We all want to reduce our power bills - now here is some great ways to actually have it happen!!
I have been working within the power business for about 5 years now. Before I started at my job, I was probably one of the biggest power wasters out there. If there was a light in my home that wasn't burnt out, it was on. I would do 5 small loads of laundry instead of 3 larger loads. The heat in my home, always was set at at least 75 degrees. I do live in Canada and our winters here aren't very nice, but that is still no excuse.
One of the best tests given to us when we first started our employment with the company, was to compete an energy audit of your home. Well, I was completely blown away. My home alone was wasting at least $1000.00 a year in power bills!!!
When I was growing up, the fact that you left the lights on all day in your house was not really an issue. Greenhouse gases and power efficiency was not even a point of discussion - honestly, no one even knew what either meant. Each month you would get your power bill and you would pay it not even thinking that if you just turned off the lights you weren't using you may save a few dollars each month.
We weren't doing it maliciously, we just weren't as educated on the subject as we are now. But now we have the chance to change our habits to make this world a better place for our many generations to come.
But, because of us not knowing these very simple terms only even 25 years ago, our world around us is now starting to fall apart. All of us as a whole, must now look at the way we use our power each and everyday and use the skills we have learned to pass down to our own children. In return, we can continue to have a planet that we can all enjoy.
The number one power wasters in our homes nowadays - Us! Another term you will hear every so often is 'Phantom Power'. This is a term that is used in the power industry to explain power that is leaked through power cords, power lines and to objects that are plugged in but not needing to be (the biggest ones, your cellphone charger and laptop charger). Below are some very simple ways to help put money in your pocket and in the process, save the planet that we all love.
One of the best ways I help people understand there own power usage in their home - I tell them to sit on their living room couch and observe for one hour. One hour is not a lot of time and when you tell them they could save 20 percent a year on their power bill just for sitting there for one hour, more people are willing to listen.
Turn Off The Lights
Now look to your right, then your left and pay close attention to the lights on in your house. When sitting on the couch, why is the kitchen light on? Or even why is the bathroom light on? The 'dust bunnies' can see just fine without the light on. What are the kids doing? Are they in their bedrooms? So then why is the playroom light on? I think you are starting to understand what I mean!
Now that you see how much you are wasting with light usage, start looking around for other things.
Home Theater Systems
This one is one of the more common items that people overlook. Sure the family turns off the television when they are done with it (I hope they do, if not, you found another culprit). When looking at the home theater system, is it still on? Now, think of all the things that are plugged into the home theater system - speakers, dvd players, amplifiers ... etc. Why send power to things that you aren't using right now? When turning off the television, train everyone in the house to also turn off the home theater unit.
I want to put this culprit into a different perspective. Think back 25 years, how many people did you know at that time that owned a home computer? I can tell you right now, you may only be able to say just one - if that!
Computers are one of the main reasons for the amount of power being used has increased - and has increased ten fold in the last 10 years. Sure they are doing so many different things with the technology to ensure each and every year they become more energy efficient. But, could you imagine how much power would be saved if all of us in the world turned off all our computers for even just one minute!
10 years ago it was common for most households to own one computer. Now, each family home has on average of 2 computers in their home. I think you are now understanding my point. But, without computers, I wouldn't be writing this article - and you wouldn't be reading it.
Now, back to my point. There is a reason our computers have different options to shut down. Hibernation, sleep mode(stand by) or to turn it off completely. I know, we have all got used to using the 'dandy' sleep mode. This allowing us to move our mouse and 'Presto!' no need to wait for it to load up. But think about it, that means the computer never is truly off. Which, in turn, is using power that you do not need to use and also burning out the whole computer unit quicker.
The hibernation mode uses less power than the sleep mode, but it is always best to actually shut it down. Most people are not home 24 hours a day, so why leave your computer on that long. When you go to work, turn it off. Then when you get home, start it up again. Really, it only takes a few minutes, and in the end, think about the added life expectancy you have added to your computer!
Most of us don't use our printers that often - and if you do, this information will also be beneficial to you.
Why is it on? Are you sending something to it right now to be printed? Think about it - when was the last time you turned it off? When was the last time you actually used it? If you are planning to use it in the next ten minutes leave it on, if not, turn it off. This is one of the worst ones out there for power waste.
Another over-looked computer accessory in your home. If you own a desktop, you own a monitor. When you turn off your computer(which I do hope you now do, instead of using the sleep mode), your monitor then goes into a sleep mode of its own, waiting for the computer to be turned back on. Just get into the habit of turning it off when you turn off your computer.
Being a Canadian, we all know what a block heater is. Most places in the United States would not even need one. A block heater is a little heater coil that is placed underneath your engine block to keep it warm, to avoid full engine freeze up in the winter. You plug your block heater into any outdoor power plug.
What many people don't realize, is you are not supposed to plug them in for any more than 4 hours. It shortens the life of the block heater and also takes a big dent in your wallet every winter on your power bill. On average, a block heater is rated at 1500 watts(1.5 Kilowatts/hour). This is what is used every hour to power one of them. Now think about the calculations
- 1.5kwh x 12 hours x 15days/month = 270kwh per month! Now multiply by what you are being charged for each kwh on your monthly bill. Ex: 270kwh x 0.06 = $16.20 per month!
Now, use the same equation to calculate it while only plugging it in for 4 hours per day, 15 days a month.
- 1.5kwh x 4 hours x 15 days = 90kwh 90kwh x 0.06= $5.40
This is where it is a good time to explain the value of a plug in timer. They cost on average $15.00 - $20.00 and you set the time you would like it to turn on and off. If you work at 9:00 in the morning, set it to turn on at 5:00 in the morning and you will save yourself $10.80/month if you use the calculations above. That is a lot of money each year - especially if you live in a colder climate like myself, where on average you will use the calculation for about 5 months of the year.
Sure we all love them. But we never consider how often we use them if we own one. Most people will use a hot tub at a temperature of 104 degrees, which is what most hot tub factory setting are. Now, let me ask you this - are you in yours 24 hours a day? I didn't think so.
Turn it down to 102 degrees when in use and even lower when not in use. Newer hot tubs use an average of 7kwh/day for a very good insulated hot tub. Older models and more poorly insulated models run at an average 12kwh/day. Using the above calculations for block heater usage, use to calculate your hot tub consumption in a month. Pretty scary!
One of the most important purchases for any hot tub owner is an insulated cover. This will trap the heat in more effectively and in turn, not turn on the heater as much. When not in use for longer periods of time, turn it off completely. When you know you are going to use it, turn it up approximately 2 hours prior to your 'dip'.
When speaking to a lot of our clients and even my friends, the first thing they say about the more efficient lighting now offered in the market place is how expensive it is. Yes, this is very true. In all honesty, you will not usually see the benefit of the savings within the first year. But the life expectancy of the more efficient bulbs, allows you to use them for up to 7 times longer for each bulb, adding to the savings.
LED lighting is now being made to use in the home. They are even more efficient then the fluorescent lighting that we are hearing so much about. LED lighting are currently being rated as having a 10 times longer life expectancy than the fluorescent lighting we are starting to get used to. What does this mean? LED lights can last up to 25 years with regular use! One thing that I do have to mention, the average cost of an LED bulb is approximately 30 - 50 US dollars each!
The technology is getting better with each passing day and soon enough we will all be able to afford the LED lighting in all of our fixtures in our home. Maybe if we consider purchasing only one for the fixture we use the most in our home, we can all start to benefit from the savings right away!
High Efficient Appliances
This is something that we can build up over time. Buying one at a time is easier on the funds and starts to help in the reduction of the power bills.
Start with the little things - like a new microwave. Of course, if it is something that you don't use very often, then not such a good place to start.
Washers and Dryers are always a good place to start, as it is something we all use and benefit from on a weekly basis. If you have to start with one, choose the dryer. The dryer is the most power user of the two, with having to use heat to dry your clothes, which is very costly to use.
If you own a dishwasher and are not able to afford a new one right away, Don't Use It! We all had to wash dishes by hand one time or another in life. If washed right after using them, it doesn't take as long in the end.
Purchasing one at a time will still help in the reduction of your power bills, just at a slower pace.
What Does This All Mean?
With all the examples I have provided above, we can all start saving money on our power bills each and every month. But, most importantly, we can all help with the conservation of our planet and reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted each and every year.
The amount of power that is produced will dissipate and the generation plants won't have to work so hard to deliver us all the wasted power that we have been requesting each and every day!
I know there are so many other ways of reducing your power bills, I just wanted to share some of the most common. Please provide any other energy efficient ideas you have, as we all have to work together to reduce our power consumption as a whole.