5 easy ways to reduce your electricity usage
Need 5 quick, inexpensive (or free) ways to save money on your electric bill this spring?
- Replace at least 40% of your commonly used lights with compact fluorescents.
- Always turn off the lights when you leave a room.
- Keep the refrigerator door closed and unplug that second fridge.
- Unplug appliances that aren’t used often.
- Watch computer usage carefully and reduce if necessary.
When wind power is NOT for you…
There is a real push online right now for renewable energy. In other words, clean energy that the do it yourself dreams of. The two types that are the most prevalent are wind and solar power. Both are clean, renewable and can really make a dent in your energy bills when done right.
That’s the key phrase – when done right. The problem is most people a) don’t know how to build effective and efficient systems, b) don’t understand the implications of their decision, and c) don’t know how much power they need to offset their energy bills.
Look, before you beat me over the head, let me just say this: It’s not your fault. The truth is you’ve been beat over the head quite a bit. The mainstream media and even more recently, the internet advertisers have just been relentless in pushing renewable and alternative energy on you.
Heck, even President Obama has made it a point, nay, a cornerstone of his administration.
Here’s the truth. Not everyone can have a wind generator, windmill, whatever you want to call it, in their yard. In fact, not every neighbourhood can have it.
There is a very simple reason – you need wind, a lot of it, to generate wind power that is useful to you.
Okay, you’re thinking. Big deal. I already knew that. But think of the implications here. Most windmills or wind generators require quite a few RPMs to generate 6-12 volts of power. Say 400 RPMs. For many generators that’s about a windspeed of 15 mph. So, to steadily charge battery banks at around 12 volts you need a 15-mph breeze.
Okay, so you have that. Next hurdle. Usually to catch this breeze, the blades on your generator need to be about 4 feet for a diameter of 8 feet. For safety reasons, your generator should be far enough above the ground, so the swooping blades won’t injure anyone. This usually means 10-15 feet above the ground, at least. The bonus of this is the higher you go; the more wind there usually is (less resistance from structures).
The downsize is durability. The higher the windmill is from the ground, the less stable it is. In other words, the strong your tower must be. The best way to overcome this is to mount it to a shed or garage and utilize the structure as your base. Unfortunately, this can be difficult. Remember, the wind generator should stand straight, and be able to withstand a strong wind. It does no good if it lays broken on the ground. And the higher up your go, the less stable the unit is.
Also, the blades must be built and remain perfectly in balance. In other words, they all must be uniform size and equal weight. If not, and you don’t correct it, the shaft of the generator will be ruined because the blades will not spin properly and weight the shaft downward. Once this happens, the generator is finished and must be replaced. Balancing the blades is difficult (but not impossible) and we’ll cover it in a future entry.
Overall, wind power is not suitable for those who live in tight areas, such as heavily urban areas – as there are numerous safety concerns (i.e. what happens if the tower falls). Also, urban areas tend to get less wind than rural areas (more structures block the wind). There might also be an issue with building such a structure (absent of building permits).
Where you can’t use CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Bulbs)
Once you use CFL’s – you’ll be hooked. They look almost the same as normal bulbs (if you get the right ones) and use 75% less energy.
They they have their limitations that you should be aware of. That said, there are some place you should never place CFL’s.
- Rooms that have high humidity where the fixtures aren’t enclosed or protected. Bathrooms are the best example of this, though some may be alright. CFL’s do not do well in these areas and can short out.
- With dimmers. CFL’s cannot be dimmed like typical incandescent bulbs. If you try to dim them, you will damage both the bulb and possibly your wiring. There are some CFL’s that can be dimmed, but they are much more expensive.
- In appliances, such as microwaves, ovens, refrigerators, etc.
What about in range hoods?
CFL’s should work fine in range hoods. They still exposed to more heat, but not enough to do damage to the bulb.
Where does your electric payment go?
In other words, what is the single biggest user of electricity in a typical home?
|Electric Water Heating||11.00%|
(Source: US Department of Energy)
As you can see, a typical sized single-family home uses more electricity to run a single refrigerator than any other single area.
We’ll be covering more about refrigerators and energy ramifications in a future post soon.
Put lights on sensors or timers
This is a lazy man’s dream. Having the lights turn on and off with no effort or action on your part to me is amazing, and perfect.
Place commonly used lights, like lamps in the living room, on simple timers. You can program them to turn on automatically at a certain time, and more importantly turn off at a designated time. There is no more forgetting to turn off the lights at night.
Plus, there is the added security bonus of giving the illusion that you are home when you may have stepped out.
Placing motion detectors attached to your lights both inside and outside are another positive tip, with added security features. When an object approaches outside, the motion detector will turn on the lights, flooding the area. When the motion stops, the lights turn off. Money isn’t wasted by having lights on all night long.
If you’re looking to put a motion detector indoors, a good place to start might be the path of night lights (as described previously) or in closets. I can’t tell you how many times I open my closet, turn on the light then forget to turn it off! It can be on for hours before I turn off all the lights and see I forgot to turn off the light in the closet!
To prevent this, install a simple motion detector. Anytime you open the closet the light will turn on. And after you close the door, the light will turn off. Simple and it doesn’t take any effort on your part to remember to turn the light on or off.
There’s no substitute for smart energy conservation
Whether you are planning to live “off the grid” and free yourself from energy bills or just “kick back” and enjoy lower energy bills, the first step is always to understand your home’s energy usage and employ good old fashioned energy conservation techniques.
The reason for this is simple – you cannot be charged for what you don’t use (in terms of energy…well this is strictly untrue if you are on a utility company’s budget payment system…but we’ll pretend for a moment that is not the case.) So, if you use less energy, your energy bill will go down.
Makes sense. So…how do you conserve energy?
It all starts with understanding your home, and more to the point, understand how you and your family use energy. Simple everyday activities, like turning off the lights when you leave a room really can add up to make a difference. Now that the holidays are here, not going overboard with the lighted decorations (and those inflatable, light up decorations) can help. Of course, if you do go overboard (like many of us tend to) just mind the usage. There is no need to run them every night. If you must, run them a couple of hours at the most. Every hour those machines are being run; energy is being used – sometimes in mass quantity. And since you pay per kw/hour, this could really add up.
Energy conservation doesn’t stop there, though. Only running the appliances such as the dishwasher and washing machine when full saves on both electricity and hot water. (Hot water is a double whammy – you incur a water cost, plus the cost to heat the water…and keep it heated.) And promptly removing clothes from the dryer avoids running the dryer again to remove the wrinkles from clothes that have sat too long. (Dryers can be another double whammy…the electricity to run the motor, plus the cost of energy to heat the unit.)
By intelligently regulating the heating and cooling of your house, you can also conserve energy and keep your bills low throughout the year. For example, lowering your thermostat to 68 degrees F when your home can save you as much as 5-10% during the cold season. And letting your thermostat go as high as in the mid 70’s during the warm summer months will save you on air conditioning costs.
You can realize even more savings by avoiding overuse of the heat as well. For example, at night, it isn’t necessary to keep the thermostat at 68. Try lowering it even more, and just doubling up on the blankets or cuddling up to your loved one to keep warm.
Keep in mind that all these tips might help you save money on energy…but when it comes to saving on your energy bills there aren’t any guarantees. Why? Because every single home is different. Every single situation is different, just as every family uses energy differently. A family of 5 will use energy much differently than a family of 2. This isn’t a bad thing at all – it is just a fact of life.
The Home Energy Audit Kit accounts for this and will let you see exactly where your energy dollar is going, and how much energy you might be wasting. In fact, 90% of homes are wasting energy right now. You can get a copy of the home energy audit kit right now and stop the energy loss of your home by going to http://www.energyaudits.net . You’ll also be happy to know that this is the first kit that is guaranteed to help you find energy problems with your home!
How much energy do typical appliances use?
Keep in mind that everything that gets plugged in uses energy. In fact, many use energies even when they are not “turned on”. For example, VCRs and many electronics such as TVs and cable boxes still use energy even though they are turned off. Additionally, computers in “power save” mode are still using power, albeit a lower amount
So how much electricity do common appliances use? Let’s find out:
- Ceiling fan: 60 watts
- Furnace fan: 400 watts
- Heat pump: 5000 watts
- Central AC: 6000 watts
- Window AC 1300 watts
- Fluorescent lamp: 20 watts
- Flood light: 150 watts
- Halogen Lamp: 300 watts
- Coffeemaker: 1200 watts
- Blender: 300 watts
- Crock Pot: 150 watts
- Mixer: 200 watts
- Tea Kettle: 1500 watts
- Heat lamp: 250 watts
- Iron: 1000 watts
- Toaster: 1000 watts
- Vacuum: 1100 watts
- Humidifier: 90 watts
- Electric Clothes Dryer: 6000 watts
- Dishwasher: 200 watts
- Computer:95 watts
- Computer tower: 250 watts
- DVD player: 25 watts
- Fax machine: 100 watts
- Garbage Disposal: 400 watts
- Electric blanket: 250 watts
- Flat screen tv: 150 watts
- Stereo: 300 watts
It is important to note that this is an average power consumption for the devices given. You should check your appliances directly – I can almost guarantee they will differ. For example, my computer monitor uses a little over 100 watts of power. Also, my small tv uses only 72 watts of power…
The next question…so what? Why do I care what each appliance uses in terms of power? Well…you are charged per kilowatt hour for hour. Meaning every hour, you use 1kw of energy, you are charged the full price. So, if electricity is 10 cents per kilowatt hour and the last hour you used let’s say 2 kw of power…your electricity charge for last hour is 20 cents. (I used nice round numbers on purpose to illustrate a point.)
When you see that the less you use, the less you pay, it only makes sense to cut back and conserve electricity.
Edinburgh Central Heating Services offer free estimates and range of skills. A 24-hour emergency plumbing service is also offered. For more information visit www.edinburghcentralheatingservice.com or telephone 0131 5102418