Exploit the sun, wind, and the geographical location of your home to your maximum advantage. Let the sun light your rooms and the gentle breeze cool the air inside the home. Open the doors and windows in the summer and draw back the drapes and blinds in the winter to let the daylight in. Will you need artificial lighting and ventilation during daytime if you live close to the nature?
If you are unable to bring in raw nature into your home due to crowded living conditions, the next best thing you can do is to invest in appliances that efficiently tap renewable energy resources like sun, wind, biomass, micro-hydropower etc. Keep it in mind the next time you go for any electric appliance at home, most of them are available in solar version. Solar appliances are available at subsidized rates, only you have to do some research on how to get the best out of it. Hey, how about the traditional windmills if you live in the country side?
Switch off anything that you’re not using viz., light, fan, TV, music player, computer, printer, air conditioner, room heater, water heater etc., when leaving a room. All of them suck your wallet invisibly. I mean to completely turn off the power strip or unplug the TV, computer, and DVD and not to let it remain in the standby mode. We all have a tendency to leave them on standby mode being impatient to wait a couple of minutes that they will take to be operational again. Choose the most frugal power plan for your computer. Switch off exhaust fans 20 minutes after you are done with cooking or bathing.
The next time you want to buy a new appliance or replace an existing one, choose Energy Star appliances. Energy Star is the widely adopted international standard for energy efficient consumer products.
Replace the regular light bulbs (incandescent lamps) with CFLs and LEDs because they consume much less energy and last longer. Two birds in one shot, you save on electric bills as well as buying bulbs. If at all the situation warrants the use of a regular bulb, choose the bulb with the right wattage and/or use a light dimmer. With a dimmer you can dim the lights when you don’t need much light and hence less power.
LCD, LED, and TFT computer monitors and TVs consume less power than the age old CRTs, an information to be kept in mind the next time you go for shopping a computer.
It takes a lot of energy to make water flow through the faucets at your home and to heat the water. Why do you need hot water to wash your clothes while it can be done with cold water? Do you know how much energy it sucks up to heat the water? Lower the thermostat of water heater to 120ºF, factory settings may be higher. Don’t waste water. Water is getting scarce too, be as frugal as you can. Toilet tanks nowadays have adjustments to contain less water and even small and large flushes. Work on them. Fix any water leaks then and there. Installing low-flow shower heads and faucet aerator screens could get you the vigor of the flow but with less water.
Allow the food to cool before you keep them in the refrigerator. When you take the food/vegetables out, allow them to return to room temperature before cooking. Keep the refrigerator away from heat sources like direct sunlight and other massive appliances. Keep it well ventilated and away from the wall. Take care to close the door as soon as you are finished up taking things in/out. Instead of overcrowding/under utilizing the refrigerator or deep freezer, keeping them 3/4th full should act as insulation, less air to be cooled, and hence less amount of time the refrigerator has to run to maintain the chill. Labeling the containers could help access them easily and closing the door soon. Once in a while, inspect the sealing gasket of the door for possible leaks and replace if found necessary. If you find layers of ice surrounding the deep freezer, defrost it. Set the thermostat to ideal cooling temperature, between 2°C and 5°C for the refrigerator and -18°C for the deep freezer. As mentioned earlier, choose an Energy Star refrigerator the next time you are going to buy one or replace your old one.
Try to be minimal on air conditioner usage. Use ceiling fans. A ceiling fan uses only one-tenth the electricity of an air conditioner. (Apart from wide open windows, I use two fans to sleep at night, one ceiling fan and another oscillating pedestal floor fan; still way below the electricity needed for air conditioning!) Ceiling fans with reversible settings can be used both in winter and summer to regulate your home’s temperature, generating a cool breeze in summer and circulating warm air in the winter.
Sealing the leaks should make an air conditioner work less. Make sure the leaks through the window and door gaps are arrested. If it is a central air conditioning system, if manual inspection can be done, make sure the air ducts are free of leaks. Avoid cooling the rooms that are not used. Preventing direct sun rays into the rooms with window films, drapes, shades, awning etc., will decrease the work load. Do not block the air vent, ensure free flow of air from the air conditioner. Program to the most comfortable temperature, for every degree rise in temperature you save 2%.
Regular maintenance will ensure improved efficiency. Owner’s guide should guide you promptly in this regard. Clean the air filter once a month; replace when necessary. Furthermore, the next time you go for shopping an air conditioner, buy the properly sized air conditioner and take care to install it on the best shaded part of your home rather than exposing it to sunlight.
With just a little application of mind, you can keep home warm on a budget in winter. Plug the leaks. Cover the attic entry to stop the warm air from escaping through the roof. Heat air rises and may get pulled through the attic entry. You may not be noticing a cold draft through the attic even though your expensive hot air may be escaping without getting noticed. Mind that attic needs ventilation but you need to seal the leaks between the heated space and the attic. Heat only the rooms that you live, why do you want to heat spaces that you are not using? Draw back the drapes and shades during the sunlight hours and close them at night. Use ceiling fan to circulate the heat. According to USDE, you can save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling by just turning your thermostat back 7°-10°F for 8 hours a day from where you would normally set. Why would you need to cool or heat an empty home while you’re away at work during the day? If you haven’t yet, invest in a programmable thermostat and program it to maintain comfortable temperatures when you’re home.
Almost every appliance nowadays has an attached timer, whether it is an air conditioner, washing machine, dish washer, or oven. Make it a habit to always use the programmable timer switches in the electrical appliances. Spending a few seconds to properly program the appliance to run for the optimal time should save you electricity and the most sought after thing, money!
Whether you operate empty or fully loaded, there isn’t going to be much difference in consumption of electricity by washing machines and dish washers. Hence, run washing machines, dish washers, or any appliance only when they can be operated to their full capacity. If not in a hurry, air dry clothes and dishes. However, I would say it is even better not to use them at all if you can do it by hand!
If windows and doors receive direct sunlight during the summer, use window shades and awnings to reduce or block the heat and sunlight. Installing tinted window film will also be a part relief. Drapes and shades on your windows should also help preserve the heat during winter.
If the locale you live has electric industry deregulated with multiple electricity providers, shop around for the low-cost electric provider. Switch to the more competitive provider if feasible.
Look at the past bills, assess your electric needs and choose the right plan fitting your budget. Service providers usually offer fixed-bill plans and time-of-use plans. Fixed-bill plans charge the same amount each month for a predefined period irrespective of electricity use where as time-of-use plans offer lower rates for electric consumption during off-peak hours. Do proper research and look for any hidden charges or usage limits and fix up on the appropriate plan suiting your needs. If your service provider is offering discounts at off-peak time of the day, capitalize it fully. Utilize that time for most of your electricity needs.
Hunt for government incentives in the Database of State-wise Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency and Federal incentives for the energy efficient and solar appliances that you may have already bought or if you intend to buy a new one. Never miss to claim the incentives if you qualify for one.
Going by the scientific fact, light shade for your interior walls will keep the rooms bright where as for exteriors it will repel the heat away. So use bright, light shades both interiors and exteriors the next time you paint your home.
Okay, up until now we have been seeing the ways to reduce electricity bills in an existing home. Now if you are in thoughts of building a new home of your own, what you can probably do is to think about building an energy efficient home, right from inception, materials to be used, building and living in it, until the point of demolition after useful life. Providing air columns in walls and roof will ensure less heat and cold inside. Doors in the south and north and windows on the east and west will ensure good lighting and ventilation. Plan your home to suit the geography of your locality.
Apart from all the electricity saving tips above, as a dutiful citizen, what is your contribution to preserve nature? Though this is a long-term vision, planting deciduous shade trees around your home can keep your home cooler in the summer, however, without blocking the sun in the winter. Apart from avoiding green house gas emissions with the measures above, you are going to compensate your own carbon footprint howsoever small it may be!
Let me hope this to be a comprehensive guide to save money by saving electricity. Though most of these electric bill savings tips may seem to be miniscule changes, together they can add up. Drop by drop makes an ocean!
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