxiously for LED light-bulb technology to reach the mainstream for years now. Unfortunately they still don’t seem to be quite there yet and until such time I’m afraid my wife just won’t go for them.

Last fall I was really excited when I found out that Walmart began carrying LED bulbs so I went out and got one as soon as I could. I picked a 3 watt bulb which claimed to replace a 40 wall incandescent bulb - amazing! I couldn’t wait to switch over all my lights and watch my electricity bill take a nose dive.

The light the LED gave off however was a harsh blue. It was similar to the light that cheap toy flashlights throw.

Secondly, there was no way that the LED could match the light of a 40 watt incandescent; at best it could replace a 20 watt, maybe even only a 10.

That being said however, I can see some use to these bulbs in certain situations. For example if during a black out you only have a small generator or one of those portable batter power packs these LEDs light your house with minimal energy draw. They could really help off-griders too.

If it were just up to me I’d install some LEDs in lights that we don’t use very often but right now my wife just isn’t sold on LEDs and I somewhat agree with her.

Bathtub Heat Recovery

In the winter while taking a shower I leave the plug in the bathtub to collect the hot water. I let the water cool off in the tub which warms and humidifies the bathroom while I get ready for work on those cold mornings.

This really annoys my wife for some reason which I suspect is because she has to reach into the cold, dirty water when I often forget to unplug the tub after it’s cooled off.

I’d recommend you try this because I’m always surprised at what a good job it does warming the room. Plus you don’t get that rush of cold air into the shower when you turn on the hot water.

If you’ve got as much body hair as I do though, for your spouse’s sake, please remember to unplug when done.

Preventing Phantom Draw with Powerbars

Phantom power really annoys me.

Every electronic device that has an unnecessary clock on it drives me up the wall. I’ve seen living rooms with 7 different time displays from various devices each drawing power and most not even showing the correct time!

Not many people realize how much electricity the stuff in our home uses even when they’re supposedly turned off! TVs, microwaves, radios, DVD players they all use power when not turned on.

Furthermore, anything that has a power adapter plugged into the wall is drawing power even it if isn’t on. If you touch them they’re usually warm from the electricity it’s using even if the device isn’t connected to it.

With this in mind, I went around the house and unplugged everything we don’t use regularly such as the spare TV and the VCR that we hadn’t used in years. My wife was okay with that.

However, when I proposed using powerbars with switches to de-power the rest of our items that have phantom draw she wasn’t so supportive. These would have included our microwave and one big powerbar for our TV, DVD player, video game systems, satellite receiver and wireless modem.

The idea would have been to turn off everything with one powerbar switch when we went to bed or when we left for work.

I estimate that the TV alone is costing us about $150 a year in phantom draw!

My wife however is afraid that we’ll lose the settings on these devices which I’m not too sure will occur. Years ago after a blackout I recall reprogramming TVs and VCRs. However I think most modern devices have memory built in now to save the settings because I don’t recall having to reprogram anything during recent blackouts.

As a compromise I’m going to start unplugging “my things” when not in use like the video game systems and hopefully when she realizes that it’s not so bad, we can do the rest.

As for the microwave doesn’t make sense to me that it draws power 24/7 just so we can save a second or two when using it for maybe only 15 minutes or so a day. My idea would to plug it into a powerbar and turn it on/off the bar before or after we warm something.

To my wife however she doesn’t see the value in doing all this just to save a few cents a month from the microwave (and I kinda see her point).

This post reminds me though; since we got our Playstation 3 we use it to watch all our movies…that means I can unplug the DVD player; YES! You gotta savor the little victories when you can.


  1. This post is great...I loved it! I like that you mention little things that can be done to reduce energy costs. We're doing some of those little things (switched to all CFL bulbs, using our dryer only in the winter and hanging clothing in the summer to dry, etc.). We're not considering LEDs for the same reasons you mentioned just yet, though we have reduced some of our phantom power usage by unplugging devices at night when we don't need to use them. We also used to leave the modem on all night, even though our computers were off and there was no internet usage - what were we thinking? Hubby and I are pretty much on the same page as far as prepping goes, so thankfully we don't butt heads too much. Power usage though is touchy for both of us, as we want solutions that do the most good, while not removing too much of the level of convenience we're accustomed to.

    Found you through your link on the TSP forum. Keep up your blog &'s great! Vashti

  2. Thanks very much!

    I may make this an ongoing series so please keep checking back.

    Another bonus to unplugging the modem at night is that it's better for security reasons since you can't get your signal hacked.