And I welcome you to another episode of what I like to call “Keeping Up With The Hagopians…”
Okay, so September 1st, I decided to end my personal speculation over how much electricity my ultra-efficient dishwasher & ultra-efficient clothes dryer were costing me a month.  Sure, the steam coming off the dishwasher’s “Energy Saver” dry cycle gave me a daily facial (*Nice!*).  And okay, sure, the top of the dryer felt like it could cook an egg by the time the towels were done.  And alrighty, yes, I HAVE seen firsthand a number of times the electric meter spinning like a Russian skater on steroids.  But HEY, these are energy-efficient appliances we’re talkin’ about here. 

So, for the month of September, I decide to go cold turkey.  No dishwasher, no clothes dryer.  Only caveat – if the weather was rainy & crummy, I gave myself permission to use the clothes dryer.  Hit the basement workshop and found 50 feet of clothesline, which I found would wind itself well off the back step railing…thru the rings on the kids’ swingset…and back to the other side of the back step.  Et voila!  A frugal, easily-taken-down clothesline.  I then hit the Dollar Store to invest $4 in clothespins, a small rubber tub and a pair of rubber gloves.   I rediscover at the age of 41 that rubber gloves come in THREE sizes – who knew??…  and find that I have what is considered “medium” hands.  When 95% of your wardrobe is a size “large”, this is just the kind of ego-boost a girl loves to stumble upon…   $4 later, I bring my frugal items and medium hands home and plan my experiment.

Week One – Weather is nice, sunny, breezy & warm – bonus!  Two loads of wash fit nicely on the line.  Perfect.  If I get it outside by 7:30A or so, everything is dry well before the afternoon.  On the dishwasher side of the experiment, I quickly come across the realization that our family of four uses a HONKIN’ RIDICULOUS amount of dishes.  From a washing standpoint, we’re not talking about a whole lot of extra work here.  When we were using our well-maintained dishwasher, I used to practically wash dishes out before I put them in the dishwasher anyway.  Now it takes a minimal amount of extra effort to actually wash them with soap, rinse them, and use my ultra efficient dishwasher now solely as a drying rack.  
Extra time spent per day hanging wash on the line: 10 mins max
Extra time spent per day washing dishes: 15 mins max

Total time spent per day on this frugal experiment: 25 mins

Week Two: more good weather, tho I wouldn’t mind a day of freak thunderstorms at this point.   It’s hurricane season here on the East Coast, for crying out loud – where’s the rain??  Annoyingly, it’s obvious that handwashing the dishes are resulting in much clearer glasses, no grungy “thingies” on the dishes, and much shinier silverware. 

Week Three: things going great, AND BEST OF ALL, two days of rain – WOO HOO!  Christmas in September!  🙂  I throw items in the dryer for the first time in weeks, and I swear I could hear it snort awake as I push the ON button (“HUH!” WHA!” whuppa-whuppa-whuppa…).  I look out the laundry room window to see the meter waking up in a similar fashion… Man, that thing is zippin’. 

Week Four: In the home stretch, and – frighteningly – I’m finding it rather relaxing to hang wash on the line.   I’ll come back out in the afternoon to fold it up, and get much too smug at having put the sun to work for me, like I INVENTED the frickin’ clothesline or something.   In the kitchen, the dishes have never looked so good.   I’m looking at my glasses like a proud housewife in a dishsoap commercial circa 1973.  You know, the overly cute ones where the wife smiles smugly at her water glasses?  I actually had THAT smug smile on my face.  This is gettin’ scary. 

October 1st – I hereby parole myself for time served and good behavior!    Dishwashing/clothes hanging experiment is COMPLETE!  I run a dishwasher load thru that night to celebrate.  Everything comes out noticeably grungier than the handwashed jobs of weeks past.    Bleah.   It’s fun to use the dryer again tho, zero lint on the clothes!  Tho I notice my jeans are a-smidge-tougher-to-put *gasp*-on-than-when-I-used-*pant!*-the -clothesline…

October 7th – Moment of Truth!  The September Electric Bill comes in the mail!  Last year, September of 2008 we spent $190 on electric.  I’m CERTAIN this September’s bill will be close to that, but I just LOVE when an experiment comes successfully to a close!  I rip open the blue envelope from PPL like a long-awaited love letter, scan the amount, and actually FEEL my pupils dilate.  This month’s bill: $110.  We saved $80.  The bill is down 40%.   Frugal-geek math immediately kicks in – if we do this for a year, we save almost $1000.00.   That’s almost a mortgage payment!  I’m completely screwed.   Frugal geek math kicks into high gear when I think of what more we could have had in the bank if I started this five years ago.   Not cool. 

Like I said, a frugal experiment goes horribly…HORRRIBLEEE…WRONG!   And yes, as of October 18, we are back to the clothesline & handwashing dishes.  LOVING the SAVINGS, and AMAZED at how much these “efficient” appliances have been costing us all these years!    Final note: Come ON hurricane season!!  🙂 🙂 🙂