Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Motown Sound — of screaming wallets

WB has been electrically shocked to discover two things in a recent Forbes article about the most expensive American cities to live in. First was the mention of Detroit, where houses sell for $100 — surely that doesn't count as "expensive" cost of living? Second was the explanation:

"[The] Motor City grabs a spot on our list in large part because of the high cost of utilities. Residents pay, on average, $243.56 per month for electricity."

Um... what? Even in winter when days are short and nights are endless, WB's Motown-area total utility bill is about $150 — and that includes natural gas for heat! The electric charge hovers around $80 a month year-round. So, what the hell are those Detroiters doing to get slammed with bills four times larger?

Please understand, you can't run a pop-culture and general rant blog without having lots of computers, TVs, and radios running. And you can't write without drinking plenty of fluids from three refrigerators. And you can't see the controls on the remotes without having a lot of lights on. But —

— you can be smart about all of those. You can stuff the walls and attic and basement rafters full of insulation so that the electric motor on the furnace rarely kicks on. You can check the labels on fridges and computers to make sure they're Energy Star rated. You can replace every lightbulb in the joint with CFLs and LEDs. And then you can plug every cluster of appliances into a power strip with its own on/off switch. Appliances not in use = power strip off.

And... well, that's about it, really. WB headquarters has only done the few things that President Obama started mentioning before he was President: winterize houses and change watt-sucking habits. We did it because we didn't want to pay $243.56 electric bills each month (even though we never came anywhere close to that number before all the changes).

Yep, the CFLs sometimes start out really dim and gradually warm up. Pretty quickly, it stops being a frustrating inconvenience and becomes a harmless quirk. Yep, LEDs cost more — but they're also bright more. Way more. And yeah, all of that insulation can be an itchy mess to install. But a quick shower will take care of that. Sure, it takes time to train yourself to shut off the power strip before walking away from the TV, DVD, Cable Box, Audio Receiver, Playstation, and Wii cabinet, but once trained, it's second nature.

And the net result is, based on the Forbes article, a net savings of $164 each month. Maybe all of the Fox-heads who mocked the President's "green" ideas, and the teabaggers who want government to stay out of their private lives and stop legislating stuff like light bulbs, have that kind of extra money to burn. Around here, we'd rather save it up and use it for something more memorable. But hey, we're just a couple of bumpkins with a blog.


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