August 4, 2012

A Week Of Cloth Diapers: Have They Really Saved Us Any Money?

It's THE LAST DAY of Cloth Diaper Week hereabouts (everybody shout HOORAY!), complete with giveaways! (That's right, I used an exclamation point. Because there's more than one giveaway!)

If you'd rather gnaw off your own arm than read about cloth diapers, then today's your lucky day. To you long suffering folks, I present a chance to win ANY. BOOK. YOU. WANT. (as long as it's under $13) from our fine friends at The Book Depository (free worldwide shipping, which is how come I can pay for it). Um, entries are from my (new) favourite post of all time: The End Of The World In A Cheese Shop.

(And you can still enter Monday's giveaway! And Wednesday's! And today's! Even more joy! Many exclamation points! Send your friends! Tell your mother!)

* * *

Figuring out the theoretical cost of switching to cloth diapers when Oscar was a year old gave me a headache. A very bad one.

And here I am again, utility bills in hand, trying to work out whether we've saved money or not. It's making my eyeball hurt, truth be told, and I don't like it when my eyeball hurts. It makes me worry that parts of it will get lazy again, and I'm not into people drawing on my cornea with markers (anymore).

Let's talk about data, shall we? We started cloth diapering full time at the end of April 2011 (yes, right before I went back to work full time. Smart, I never claimed to be.) By the end of October 2011, three months pregnant and ready to die, I had had it with dragging bags of poop home from daycare, and switched back to disposables for weekdays and cloth for nights and weekends. It was April of this year by the time I had Lucy in cloth full-time (except for at night; both are in disposables then).

This means that trying to compare May-April 2010 to 2011 is like comparing vampires to zombies; impossible except on the purely subjective level.

May-June 2010 to 2011 to 2012, however, is a different story. For that period of time, we have this:

Electricity rates are hard to compare, since time-of-use billing came into effect sometime in the middle of all this hullaballoo. You can see from the chart I used the off-peak rate/kWh because when I dry diapers in the machine (eight months out of the year), it's after seven pm.

We've successfully shifted our electricity use to off-peak hours, so from what I can see we've decreased our costs. Somehow we've also decreased our water consumption. Super-people? Probably.

More numbers to consider: so far, in purchasing all the diapers, wipes, laundry detergent, etc (more than I needed, even though I thought I was being super-cheap), I've spent $385.87. If I had diapered Oscar and Lucy in disposables exclusively instead of switching to cloth, and using the numbers from my theoretical calculations, I would have spent $715. 

Hold on, though. On top of the $385.87 in cloth diapers and related accessories, I spent about $130 on disposable diapers and wipes for Oscar at daycare, and Lucy until I got her in cloth full time.

That means that we've saved about $199 in a year and a month of cloth diapers. If things continue on the way they have been, and since we've bought all the diapers, wipes, diaper sprayers, and covers we're going to, our only continued cost to diaper our children will be one disposable a night, more Rockin' Greem laundry soap (now that I've figured out my front-loader, that equates to about one bag every four months), AND THAT'S ALL.

Which means I'm done spending money on poop.

Unless you can read my raw utilities data and tell me what it means. My eyeball hurts too much.