Jun 14, 2007

Blowin' in the Wind

Nope - not a garage sale

I would love to sit here and crow about how we in the Brooks household are leaving a smaller carbon footprint and doing our share to save cute Arctic polar bears stranded on icebergs, but my real motivation in helping my wife string clotheslines is simply to chop the amount of money we are tossing to the utilities each month.

This is, after all, another summer of underemployment during the period of my extended graduate student vow of poverty (a phrase for which I claim creator's rights), and every dollar we do not send to the likes of FirstEnergy and Columbia Gas is a dollar for which I will not have to sell plasma.

The fresh-smelling clothes, though, are the added bonus, as anyone who has ever dried clothing outdoors knows. While my shirts will not have that trademark Bounce scent, they will now possess particles of smog, auto exhaust, and dust from my neighbor's home renovations, just as the Lord intended.

And - just for the curious - we have still maintained our domestic ban on air conditioning, which we believe will save $500 over the course of the summer. Of course, the kids are whining, and last night I slept on a sweat-drenched pillow, but we are that much closer to a sub-$100 electric bill for June, surely a rare feat in Northwest Ohio.

Thus, it is off to spend a few hours in front of a roaring fan to finish some reading, and then my efforts to squeeze some sleep out of a muggy night.

If nothing else, I'm building some character...


Anonymous said...

94 degrees in San Antonio today; kwitcherbitchin!


LTLOP said...

Mike, I hate to brag but our 'lectric bill averages @ $45/mo, and this is with several air-circulating style fans going (no a/c whatsoever). Like I said before by drying the clothes on the line our gas bill avgs @ $35 for the summer BUT you may want to reconsider the budget plan since the low rates will skew the numbers and you may get a large catch-up bill of some sort. Our bedroom is in the dormer of the house and it is hotter than dogsnot in july, but with two air-circulating fans it has become faily bearable.

Man with the Muck-rake said...

Imagine that, a family with a social conscience.

How refreshingly rare.

historymike said...


Tsk, tsk. Y'all have that dry heat, I hear.

historymike said...


Feel free to brag away. In the past we have seen monthly electric bills hit almost $300. I am glad to be experimenting with methods to save more money.

What is interesting, though, is that - even though my income is reduced while in grad school - we actually have more money in the bank and less debt than we have at any point in our lives.

We had a few years in the 1990s when we made in the high five figures, but had little to show for it.

Now we pull in something considerably less than that, but our efforts to economize have borne investment fruits.

historymike said...

Thanks for the compliment, Man with the Muck-rake. I hope to be able to live up to your estimation!

Anonymous said...
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Martin said...

I don't even have a clothes dryer, and I use solar heated water.

Lisa Renee said...

My first summer without air conditioning was the worst, this year hasn't been that bad yet.

I dry clothes outside too, except for jeans and towels, while they take longer to dry in the dryer, they do come out softer in the dryer and I like soft towels.

However, on a hot breezy day, light cottons and other types of clothing, including sheets dry almost faster than using the traditional dryer.

historymike said...

Sorry, peralazic: da spam's gotta go.

historymike said...


I would like to go solar someday. It would be sweet justice to sell power back to Toledo Edison / FirstEnergy after getting shafted for nearly 20 years.

historymike said...

Lisa Renee:

There have only been 2 or 3 nights so far that have been uncomfortable, but we are supposed to be in the 90s the next few days.

I was also surprised how quickly clothes dry, especially in the full sun and with some breeze.

I don't know the exact figures, but this site says a load of laundry ina an electric dryer costs 30-40 cents compared to 15-20 cents in a gas dryer.

We probably average 4 loads a day, so that's about $30 a month.

Mad Jack said...

From Lisa Renee: My first summer without air conditioning

Your first summer... think about that for a second. This implies many previous summers spent indoors with air conditioning.

I didn't have air conditioning until I moved away from home and several years had passed. I didn't have a swimming pool when I was growing up, either. What I had was outdoor work all summer long, in all kinds of weather. That includes the August dog days when I worked in the sun.

Your first summer without air conditioning was, what, difficult? Unpleasant? Perhaps a little too warm to keep delicate you in complete comfort?

You know, Lisa Renee, I always suspected that I didn't come from the same world you do. In fact, I don't think you've ever done more than look across the street at my world. You and your first summer without air conditioning. Oh, my, times is hard, yes, times is hard.

We always dried our clothes outside on the clothes line. But then, we didn’t have a condominium association or some stupid city law to prohibit this. If you dry your clothes outside, not only do you save money on your utilities, but your clothes smell fresh and you save wear and tear on the dryer. Of course, when we did this our property values fell. We didn’t know that, though, so I guess it didn’t matter much.

My compliments and support to Mike for doing without, which isn’t easy but it can be done. Hang in there.

Hooda Thunkit said...

Well we have air conditioning and we use it, mainly to dry the air by setting the thermostat to, typically 78 or 79 degrees.

On warmer but drier days we use the whole house fan, which only gets set on low; otherwise it's like a hurricane ;-)

On so-so days in the Spring, the furnace fan and the electro-static air cleaner gives much relief from the pollen.

Yeah, I grew up without air and only had it in our bedroom in our first house for ~3 years, before I installed a whole house unit/kit.

These days though the heat is easier to deal with since I've lost some weight ;-)

What we really need though is an audible electric meter, to temper our desire for excessive comfort.