Archive for August 21st, 2012

Energy Use of Household Appliances

Energy Use of Household AppliancesWe have shown a number of graphs on previous posts as well as this post about electrical use by household appliances. They all vary to some degree simply because the assumptions are different in every case. This is due to personal requirements, living styles, climate and rates that people pay for electricity.

What does not seem to change very much are the energy hogs. Or the culprits in terms  of which ones use more electricity than others. For example if you own a pool or spa, run your air conditioning a lot, chances are that these appliances will be the big spenders of electricity unless you do something to control them.

The major appliances are the next group were energy use by household appliances are high. Your fridge, washing machine, clothes dryer, freezer, electric ovens, and dishwasher are as a group the big set of offenders. They all have motors of some kind and they all run a lot. The amount of electricity they actually draw depends on many factors peculiar to your personal taste as well as the type of appliance and how energy efficient it is in the first place.

Ways to Reduce Energy Use of Household Appliances

For example we have a freezer which is a big energy hog, but we only run it for a month around Christmas time when there is lots of family coming over and we need to have food available. After the festivities we store some of the left overs in the freezer.  This step alone probably saves us $170 a year in electricity cost. While this may not seem like a lot of money to some people, when you add this savings along with other savings you get from upgrading your fridge for example to a more efficient model ($125), changing all of your lights to fluorescent ( $12 / light) and on and on. Pretty soon you have saved yourself over $500 a year in electrical charges which is significant.

There are also special items that not everyone has. We all have for the most part 4 major appliances and some have a 5th i.e. a dishwasher. But what about aquarium pumps, dehumidifiers and microwaves. These devices also use electricity and they can bring much enjoyment to the owners ( aquariums ) , however they come at a cost. An aquarium is estimated to cost around $40 per year to run the lights and the pump. There are many other devices which contribute to power use, however each person must make their own judgement regarding how far they want to go to save money and to save electricity or energy.

Lights – How do they Stack up Against Energy Use of Household Appliances

None of these graphs really focus on lights, yet our parents always told us to shut the lights off when we left a room. Each individual light does not use that much energy by itself, however there are two principles at work year. One is all about habits. That is forming the habit to turn things off when they are not being used. If you turn the lights off as part of a habit that you have formed chances are this will apply to other appliances as well. For example TV’s and computers for example.

The other principle here is that every little device, including lights use electricity. While they do not use much electricity by themselves, they do use a lot as a group when you add them all together. By focusing on this group and turning off all devices when they are not ins use will have the same effect as controlling or managing the use of a large appliance. If you are really motivated because you need to save money or just because you want to do your part to reduce your energy foot print this is another area to focus and reduce electrical use.

Adding lights, TV’s, home computers for example together can save you a hundred dollars or more, which makes it definitely worth while to reduce your costs. Every little bit counts and it is one of the big reasons we urge consumers to focus on the big items first, then take a look at the smaller items such as light bulbs and conserving energy. Over a year even these small items can make a big contribution to reducing our energy consumption.


Finishing Hardwood Floors

No one really wants to contemplate finishing hardwood floors, however there comes a time when your floor will have lost that shiny look and begins to exhibit the wear and tear from many scratches and other damage from long use. While an old hardwood floor that has lost it’s luster may seem charming to some, most consumers like to have a floor that is shiny and new looking. It may be time to refinish your floor.

A floor that has just been refinished also adds to the resale value of your home. If you are planning on selling your home in the near future, you might want to get an opinion from your real estate agent regarding the state of your floor and what your plans should be regarding finishing the hardwood floor. They will give you advice on whether it is worth making the investment in time and money to refinish the floor or leave it for the next owners to decide.

Finishing Hardwood Floors

Many people avoid doing their floors simply because they shudder at the vision of all the dust that is generated and the cleanup that is required afterword.  The wood dust is very fine and without taking any precautions, there is going to be dust in every room, every nook and cranny of your home. It will go everywhere and if you happen to a forced air furnace or air conditioning and it is running, the dust will absolutely coat everything. The clean up job is immense unless you move everything out of your home.

Fortunately there are steps you can take to reduce the dust and control were it goes inside your home. It is very important that you follow these steps if you are doing your own hardwood floor. Or even if you are having professionals do it for you. Always discuss with the professionals exactly what steps they will take to prevent dust from entering the rest of your home before you sign the contract.

In this post we are assuming that you are sanding the hardwood floor when it comes to finishing your hardwood floors. If your floor has been sanded previously, take a look at the thickness of your floor to make sure that there is sufficient wood left for another sanding. Each sanding removes wood from the floor and leaves it a little bit thinner every time. There are other approaches, however they are not being discussed in this post.

Procedures to Take to Reduce Dust Distribution Inside Your Home

The following procedures should be followed. Regardless of whether you are doing the work or hiring a professional to do the work:

  • Remove all furniture and accessories from the room
  • Seal off every doorway and vents that enter the room to be sanded
  • Use a high powered vacuum system attached to the sander
  • Locate the vacuum outside of your home
  • Turn off the central air system in your home
  • Make sure that the fan is shut off
  • Wipe down all walls and floor once sanding is finished
  • Always sand with the grain , never across the grain of the wood
  • Never use an orbital sander on hardwood floors
  • Hand sand all areas you cannot reach with a powered machine

Applying the Finish

Once all of the sanding and cleaning of the floors is completed you are now ready to apply the finish to the floor. Make sure you use a tack cloth to get all of the finer particles off the floor. Do this before you apply your finish to avoid thee particles marring your finish.  Follow the manufacturers instructions to obtain the look that you desire. Your floor will look fresh and new and add tremendous pleasure and value to your home.

If you decide to hire professionals to do this work for you, always interview them. Ask them to explain in detail exactly how they will complete the job for you. Pay particular attention to the dust  exhaust. Also the cleaning part of the job as well as the final finish of the floor. Otherwise you may end up being disappointed with the work. As well as the cleanup that you may have to do after everything is done.


LED Lights For Homes

LED Lights For HomesLED lights for homes have become very popular over the past few years, especially for Christmas lights, however recently they are finding their way into homes for lighting rooms and offices. We began with the traditional incandescent lights which consume electricity at a significant rate, to fluorescent lights which were a huge improvement and now we are moving to LED lights which save even more electricity.

So how much electricity do you save when installing a set of LED lights for your home?

LED Christmas Lights

An example using Christmas lights will serve to demonstrate just how much less these lights cost to operate. LED light consumption of electricity  is surprisingly low. For example, a string of 100 of the mid-size LED Christmas lights  uses only 8 watts of electricity, which is less than even a very dim compact fluorescent bulb uses.

The old outdoor incandescent Christmas bulbs are 5 or 7 watts per bulb and a  string of 50 incandescent Christmas lights  would use around 250 to 350 watts. A string of  200 incandescent bulbs would use about 1,000 to 1,400 watts  compared to 16 watts for two strings of 100 LED Christmas lights.

If you are planning to purchase lights for the Christmas season, now is the time to make your purchase of LED lights. They can reduce your consumption of electricity while at the same time adding lots of color to your home.

Calculate Your Usage

If you use your incandescent lights for 6 hours a day, for 1 month a year over the Christmas season (180 hours in total), you are using 180 kilowatt-hours (kWh) for these bulbs. The LED Christmas light consumption for the same number of bulbs for this time period, is a mere 8 watts (per 100 lights) x 2 strings of lights x 180 hours, or 2.8 kilowatt-hours.

Electrical costs varies a great deal across the US and Canada. A figure of 10-12 cents per kWh is not unusual , however in the evening with a time of day charging it can go as low as 7 cents per kilowatt-hour. That set of 200 incandescent bulbs will cost you $18 to $30 a year to operate for one month of the year. For the LED Christmas light consumption you’d be looking at only $0.28 to $.35 for the same number of bulbs.

Use LED Lights For Homes

Christmas lights are not the only lights that are taking advantage of the LED savings. New products are being introduced all of the time for inside your home for everyday use. We recently just purchased a desk LED lamp for a mere $10 that will not only save us money in terms of electricity usage, the LED’s will last for many years. The only negative with this particular lamp is that once the LED fails, we have to throw the entire lamp away. There is no replacement bulb in this example.

Help The Environment – LED Lights For Homes

Consumers are sometimes put off by the purchase cost of fluorescent bulbs or LED bulbs. Typically they will cost much more than incandescent bulbs, however the money you save in terms of operating cost will quickly pay for the original investment in the LED bulbs. An in addition you are helping the environment by reducing our carbon footprint as well. When we consume less electricity, we are burning less coal and oil that is needed to generate the electricity we use.

We used an example of Christmas lights to illustrate how much you can save when you convert from incandescent lights to LED lights. Using the same math, you can calculate the savings for home indoor lights as well. Most packaging on these lights also indicates how much electricity you are going to save when you use these lights. However one suggestion when you read the literature is that you will need to make adjustments to your assumptions. Base the changes on your own usage, the electrical rates in your area and the cost to purchase the bulb as well.

Once you do this you will quickly see just how much you can save on your electrical bill every year compared to using the old-style incandescent bulbs. If you have already converted to fluorescent bulbs, you are already saving on electricity. The payback will not be as quick when you convert from fluorescent to LED, however, there still is a significant saving.



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