Energy Efficiency

Cutting Electricity Costs in Your Home

We've all been hit in the pocket by rising electricity costs, at work and at home. The price of electricity is beyond our control, but it's within our power to curb the amount of energy we consume. By following our power saving tips, you'll be helping to reduce the impact on our fragile natural environment and preserve our planet's resources.
First off, if you're not using Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs), you should be. Compact fluorescent lamps use only about a third as much electricity as standard incandescents. According to some experts, if you substitute compact fluorescent bulbs for a quarter of the incandescents used in high-use areas, you can cut the amount of electricity you use on lighting by half. I have CFLs in every fixture in my house, except for the fridge, oven, microwave and two fluorescent tube fixtures that are built in.

Use task lighting instead of area lighting. If you're doing something at a fixed location, such as your desk or workbench, you don't need to have the entire room brightly lit. Use an LED task light, one of the excellent units, or some similar small fixture to put light only where you need it. A 25 or 40 watt CFL can provide ambient light in the room, and you'll reap the savings.

Use appliances that are efficient and no larger than needed to do the job. For many cooking tasks, a microwave oven will do what you want to do and save a lot of energy doing it. If all you're doing is heating up some fish sticks, don't heat the huge oven in your range, just use the toaster oven. Save heating that big space for something that won't fit in the toaster oven. It saves money to make two and freeze one for later. You can save even more money by not preheating your oven, just let the food bake a little longer.

You'll use a lot less energy in the winter if you put a programmable thermostat on your heater and let the temperature in the house drop quite a bit at night. In winter, set the thermostat to 21 degrees C when you are awake and 17 degrees C when you are asleep. In summer, set the thermostat to 26 degrees C and use a ceiling fan to cool your place. When the temperature outside falls to at least two degrees lower than the temperature inside, you should "vent" your home - that is, open your windows to let cool air in.

You might give some thought to a " solar clothes dryer" like Grandma used to do - using indoor or outdoor clotheslines to dry your clothes. It's low maintenance, no moving parts and the sheets flapping in the breeze give the puppy something to play with. It's not for everybody, but if you don't mind going back a few years, the initial cost is lower and the energy use much less than an electric or gas dryer. Doesn't work well on rainy days though. Not using an electric clothes dryer can save $50 per year. One last thing you must do to save money on your electric bill is to eliminate phantom loads. What, you ask, is a phantom load? A phantom load is any device that is consuming energy when you think you've turned it off. It all started with "instant on" televisions back in the vacuum tube days. When you "turned off" the TV, the tube filaments still had power applied to them, and were costing you money. When you turned the TV "on", you were only turning on the high voltage and the warm tubes went to work instantly.

It's even worse today. Anything that has a remote control is a phantom load. Think about it. There has to be a circuit inside there waiting to get the wake-up call from the remote control. The clocks on VCRs, ranges, microwaves and other gadgets are all phantom loads. And they are costing you money. The way to cure phantom loads is to put the devices on a switched outlet or a power strip. Or simply unplug them. Unplug your toaster, coffee maker, hair dyer, some televisions, and power strips. It is good to note that some appliances have memory stored in the IC chips within the units. If you do unplug these units you may loose stored information. One of the really nice aspects of energy conservation is that you get to choose how much you want to save. It's up to you which, if any, phantom load devices you leave connected when you're not using them. Just balance convenience against cost savings.

You now possess the knowledge to cut your monthly electric bill. It is difficult to say how much you can save by making these ten simple changes, but here is an example: A friend of mine, living in an apartment at the time, followed these same recommendations and saw a 30% reduction in his bill the first full month. It can be done. And you can do it. There are many reasons to lower your electricity consumption: saving money now, preparing for future rate hikes, helping to improve air quality and limit global warming, or just reducing waste. With increases in the price of electricity and gas bills, these methods help you try and get cheaper bills and save on costs.


- Sabrina Chen

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"i agree, buy a thicker duvet!"


"17 degrees at night? How abvout turning the heating OFF at night? Save the planet!"