The Hidden Expense of Raising Kids That No Mom Blogs Tell You About

If you're not careful, the costs can add up in a BIG way.

2019 a wild year for me. Greg and I welcomed a new baby to our family! 

Baby Jack arrived July 22nd and we love him to bits. 


Exhausted but happy on the day of Jack's birth! 


But I’ll come clean in saying I was not one of those laid-back Moms who just go with the flow and learn as we go. We took classes on infant CPR, on baby first aid, even a hypnobirthing class! I wanted to know everything we could possibly know about birth and raising a baby before he arrived. 

And the internet delivered! It seemed like there were blogs, articles and books about how to prepare for practically everything we could imagine. 

  • How to strengthen your core muscles after birth? Covered. 
  • The best foods to introduce to baby when they’re ready for solids? Got it. 
  • How to manage the inevitable four-month sleep regression? We’re alllllll over it. 


But one thing we definitely did NOT read about in the baby blogs was the hike we would see on our energy bill in these first few months postpartum

As folks who work in the energy conservation business, Greg and I had a laugh when we realized that even we didn’t see that coming, but that these expenses probably add up for every new parent. And we want to help others be better prepared than we were! 

So I’ve rounded up a list of some of the ways that having a kid can add to your energy costs, and what you can do to battle the bill, with help from other parents here on the OhmConnect team!


1. Heating and cooling: Keeping our apartment a baby-friendly temperature isn’t cheap! 


Before Jack came along, Greg and I were pretty ‘frugal’ with our thermostat settings. (And by frugal I mean we regularly wear sweaters and hats in the winter months when the temperature drops and we play a game of “How hot can we handle?” before turning on the air conditioning in the summer.) Home heating and cooling accounts for around 43% of your annual energy bill and we try our best to keep that cost low! 

Jack is a summer baby and this summer was HOT, which meant we needed to think of new ways to keep our apartment cool, and eventually turn on that A/C. Here’s how we minimized that cost as much as we could:

  • Use a ceiling fan or other circulating fan. It can make you feel six or seven degrees cooler via the wind-chill effect: A fan doesn’t cool a room, it just makes it more comfortable to be in. Just remember to turn off the fan when no one’s enjoying it. Otherwise, you waste electricity, which defeats the purpose! 
  • Run your A/C more economically. Set your A/C as high as is comfortably possible and use a smart thermostat to increase temperature when you’re out, or asleep, could easily decrease your summer cooling bill by 10 percent. Remember: The smaller the difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures throughout the summer season, the less you’ll spend.
  • Avoid heat buildup during the day. Whenever the outdoor temperature exceeds the temperature inside your home, try to skip activities that generate a lot of heat, such as cooking on the stovetop and using the dishwasher or clothes dryer. Instead, try grilling outside, washing dishes by hand and letting them air-dry and hanging clothes on a clothesline. 
  • Close curtains, blinds and shades. Whatever your treatments, you’ll see significant savings if you work to prevent solar heat gain by keeping them drawn all day. When completely closed and lowered on a sunny window, highly reflective blinds can reduce heat gain by around 45 percent!


(Turns out, he’s not such a fan of the cooler temperatures we’ve been feeling lately either!) 


2. Skip unnecessary electronics if they’re not your jam 


Baby gift registries were a whole world that I hadn’t known the extent of before Jack came along - nor did I know the breadth of products marketed to new Moms and Dads that personally, we believe Jack can happily live without! We decided to spare our wallets and avoided the temptation to buy things like bottle warmers, electric baby swings, bum wipe warmer and diaper alarms (yes, these are all real things.) 

No shade coming from me though if these products are up your alley! There’s enough Mom-judgement out there already. If your baby gets a pre-warmed wipe with their diaper changes, please just don’t tell Jack what he’s missing! 

3. Put smart plugs on appliances that might pull phantom power 


“Right now my kids (sons, aged nine and 14) are all about sports and video games,” says OhmConnect CEO Cisco DeVries. “They either want to be playing baseball outside, watching baseball on TV, or playing a baseball video game.”

Lots of appliances and devices (like video game consoles!) are what could be called “vampire appliances”, meaning that even though it looks like they might be turned off, they are still sucking small amounts of “phantom power”, and adding unnecessary costs to your energy bill. 


Cisco and his kids get smart about their energy use with smart plugs.

 

By attaching these devices to a smart plug, Cisco and his family make sure they’re not paying for extra energy that they don’t actually want to use. “Until I connected my entertainment center to a smart plug, I didn’t realize just how much power the system was using even when it wasn’t on.”

(Not sure what a smart plug is? It’s any type of wifi-enabled, plug-in electrical socket that allows you to control the devices attached to it from your phone or through an automated set of rules like turning off your smartplugs automatically so you can get paid for your energy savings when an #OhmHour is happening.)

Intrigued? Check out our blog on the smartest place to put your smart plugs. 


4. Get the kids involved in #OhmHours and get paid for your home’s excess energy  


Not yet an OhmConnect customer? There’s no better time than now to get your family signed up for the free service that actually pays you to save energy.

#OhmHours are energy saving events, usually an hour in length, in which OhmConnect has committed to the grid that our users (you!) will save energy.


It goes a little something like this:

  • Receive a notification via SMS text or email, whichever you’d prefer.
  • Turn off your lights, give your thermostat a breather, or even flip that circuit breaker for maximum earnings!
  • Get paid. You’ll receive an email within a few days of the #OhmHour to let you know if you were successful in beating your forecast and if so, points will be added to your account. Those points can be cashed out via Paypal.

“Whenever we get an #OhmHour, we take the time to go out for a walk and get ice cream,” explained OhmConnect Founder Matt Duesterberg. “Now, whenever we get a text message around dinner, my daughter perks up and asks - is #OhmHour here? Do we get to go get ice cream?”

Matt’s daughter Robin on her favorite #OhmHour outing - ice cream! 


Katie Overmonds

Katie is an award-winning journalist and digital strategist with more than 10 years of experience in print and digital media and a passion for the environment and fighting climate change.

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daughter piggyback riding on her mother's back
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