Winnipeggers are well known for holding out for the best deals in town, for lining up at sales — basically, for being cheapskates.
Jeremy Bradley is a Winnipegger who has taken his cheapskate tendencies to an entreprenurial level. This past spring, he launched his book The Official Guide to Being a Winnipeg Cheapskate.
Since then, Wal-Mart has re-ordered the book three times, McNally Robinson has sold out three times, and Chapters continues to sell out of copies.
Bradley has written various versions of the book, with one geared towards Canadians in general and now his latest, The Official Guide to Being an American Cheapskate.
We wanted to know if Bradley had some tips for saving on our hydro bills this winter:
"I was able to bring my hydro bill down from $200 a month when I moved into my house close to six years ago to $98 a month," he said.
Here are his five tips:
1. Almost everything electrical in my home is unplugged as much as possible. By everything, I mean the two lamps in the living room: unused in five years; the microwave: plugged in once a week (if that) the odd time I use it; and everything in my office overnight and when I am not working taping my own syndicated radio shows or writing newspaper content — not a blink or a flash from any of the devices.
TVs are so bright that they fill a room with light. There is no need to have lamps on. Rarely do I microwave anything, so the only reason to have it plugged in is the time — but there are so many other clocks in the kitchen that I don’t use it to keep track of the day.
2. I put my furnace on a timer. With programmable thermostats, you set it for when you wake up, when you leave, when you come back and when you go to bed.
Most Manitobans like waking up in a warm home, so crank the furnace 20 minutes before you wake up. There is no sense in having it run all night. I also have it “hold” a temperature if it’s nice in the house. I might have it set to a certain temperature but if I’m not chilled, then I don’t have it run.
The dogs also play a part in the getting-ready-for-bed routine. When they go outside for one last bathroom break, I head down to the laundry room with the blankets to run them in the dryer for a few minutes and turn down the hot water tank (more about that in point 4). I head back upstairs, turn down the furnace, make sure everything is unplugged, spit out the last bit of toothpaste, fill up the hot water bottle (to put underneath my neck for extra warmth in bed), let the dogs in the house, go downstairs and retrieve the blankets and head upstairs for some sleep.
4. My hot water tank is almost as big as me. When I thought about how much water is heated in there, I realized that I could probably go a day or two without needing it to run. Thanks to the “vacation” setting on my new tank, I don’t turn off the tank completely, but I do turn it down. When I wake up in the morning (feeling like P Diddy — Top 40 song reference, never mind) my shower is hot enough to jumpstart my day.
I don’t use the water in the daytime, so there’s no need for it to rebound and start heating up again. When I know I will be washing dishes or needing hot water, I turn it up shortly before that time and I have just what I need.
5. Lights are a big thing. Like I already mentioned, I don’t have the lamps plugged in when in the living room. But I also have a few rooms in the house that have track lighting with numerous bulbs. It wasn’t until they started burning out that I realized I don’t need three lights on in the bathroom. Energy efficient or not, it seems a waste. Ditto for my office, in my kitchen and even in my bedroom.
Does my house look like a ghost town once the sun sets? It actually does. When my mom comes over to walk my dogs with me, she asks if I am going to leave any lights on. Why? Security? Phooey. If someone wants to break in, they’ll see the house alarm stickers on every window and the sensors that will trigger a siren that will have police there in seconds.
Author Jeremy Bradley will be signing copies of his book, The Official Guide to Being a Winnipeg Cheapskate, on Sunday, Nov. 17 at Chapters St. Vital from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
You can hear Bradley on CBC's Information Radio on Monday, Nov. 18, at 6:45 a.m.