Monday, July 11, 2011

How To Reduce Electricity Costs

I've been struggling for years with high electric bills.  I have a 3,000 square foot home with 6 bedrooms.  Yes - that's somewhere between 5 and 7 people in the house at all times, with up to 7 different televisions running, computers running, etc.  This year I decided to really take a look at what is eating up the electricity in my home and do something about it.

While I haven't saved 90% on my energy bill, and don't expect to, I have saved a great amount of money this year along with just a few small changes.

1)  Turn off the lights!  Ya I know - sounds easy and we all know this one.  Reality - we leave lights on all the time.  In my house the kids were not in the habit of turning out a light when leaving a room - I'd go around at night and turn off all the lights, leaving a "night light" on for them (which was really a hall light with a 15 watt bulb in it).  We've made a conscious effort to turn out lights when we leave rooms, and to not turn them on just because we walk in a room, but to turn them on when we really need them.

2)  Unplug chargers when you're not charging.  A charger plugged into a wall, with no appliance on the other end charging, still draws electricity.  While it is a small amount, if you add up all the chargers around your house it adds up quickly.  I had 7 phone chargers, 3 laptop chargers, and 2 ipod chargers plugged in the day I first went checking - all with nothing attached to them.

3)  Use power strips to turn off power to televisions, stereo equipment, computers, etc. when they're not in use.  Even though they're off, the standby power consumption can be equivilent to a 75 - 100 watt light bulb running continuously.

4)  Watch that thermostat!  I installed a programmable thermostat that regulates the temperature in my home.  It's set to 70 during hours that we're home in the winter, and 66 during hours we're away or asleep.  During the summer it's set to 75 for hours we're home, and 78 for hours we're away.

5)  Got a waterbed?  Keep it covered!  Keeping a cover on your waterbed will keep the heat from escaping into the room, leading to less time the heater needs to run.  This was a costly mistake for me - I purchased a waterbed for my 20 year old who never makes a bed.  Needless to say the very next month the electric bill showed a noticeable climb.  After that he learned quickly to make his bed when he's not in it.

6)  Use shades and blinds.  In the winter open them during the day to let the sunlight naturally warm the house.  In the summer close them during the day to avoid raising the temperature.

7)  Check the seal on your refrigerator/freezer.  Make sure it's sealing tight and not leaking cold air out of the appliance. 

8)  Wash only full loads in the dishwasher.

9)  Set the water temperature on your washer to cold.  I only change mine to hot when I'm washing whites - everything else is set to cold.  This avoids paying for running the washer, and the hot water heater.

10)  Set the hot water heater to 120 degrees.  This not only helps reduce energy costs, but will help reduce the risk of serious burns.

I'm saving well over $50 a month on electric charges now, and an additional $50 - $75 on gas charges.  That's a huge savings over the course of a year that was literally "money out the window" previously!

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