Record Temperatures Call for Resourcefulness

This summer has brought record breaking temperatures to much of the country. That’s no exception for Texas where, in Houston alone, we have topped 100 degrees more than a few times this summer – a record that hasn’t been broken since 1980. Although we’re quite used to the heat, these higher than average temperatures have brought higher than average energy bills along with them. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and high electricity bills coupled with a down economy has many resorting to clever ways to save money.

That’s exactly what my mother-in-law did when she received an electric bill for more than $500 last month. First anger set in, and then came the ingenuity and resourcefulness her mother had used in the 1940’s when clothes dryers, television and dishwashers weren’t commonplace appliances. My mother-in-law challenged herself to discontinue the use of the clothes dryer and the dishwasher and unplug any unused appliances for the month of August, just to see how much it would reduce her bill.

She strung up a clothesline in the back yard and hand washed dishes every night. She unplugged other appliances immediately after using it. We’ll see if her efforts pay off at the end of the month when she receives the electric bill.
Times are tough, and most can’t afford to upgrade appliances to newer, energy efficient models. My mother-in-law’s efforts aren’t new fangled ideas, by any means. However, her actions speak to a timeless question – is it time to revert back to the ideas of generations past where people were thrifty, where you didn’t spend more than you made and you made do with what you had?

Makes you think twice about putting that load of laundry in the dryer, doesn’t it?

Update as of August 25:
As a follow-up, my MIL’s experiment worked. Her electric bill went from a whopping $550 to a more reasonable $350. What actions have you taken to reduce your bills? Did it work?


Courtney Velek is a former marketing manager at MMI.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.