Tag: Energy Consumption

How to Manage Energy Use

Manage Energy UseIf you have not already done so, it is about time that you change all of your lights to something better such as fluorescent or LED bulbs. While you are thinking about reducing energy, widen your scope and consider how to manage energy use as part of your everyday lifestyle. It is amazing just how much energy you can save and by extension reduce the overall cost of your energy use as well. Anytime you can save money and use it for something else it is a good thing in our books. Energy use falls into several categories and we can cover each of these in a bit more details.

Manage Energy Use – Electricity

just about everything is running on electricity these days, so if you make a conscious effort to reduce your electricity use by turning off lights, turning off appliances when not in use, turning up the thermostat in the summer time and down in the winter will make a huge difference in your electrical bill.

Manage Energy Use – Heating Fuel

We called it fuel since some people heat their homes with natural gas, others by electricity and some by oil or even wood and coal. Anytime you lower the thermostat means you are going to use less fuel to heat your home, less energy and reduce your heating bill. For those homes that forced air furnaces, while you are using less fuel, you are also using less electricity as well since the fan is not running for as long or as often.

Manage Energy Use – Water

Believe it or not, it takes energy to deliver water to your home. But that is not the real cost as far as consumers are concerned. Most cities charge for water based on how much you use and as a result when you upgrade to more efficient showers, toilets and water your lawn less you will be using less water and paying lower monthly bills for water.

Manage Energy Use – Your Car

There are multiple ways to use less gasoline. Avoiding jack rabbit starts and stops, combining errands, taking the bus, walking or biking and driving a fuel efficient car are among the ways of reducing your gasoline use and paying much less in total at the pump.


Reducing Energy Consumption

Many consumers do not correlate the energy they use with the money in their wallets. Over the next dozen years reducing energy consumption will become increasingly important. If if history can be relied on, the price of gasoline is going from $.26 a gallon, can you believe that!, Two over four dollars a gallon in the last 20 or 30 years. We can fully expect the cost of gasoline to continue to increase and that will drive everything higher including heating or homes, driving our cars, and even the price of our groceries that we purchase. They all take energy to produce and deliver to our homes and stores.

This will directly affect our wallets, so reducing energy consumption will definitely be a goal for governments, for cities, and for the individual over the next 10 to 15 years and even longer.

Reducing Energy Consumption – Where to Start

Many consumers wonder where they should start in terms of reducing energy consumption. It is pretty simple, just look at everything you do and ask yourself am I using energy that I’m paying for out of my wallet.

This includes eating the house, leaving lights on, heating water for showers and baths, and the use of gasoline to driver cards. How many times have you made special trips for an item that could have waited until the next day when you’re driving past that store anyway.

Start by turning the air conditioning temperature higher, the heating temperature lower, turning lights off when you’re not in a room, turning the TV and other electronic Items off when you’re not using them, and avoid using your car when you could walk or ride a bicycle.

Look for energy reducing devices, such as LED lights or fluorescent lights, energy-efficient appliances, better gas mileage cars and so on. Everything you do and everything you purchase should have the idea of reducing energy consumption in mind.

Reducing Energy Consumption – Dollars Can Add up

It is amazing how quickly the dollars can add up when you’re saving or reducing your energy consumption. For example if you can turn the temperature on your furnace down by a couple of degrees at night you probably will save two or three dollars a day in reduced energy usage. Over the winter, let’s assume four months, or 120 days, that is close to $400-$500 in savings depending on how much you decrease the temperature and how large home you have.

This is just the start in terms of reducing energy consumption and putting more dollars in your wallet. Apply the same approach to turning lights off, washing dishes with a fully loaded dishwasher, washing clothes with a fully loaded wash machine and dryer, reducing your trips by car, walking instead of riding in a car, and combining errands to allow you to make one trip instead of several.

Analyze your savings to figure out how much you’re actually saving by reducing energy consumption in your daily life and that of your family. You may be surprised.


How can we reduce energy consumption

reduce energy consumptionThere are many ways to reduce energy consumption which in turn reduces our overall cost and decreases the impact on our wallets. Some are very easy to implement, while others will take a bit of work and some will mean changes in life styles. We will list a number of these in this post and many people will be able to add others based on their lifestyle and their particular situation.

The real focus is to think of steps that consumers can take that reduces energy consumption without costing a great deal of money to make it happen. For example you may not want to spend a lot of money insulation your home when it will make little difference on the amount of energy you are using to heat your home. If you home is already well insulated then you may not save much by adding more insulation. On the other hand you may save a great deal if your home is not well insulated and a lot of heat is escaping through the walls and ceiling. Take these practical considerations into account before spending money to save money.

How can we reduce energy consumption

Reducing Energy Usage

  • Turn off the lights
  • Convert to fluorescent or LED lights
  • Turn down your thermostat in the winter
  • Turn up your thermostat in the summer
  • Add insulation to walls and attic
  • Increase your window insulation
  • Avoid peak time power usage when rates are charged at the highest levels
  • Shut off TV’s and other electronics when not in use
  • Unplug devices when not in use
  • Drive vehicles that use less gas and cost less to drive
  • Plan trips to combine errands
  • Use the microwave instead of the oven

These are just a sample of the types of things that consumers can do to conserve energy and reduce their overall cost to their wallets. Any money you can save this way will lead to other things that you can purchase or pay for including reducing loans and interest payments. As you reduce your costs and apply the savings to other areas such as loans and interest bearing debt, you will save even more money!


Reduce Energy Usage

Reduce Energy UsageWe just wrote a post about reducing electrical consumption at home which may be interesting to many people, but there is a lot more that consumers can do to reduce their overall energy usage. Expanding from electrical usage to include heating systems, our cars and even our offices, there is a lot more that we can do to reduce energy usage and put a lot more money back in our pocket. The picture on the left should also persuade you to reduce energy. There is a lot of pollution being produced at this plant. Check out our previous post about reducing electrical consumption or read on to learn more about some of the other things we can.

Reduce Energy Usage – Driving Cars

For example our cars use a great deal of gas and cost a great deal to manufacture. Every time you can decrease the use of your car, you can save some money and contribute to the greening of the planet. Walking to work, taking the bus or riding a bike to get to work makes such a difference when it comes to saving money instead of buying more gasoline.

But if you must use your car, make sure that it is always properly tuned up and the tires are fully pressurized to ensure that you obtain the best mileage per gallon that you can. You can reduce your gasoline usage by as much as 10% by keeping your car in top shape. In addition, avoiding jack rabbit starts and stops will save gasoline and allow your brakes to last longer. Even keeping your tires properly balanced will make a difference.

We all love to drive fast and beat the guy beside us. We routinely drive 10 or 20 miles per hour over the speed limit. You can save a lot of money and get better gas mileage by driving at the speed limit. Do your own test to see what a difference 10 or 20 miles / hour makes on your gas mileage.

Heating Our Homes to Reduce Energy

Just by setting the temperature a few degrees lower in the winter time and a few degrees higher in the summer time will reduce your overall energy foot print. Many people heat their homes with gas, oil or even propane. You can reduce your usage a great deal by simply setting the thermostat a bit lower and even shutting off rooms that do not need to be heated. Just make sure that there are no water pipes in these rooms that could freeze during a cold snap. You will save both electricity usage by not running your fan as often as well as the fuel used to heat your home.

The same applies to air conditioning in the summer. Although you will not reduce fuel, you will reduce your electrical energy usage by a significant amount if you set the temperature higher and close rooms that do not need to be cooled.

Reducing energy at Work

While you may not put money in your own pocket by reducing energy usage at work, you can certainly help to reduce the company’s energy usage and make them more profitable. In our books this is a good thing in most cases since it helps to protect our jobs.


How to Reduce Energy Consumption

Reduce Energy Consumption – Consumers are trying to reduce energy consumption more and more everyday. As prices for oil rise, there is a direct impact on all of our pocket books and it is much more motivating these days to reduce your consumption and put some of that money right back in our wallets. How can we do that ? Well the we believe the answer is to systematically look at everything that we do these days and evaluate how we can reduce the amount of energy we use and thus save money that can be used for other things.

The major areas were we all use energy includes our cars, our homes and where we work. We will discuss each of these in a little more detail to give our readers some ideas about how they can go about reducing their energy consumption and save money as well. When you put money back in your wallet it is a really good feeling and it can be used for other things. We read recently that 76% of Americans are living from paycheck to paycheck which is a very risky thing when you think about it. Any money that can be saved on your monthly costs can go to meet other cash requirements.

Reduce Energy Consumption – Car Energy Reduction

Almost everyone has a car these days and they have become so complex that the average person cannot begin to understand them, let alone work on them. The computer in the car looks after everything and runs the car as efficiently as possible given what it has to work with. And that is the point that we would like to make in this post.

Using the right kind of gasoline, making sure your tires are properly inflated and driving in a manner that conserves energy vs. driving erratically can save a great deal of gasoline and allow your car to deliver better mileage per gallon of gasoline. Jack rabbits starts and stops, driving well over the speed limit and driving with under inflated tires all takes a great deal of gasoline.

Try driving carefully for one gas tank full vs. the way you normally drive and see what the difference is. You probably will be able to go a lot further than when you drive normally.

Also consider taking the bus, car pooling or just walking or taking your bike. These all can save you a great deal of money as well and conserve energy at the same time.

Reduce Energy Consumption – Home Energy Reduction

We have discussed many different ways or reducing energy in your home on this blog. Improve your insulation, caulk windows and doors, make sure your insulation is at the proper level and turn down your thermostat in the winter and up in the summer to reduce energy consumption.

If you have not already upgraded to high efficiency furnace and water heater, it may be time to do so. There may also be subsidies and assistance to consumers in your area that will help pay for these upgrades. Old furnaces are only at 67% efficiency while new ones are at 95% or better!

Close blinds in the summer time to reduce the amount of sunshine heating up your home. Open blinds and take advantage of the sun in the winter to help heat your home.

Reduce Energy Consumption – Office Energy Reduction

We included this topic in the post because we can all do something to reduce the energy consumption at work as well as our travel to work. Car pooling to get to work, taking the bus to work all helps you in your own personal pocket book.

Improving energy use at work can also help with company budgets and not only make the company more profitable, but in doing so, make sure you have a job for a longer period of time in today’s market place. Cost of energy use must be paid for which means more product must be sold. Anything you can do to reduce costs in this area will mean less pressure on other areas and make life easier for all.


Reduction of Energy Consumption

Reduction of energy consumption! Where do I begin? How much will it really cost? How much work will it take? How much will I really save? Will it matter?

We are not picking on the nuclear industry by using this picture on the left. We just happened to like the questions that are listed on the picture when we repeated in the above paragraph to make sure that everyone could read the words. These questions are the central questions that many if not all people have who are the least bit concerned about our use of energy. These are also reasons that a lot of people use to persuade themselves not to even get started and try to save energy. This is really unfortunate since if we all banded together and saved even 10% of our energy consumption, we would make a huge impact on our energy use, our cost to use that energy and we would delay construction of many energy projects. The world would be a better place.

In this article we are going to focus on the individual. We are the only ones who have influence over what we do in terms of how we use energy. We cannot impact the large companies very much unless we all band together and make a difference. Instead let’s focus on our own wallet and discuss things we can do to save energy and reduce our overall cost. On the way we might persuade other people to do the same thing and we might have a small impact on corporations. Every dollar you save in terms of energy consumption is a dollar in your pocket and can be used for other purposes including going on a vacation.

Where do I begin? – Energy Consumption

This is the question a lot of people ask themselves. On this blog we have listed several posts about energy reduction and the steps that consumers can take to reduce their energy bills. Pick one and get started. It does not matter if it is reducing water use, turning down the thermostat in the winter, or turning up the thermostat in the summer, walking to work, etc. As long as you pick one and get started, have some success you will be encouraged to try more ideas.

How much will it really cost?

Sometimes there is a cost to reducing energy. Water reduction will not cost a lot and you will save money. Replacing incandescent lights with fluorescent lights will cost more than the same incandescent light, however you will reduce your electrical bill in the long run and repay for the light several times over. Evaluate every energy saving idea and make sure you can get a payback in a shorter time than the life span of the item you are buying.

How much work will it take?

Replacing a light is not much work. Reducing water consumption is not much work, nor is adjusting the thermostat. Walking to work takes more time and you get exercise which is good for us, so there is some work. Most things do not take a lot of effort and you save money at the same time. Go for it, there may be other benefits as well.

How much will I really save?

We have eliminated almost $500 a year in electrical usage by turning out lights, replacing incandescent lights, running the pool motor 4 or 5 hours a day instead of continuously and adjusting the thermostat especially for the air conditioning. Depending on your life style you may save a lot more energy costs as well. Start now. Wouldn’t you rather have $500 in your pocket than pay it to someone else?

Will it matter?

Most people just give up because they think it will not matter in the big scheme of things and they want to be comfortable. Setting the thermostat at a level that is comfortable for them is important and they feel that it will not matter. Well it will matter to you and your cash flow. Any time you can save money, it matters. If enough people follow this approach, it will make a difference and decrease our overall dependence on oil and other forms of polluting energy. If we purchase energy saving devices and energy generating devices, we will make even more of a difference. Every bit counts so let’s get started.


Energy Consumption Reduction

Energy Consumption ReductionThere are lots of companies that have a variety of products that are aimed at assisting consumers to achieve energy consumption reduction objectives. This particular one allows you to monitor the electricity used by a particular device that is plugged into it. You can observe how much energy is being used while the device that is plugged into is on. As well you can monitor how much energy is being used while that same device is turned off.

This may be a revelation to many people, but our appliances increasingly are using energy while they are turned off, so they can instantly turn on when we need them. In our society, at the present time, no one is willing to wait while a device warms up and begins to work as designed. Instant on is everywhere and unknowingly to many people continue to use a small amount of electricity. You can purchase one of these meters to monitor just how much is being used if you are really serious about energy consumption reduction.

Practical Guide to Energy Consumption Reduction for Consumers

The golden rule for reducing your energy consumption and reducing your energy cost is:

“if you are not using something, turn it off;  if you do not plan to use something for more than a day or two, unplug it; Take advantage to time of day energy rates; and be as frugal as possible about heating and cooling your home”

Following this basic set of principles will ensure that your energy use is kept to a minimum with our without one of these expensive energy monitors. Franky, although they are kind of neat to have and you can have specific information about your appliances, these devices are just not needed for the average consumer. Save your money and just turn off appliances and / or unplug them when they are not being used.

So many people get caught up on the complexities of dealing with controlling their energy use, rates, monitors, complicated thermostats etc etc. The simple rule we outlined above is all you really need to do to reduce your energy consumption and save money. It is really that simple. Once you develop the habit of turning things off, it will come as second nature.

Monitor Your Energy Bills

Always monitor your energy bills for heating and electricity. If you notice something changing, you may want to take some action to figure out why there is a change in energy use. In most cases a decrease is a great thing and very acceptable, however increases could be because of something abnormal that happened in your life or some one in your family forgot to unplug a heavy energy using device. But most things are small users, however when you apply a general rule of unplugging devices and appliances you will notice a difference in your energy consumption.

Check also against seasonal changes. For example if the winter was unusually cold you may notice that your electricity use is up and so is your heating fuel consumption. This is to be expected and you may want to consider what you can do to control your energy use in this case.  Same thing in the summer time when air conditioning is typically in use. Take advantage of varying energy rates by time of day if they are offered in your area.

Energy Use Not Just Linked to Our Homes

Another big consumer of energy are our cars of course. Taking the bus, doubling up from a passenger perspective and various other steps can reduce the amount of gasoline that we use. As gas prices increase, this is becoming more important all of the time. recently gas has increased by over 25%, which is significant if you drive to work every day. There are many ways to reduce gasoline consumption.  We included a short list as follows:

  • Tune up your car
  • Take the bus
  • Share commuting
  • Proper inflation in your tires
  • Drive at the speed limit
  • Walk if you can
  • Plan your trips for errands

These are just a few things you can do to reduce the energy consumption when using your car. There are many more which you can apply to your personal life.

 


Energy Use Data

Appliance Energy UseMost consumers do not look at their energy use data from month to month, however most utilities provide some information on the monthly bills that consumers would find useful. It only takes a minute to review your usage to see if there is something unusual going on.

The picture on the left shows the annual usage data for our own electrical energy usage data for the past year. It shows the usage for the past six months and the same month from the previous year. The number of days for each measurement are shown along with the kilowatts used in that period. Our utility also offers time of use metering, with peak times, mid peak and off peak usage measurements.  There is also a total number of kilowats used for the period.

Our time of use metering stopped working for some reason in May and although we have reported this to the utility, they have yet to send someone out to fix it. The rates for each period are quite different with the peak rates almost double of that for the off peak periods. The utility implemented this approach to encourage consumers to use energy during off peak periods in an effort to reduce their peak usage during times of high use. Drying clothes, running the oven and turning up the air conditioning during the peak periods can reduce the overall amount of energy that is used and reduce the energy bill received each month.

Energy Use Data – Energy Periods

On Peak – energy use is measured from 11 am until 5 pm on weekdays excluding holidays

Mid Peak – energy use is measured from 7 am until 11am and from 5pm until 7pm on weekdays excluding holidays

Off Peak – energy use is measured from 7pm until 7am every day and on weekends

Consumers are encouraged to run appliances during these off peak periods to conserve energy and save money. It has worked extremely well for many utilities and pushed high usage activity into lower usage hours.

Data You Can Use to Manage Your Energy Use

The data we have just reviewed is pretty typical of what is provided to consumers by some utilities. The companies that provide heating fuel also provide similar reports as well which can be used to help consumers monitor their energy use.

While it is excellent data, and consumers can use this information to monitor how they are doing, it does not help them save money unless they take action and implement energy use reduction techniques and then look for the results on these reports. For example, the following steps should be taken to reduce energy use:

  • Turn down your thermostat during heating season
  • Turn up your thermostat during cooling season
  • Run your clothes dryer after 7 pm
  • Use your microwave instead of the oven to cook and heat food
  • Cook food in the oven after 7 pm
  • Turn off lights and / or convert to LED’s to reduce energy
  • Run pool motors and spa motors for a few hours every day during off peak times
  • Turn off all unused electronics to further reduce energy

If you take these steps to reduce your energy use, you should be able to see the difference quickly when you look at your energy use data provided by your utility. Some utilities will also provide daily use charts, to help you monitor usage on a daily and hourly basis.

 Graphing Your Usage

Although most utilities will not provide a graph of your energy data, comparing year over year usage on a graph can be helpful to compare your savings and monitor time periods when you are using more energy such as during the summer time when the air conditioning is being used.

We have focused on the energy use data for consumers, however business’s can demand much more information due to the higher level of usage and bills. In fact large companies will even schedule shifts to take advantage of lower rates during the day or weekends.

This is useful information that can be used by all consumers and business owners to monitor the usage and their subsequent energy bills. Monitoring your energy use data is important to control expenses, since it is information that allows you to see what level of energy is being used and allows you to take steps to control how much is used. Take action now by examining your latest bill from your utility.


Energy Efficient Solutions

This post is about all of the energy efficient solutions that the average home owner might want to consider in an effort to reduce his or her total energy bill and make a contribution to reducing energy overall. This will save money too.  We are covering a lot of different topics, which are listed below. Most people are more motivated about saving money than they are about saving energy. By focusing on Energy Efficient Solutions, they can reduce their utility bills and have extra money to spend in other areas. Scroll down to your area of interest or read the entire post.

  • Automobiles
    • Driving Habits
    • Jack Rabbit Starts & Stops
    • High Speed
    • Tune Ups
    • Tire pressure
    • Plan Trips
    • Taking Public Transportation
    • Walking vs. Driving
  • Energy Use in the Home
    • Switch to LED Lighting
    • Electricity
    • Heating Fuel
    • Home Insulation
    • Sealing Windows and Doors
    • Setting the Thermostat
    • Going on Vacation
    • Turning the Lights Off
    • Turning down the Water Heater Temperature
    • Adding Insulation to the Hot Water Pipes
    • Upgrade the Furnace to High Efficiency
  • Outdoors
    • Solar Blankets for the Pool
    • Solar Heater for the Pool
    • Power Lawn Mowers vs. Push Lawn Mowers
    • Solar Lights

Energy Efficient Solutions – More Detail

Automobiles

Our cars and trucks are one of the largest energy consumers on the planet and our pocket book. Prices of gasoline and diesel fuel continue to go up, with gasoline recently reaching over $5 per gallon in California. We decided to include a large section just on cars that consumers can consider as a means of reducing their energy consumption in this area as part of the energy efficient solutions that we all should be striving for.

Driving Habits – play a large part in how much gasoline we actually use. Jack rabbit starts from stop signs and stop lights consume a huge amount of gasoline compared to gradual acceleration. Your car is designed for optimum energy efficiency at the speed limit. Any time you drive faster, the cost per mile or kilometer goes way up. Lots of one task trips, driving to work vs. walking or mass transit, lack of car pooling all contribute to poor overall energy efficiency. Maintenance of your car is another factor in the use of gasoline. Keeping your car at an optimum level of operation will also contribute to better gasoline mileage.

Jack Rabbit Starts & Stops – High speed acceleration literally burns gasoline at a huge rate, only to have to apply the brakes shortly after as you approach another stop sign, stop light or catch up to a car ahead of you. You wear down your brakes prematurely and there is more wear and tear on your tires. All of this hits your pocket book really hard. Brakes and tires are expensive to repair and the gasoline you use is becoming more expensive all of the time. Producing brakes and rubber tires uses a lot of energy as well so any time you delay the replacement of these components saves your pocket book at it increases your energy efficiency.

High Speed – Highway speed limits are designed for safety primarily. When it says 60 miles per hour or 100 kilometers per hour this is the speed that your car should be driven. It turns out that the optimum speed for maximum energy efficiency is near this speed as well. Anytime you drive faster than these speeds you are actually burning more gasoline or diesel fuel per mile than you would at lower speeds. In Texas and a number of other states, speed limits are set at 75 miles per hour and there is talk of increasing them even higher to 80 or 85 miles per hour. While the road can accommodate these speeds, your car’s engine is not designed for this speed in terms of fuel efficiency.  Try an experiment sometime and measure the gas usage at various speeds and it will become self evident.

Tune Ups – Fresh oil, new spark plugs or injectors, the right kind of gasoline, a clean air filter all contribute to better gas mileage. Although it can be expensive to take the car to the garage and have a tune up completed, your car will be running at its maximum fuel efficiency.

Tire pressure – Low tire pressure is not only unsafe since your car is less maneuverable at high speeds when the tires are low on pressure, they also will cause your car to use more fuel. The reason is that they have more surface area touching the road and there is more resistance. This drives the use of fuel higher and your costs up. Check your tires pressure on a regular basis even if you have one of these tire pressure monitor systems installed. Your tires can be down a few pounds without the monitoring system alerting you to a low pressure condition. Check all of your tires on a regular basis.

Plan Trips – How many trips do you make every day? Could you combine some of them so you actually take the car out less? Anyone making multiple trips in the same direction is using far more gas than they need to, plus short trips were the engine does not fully warm up to operating temperature is actually harder on your car than a longer drive. Plan your trips so that all of your errands are done at the same time and even delay errands until you have several to make better use of your car and conserve gasoline.

Taking Public Transportation – There are still far too many people driving their cars vs. using mass transit systems. While there is a cost to using mass transit, compared to using your car, the cost of gasoline, the wear and tear on your car and parking costs, mass transit is a bargain at almost any cost. Stop driving, take mass transit and you will be far more relaxed when you get to work. Read, work or sleep while you on the transit system. It will bring your blood pressure down for sure.

Walking vs. Driving – Both of my kids have cars, yet they both walk to work. Imagine the money they are saving, how much they help the environment and the exercise they are getting. This is just a win, win situation. Anytime you can walk instead of taking your car saves gasoline and you get fresh air and exercise.

Energy Efficient Solutions – Energy Use in the Home

Now we are turning to the home, which is another large part of our lives and a huge energy user. If we can cut the cost of energy by 20% in our homes by using energy efficient solutions we are making a huge contribution to our pocket book and the environment. We will discuss a number of areas that most consumer home owners can consider and impact the cash they spend every day around their home from an energy perspective.

Switch to LED Lighting – If you are still using incandescent lights, it is time to switch to either fluorescent or LED lights. They save so much energy and last so much longer it just makes sense to switch. These kinds of light bulbs cost more, however the energy that is saved will ensure a relatively short payback even with the higher initial cost. In fact most stores are gradually switching over to the new lights and pretty soon you will not be able to purchase incandescent lights as well. Switch now for an immediate energy efficient solution.

Electricity – The cost of electricity is going up every year and it will continue to do so as we depend on oil and coal and lately natural gas to generate much of our electricity. Even nuclear fuel generating plants are costing more due to the increased safety concerns. Whenever you can reduce your electrical usage, you are saving money and also contributing to improving the environment. Turn lights off, take advantage of time of day electrical rates, use a microwave instead of a regular oven, turning down your thermostat in winter and up in the summer to reduce electrical usage will all reduce your electrical usage.

Some people can also use solar generators, windmills etc to generate their own electricity and reduce the load on the electrical grid. This takes more investment and know how, but there are situations where it makes sense and hopefully more energy efficient solutions will be available in the near term

Heating Fuel – Whether you heat and cool your home with electricity, natural gas or oil, the cost is going up all of the time. If you use less, then you are going to save money and use less energy. Turn down the thermostat in the winter time, especially when you are not at home. Turn up the thermostat in the summer time to reduce the cooling load. Consumers can save a significant amount of cost by following these steps. Use an electronic thermostat that you can program so that your home is automatically controlled while you are not at home. There are systems available now that allow you to control the temperature at home while you are away from home. Upgrade now if you do not have one of these.

Home Insulation – Brand new homes are very well insulated to today’s standards. Older homes, even homes that are only 5 years old will not be insulated to the same standard. Homes that are 20 years old and older will benefit from increase insulation and air exchange systems that will increase the energy efficiency of your home over all. Increase the insulation in your attic, change your windows to improve the insulating value and make sure that all caulking is up to date and that your home is well sealed. Combining improved insulation and some of the other suggestions we are making in this post will make a huge decrease in your overall energy use.

Sealing Windows and Doors – Windows and doors are prime areas were cold air can penetrate in the winter time and of course the reverse in the summer. Consumers can arrange for a pressure test to confirm were all of the air leaks are around your home and them take the steps necessary to install weather strips and caulking were needed. Another little known fact is that electrical plugs on outside walls can be a source of air exchange. Sealing these can help to reduce the amount of air being allowed into the home.

Setting the Thermostat – We discussed installing an electronic thermostat earlier. These thermostats can be set to vary the temperature up to a minimum of four times a day so that the temperature is controlled while you are in the house and lowered when you are gone for the day to work etc. Some will even allow for remote adjustment now as well. Turn down your thermostat at night when you are sleeping and also when everyone is gone to work or school. The thermostat can be set to warm up the house just before everyone comes home.

Going on Vacation – One of our neighbors leaves his thermostat set at the same temperature all day long whether he is at work or going on vacation. This is a tremendous waste of energy and money. If you are not there, why heat or cool the house and spend money needlessly. If you are concerned about freezing pipes in the winter time, make sure your thermostat is turned down, but that the furnace continues to keep the temperature of the home at a reasonable level.

Turning the Lights Off – This is a big issue in our house. Lights are constantly being left on in our house when no one is in the room. The same thing applies to the TV. It can be blaring away and no one watching it. Turn off lights, TV’s, Radios, and Computers etc if they are not being used or no one is in the room. There is a myth that a TV takes more energy to turn the TV screen on, so you should leave it on. Not only does this reduce the life of your TV, you are using energy that need not be sued. Beside the TV’s today have a keep warm feature that allows for instant on. When we go on vacation, we turn the power off completely to reduce our energy usage of even this small component.

Turning down the Water Heater Temperature – There is really no need to have your water temperature scalding hot, in fact it can be downright dangerous. Turning the temperature a few degrees will save you money as well. Find a temperature that makes sense for your family and leave it at this temperature. When you go on vacation  for longer than a couple of weeks, you might also consider turning down the temperature as well to save money in heating water that will not be used anytime soon. When you return simply turn it up again.

Adding Insulation to the Hot Water Pipes – Our water heater is located in one corner of the basement and the bathrooms are in the other corner. Seems like a bad design, but since we cannot do anything about this, the next best thing is to insulate the exposed hot water pipes to keep the water hot in the pipes longer. Your water will heat up faster as well when you turn the hot water on in your sinks. Another approach is to install instant on hot water heaters close to were you use hot water the most. Also consider installing a high efficiency water heater to maximize the energy efficient solution.

Upgrade the Furnace to High Efficiency – If you have an older furnace, your probably losing 20 or 30% of the energy up the chimney compared to a high efficiency furnace. The savings in energy costs will likely pay for the cost of the new furnace in 5 to 8 years depending on the size of your home and the temperature that you keep your home at. Outdoor temperatures also play apart in the overall cost savings. We upgraded to a mid efficiency over 10 years ago and this furnace paid for itself in 7.5 years.

Take Advantage of Time of Day Pricing – in some cities, local electrical companies are installing meters that will report energy usage by the hour. With this information they can charge rates for the electricity used based on the time of day. In our municipality, they charge almost double for electricity used during the day vs. the electricity used in the evening. Makes a lot of sense to dry clothes with the dryer in the evening, run the dishwasher etc in the evening. Any transfer of electrical usage you can make from day time use to night time use is going to save you money.

Energy Efficient Solutions – Outdoor Energy Efficient Solutions

There are many solutions available for homeowners which when applied can be used to save energy use and decrease your overall cost. We have listed a few of them here in this part of the post, however we are confident that there are many more and look forward to contributions from readers.

Solar Blankets for the Pool – If you have a pool, a solar blanket can be used to keep the water warm as well as help to heat the water as well. It takes a little work to remove it and put it in place, but time and your labor is free and you are saving energy use as well compared to heating the pool with a pool heater.

Solar Heater for the Pool – are another approach that can be used that involves little extra energy use. Rubber solar panels on the roof of your home with the water circulating though will heat the water rapidly and transfer this heat to the pool water. The drawback of this approach is that you must run the pool pump during the day when the sun is shining and the electrical rates are at the highest levels in areas where you have time of day charges for electrical usage.

Power Lawn Mowers vs. Push Lawn Mowers – for those people who are truly motivated, a manual push mower uses your manual power to turn the blades and cut the grass vs. a mower that is run by gasoline or run by electricity. You can certainly save money in this situation; however for small lawns the returns may not be that extensive.

Solar Lights – are the most popular for decorative lighting in yards etc. They are improving and are being used more and more for outdoor lighting solutions for security and for enhancement of your yard.

Well that’s it for this rather long post. We will do another one in a few months covering an entire new set of topics. Hope you enjoyed reading this one.


Electricity Consumption

Electricity ConsumptionMany people are just not aware of what their electricity consumption is during the day or even during the month.  The chart on the left is for one day in June of 2011 for our home. It illustrates a number of things, but before we get into that we need to explain the chart a bit and how it relates to energy consumption.

In our city we have time of day billing for energy consumption. the green represents electricity used from 7pm until 7am. Yellow represents two time zones, one from 7 am to 11 am and the other from 5pm until 7pm. This is the mid level while the green is called off peak usage or consumption. The red runs from 11am until 5pm in the afternoon and is called peak usage time. They charge almost double for energy consumption during the peak times compared to what they charge in off peak times. The idea is to encourage customers to use less power during the day and more at night. It tends to balance out the electrical load between commercial customers and residential customers.

We have found that we can reduce our electrical bill a great deal by drying our clothes in the dryer during the evening, shifting air conditioning to the evening hours and generally not using electricity during the day.

Electricity Consumption – Why Should I Bother

Many people might take this attitude when they look at the chart and see that they are only talking about a dollar a day for peak hours. However if you multiply this by 365 days and you can save lets say even two or three dollars a day, pretty soon your getting close to a thousand a year that you can save. I do not know about you , but a thousand dollars in my pocket instead of the electrical utility is a lot better in my books! It is not that difficult to save this kind of money compared to doing nothing at all. it is really just getting into certain habits which will not impact your life that much and will save you money.

What Do I need to Do to Reduce my Electricity Consumption?

It is pretty simple really. First focus on the big consumers of electricity and try to move their consumption from peak or mid peak to off peak hours. Drying and washing clothes, washing dishes in the dishwasher, adding a timer to your pool pump, running your furnace on your home later in the day are all good examples of major consumers of electricity. Anything with a motor or a heating element should be shifted into off peak usage rate hours.

Next turn off all appliances that are not in use. If you are not in the room , turn of f  the TV set for example. While things like radios and other electronics draw very little electricity, they all draw something, so why have them on if you are not in the room. Same thing with lights. turn them off if you are not in the room. Convert all lights from incandescent to LED or fluorescent lighting and save big time on your usage in this category.

Once you and your family get into the habit of turning off things especially during the day, it will become second nature and you will see the results when your electrical bill arrives. this is extra money that can be used to spend on trips, clothes or whatever your families needs are.

Electrical Consumption is All About Attitude

Some people just do not want to be bothered about reducing electricity consumption, while others consider it beneath them to even have to worry about something like this. One neighbor really just cannot be bothered. He would rather work and pay his higher bills instead of reducing his electricity consumption. Early we talked about potentially reducing your electricity bill by as much as a thousand dollars. Did you consider how much  you need to earn in order to pay that extra thousand. Depending on your income tax rate, you might have to earn as much as $1500 to $2000 in order to pay that thousand dollar bill. I do not know about you, but I would rather put that money to other uses and or work less.

Something to think about when it comes to reducing electricity consumption and reducing your overall energy cost.


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 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. 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 and 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 such as TV’s and computers for example.

The other principle here is that every little device, including lights, 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.

 


Reduce Electricity First

This may seem like an odd post to be included in an alternate and renewable energy blog, however when you think about it, one of the first things you may want to do is to reduce or control the amount of electricity that you use every day before you start looking for other sources of electricity. The subject of this post is how can I reduce the mount of Reduce Electricity Firstelectricity that we use every day.

The chart on the left is a graph of our electrical usage. We are on a smart meter system and pay for electricity based on the time of day usage.  Green is from 7pm to 7am, while yellow is from 7am to 11am and 5pm to 7pm, and red which is the highest cost is from 11am to 5pm in the day. As you can see in June, July and Aug of 2010 we used a lot of electricity. We were running a pool pump  basically 24 hours a day.  Air conditioning was operating a lot and contributed to a high cost for electricity during those months.

During Feb, Mar and April we were in the sunny south, so the only thing that was using electricity was our furnace, our fridge and security lights that turn automatically when it gets dark, which in the winter time is for almost 14 hours a day. There is a huge difference even from Dec which is also a cold winter month. All TV’s , computers etc were unplugged so there was no trickle draw of electricity. This shows the dramatic difference between usage from different months and the impact of shutting everything down.

Electricity Reduction List

Some web sites advertise usage meters or kill a watt meters, however if you just use your common sense you can reduce your electrical bill substantially. Here is a list of the things that you might consider in terms of energy reduction when it comes to electricity:

  • Turn  off all lights in vacant rooms
  • Eliminate the 2nd fridge
  • Eliminate the freezer
  • Turn off and unplug all electronics when not in use e.g. TV’s, radios etc
  • Run pool pumps for a few hours a day in non peak times
  • Run air conditioning during non peak times
  • Turn up the temperature for air conditioning so that it runs less
  • Convert all lights to fluorescent bulbs to reduce your electrical draw
  • Schedule clothes washing and drying to non peak electrical rate times
  • Schedule dish washer operation to non peak electrical rate times

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