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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Shave a Few Euros off Your Electric Bill

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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Location: United States

After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Shave a Few Euros off Your Electric Bill

Living in Belgium has caused me to dread our next electric bill.  Electricity is EXPENSIVE in Europe....period.  It's not unusual to pay $200-500 a month for your gas/electric bill (and not even counting your other bills such as water, phone &  internet)...we don't even have air conditioners!  So, I dug through my stash of knowledge and discovered these non-traditional tips below.  No matter where you live....glance over the list for a moment, and see if you are tracking along.  Can you believe doing these things will put a big dent in your bill?


  • Don't Preheat: Roasting turkey is a long, slow process, so no preheating is needed. Except for breads or pastries, there's usually no need to preheat the oven! 

  • Don't open the oven door: Resist the temptation to peek. Instead, turn on the light and look through the oven window. Opening the door lowers the temperature by as much as 25 degrees, increasing cooking time and wasting energy. 

  • Use other appliances: Microwaves use about 50 percent less energy than conventional ovens. The microwave is more efficient for small items such as baking yams or steaming vegetables. I also use mine to melt chocolate instead of a double boiler on the stove.

  • Cook items together: Bake several items together if there is enough space for heat to circulate.  Of course I'll have trouble with this one, as my Belgian oven is SO small, I can't even fit a regular size cookie pan in there!!!

  • Cover pots and pans: Use lids while cooking to retain heat and cook faster. 

    • Fridge tips: Keep doors closed as much as possible. However, keeping the door open for a longer time while taking out items is more efficient than opening and closing it several times. Don't keep fridge too cold: 37F to 40F is recommended for the fridge and 5% for the freezer. Separate freezers should be kept at 0F.  Get a thermometer to stick in your refrigerator from your local PX.

    • In cold climates, use unheated garages to store items such as drinks and pies to keep them cool and to allow more room in your fridge!  It's too bad we don't have a garage, but our landlord did just agree to get us a storage shed for our bikes and yard tools (I'm excited about that apparently).

    •  Turn off lights when you leave a room.  This is the hardest thing for my kids, especially after living in government housing, where you are not paying for it!

    • For overseas, don't keep transformers on or plugged in unless you are actively using it.  Transformers draw an amazing amount of electricity, even when turned off and just plugged in.

    • What tips do you have to share for around the house?



      Blogger edith said...

      Thanks for the great tips! My family laughs at me because I'm crazed about turning stuff off. We (I) have a nightly ritual where everything but the refrigerator and microwave is unplugged. I unplug the computer, the entertainment center stuff and even the Belgacom box. Hubby has been rolling his eyes at me until we got a 21 euro reconciliation bill this month. We pay 61 euro a month otherwise. It can be done!

      October 24, 2010 at 11:18 AM  
      Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

      Okay, that should give me some incentive Edith! Our former Canadian tenants must've had a party every night in here, cause ours is over 5x that...I had calculated that we use about 90 euro of electricity a month (natural gas not included)...but we don't get reconciled til next summer...and I'm afraid to overadjust the amount where we may ending up paying not enough!

      I just can't bring myself to disconnect the internet (we do Skype at all hours...gave up on telling relatives' the time change)...and of course the movies and showsw record at all hours on the DVR with BTW, did you get AFN all hooked up and working right at your house? Guess we are paying for that privilege too!

      October 24, 2010 at 1:21 PM  

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