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Some thoughts on saving electricty or my take on the "Green revolution" part2

Posted 03-02-2009 at 07:00 AM by faucetman886

As promised in my last Blog here’s a stab at some helpful hints to save electricity in your home in furtherance of the “green revolution”. Every one has heard and many people are using the compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL). Although expensive, initially, to purchase these light bulbs fit in a standard lamp socket in the place of the old incandescent style bulb. They burn cooler giving off little or no heat, have a pleasant bright white light and last an estimated 10 times longer than the average light bulb. This long life goes a long way toward offsetting the initial cost but where the real savings comes is from the low electricity usage. Lighting accounts for close to 20 percent of the average home’s electric bill. ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs use up to 75 percent less energy (electricity) than incandescent light bulbs and they provide a quick return on investment. Although may I also remind you of your Dad who went through the house screaming “who left all these lights on?” He was right. We are an amazing people who go through life turning on lights, during broad daylight, when entering a a room and going through the house turning them all off when we get ready to go to bed at night. My family and I lived in Los Angeles in the 1980’s in a nice little house up in the Hollywood Hills whose main attraction was a breathtaking view of the entire L.A. basin spread out before you. We made a game for the children out of watching to see when the first light would come on at night but in reality the lights were always already on all day and truth be known the view was never dark, millions of lights burning all night long in homes and buildings with no one there. Is your home or office that way still today?
You can consider the old tricks. Set back thermostats to control your HVAC systems while you are away and during peak usage times have been around for over 20 years and are now standard equipment on newer homes and are an easy 15 minute fix for your older home at a minimum investment for as little as $20. This can be made up in the first week of proper use. You can invest in “energy star” rated appliances that are certified to save electricity over older models and in some instances can repay the initial costs of replacing some energy hog appliances.
There are some newer tricks that you may not have considered. Have you checked your hot water heater? As I discussed in the last blog you can live with a lower temperature setting on your water heater which should never exceed 120 degrees F any way. The Manufactured home builders long ago built in lighted switches that allow you to completely turn the hot water tank off. These lighted switches fit in a standard outlet box, usually in a hallway or bathroom but instead or being a 15 or 20 amp switch they are 60 amps or greater to control the high voltage on the heater. You can accomplish the same thing by simply tripping your circuit breaker and turn the device off at times when you will be away or it’s less likely that you will need hot water. Most Hot water heaters are terribly inefficient and many people are replacing them with the new tankless varieties that provide instant hot water and when not in use are not using any only small amounts of energy. I live alone and have found that simply keeping my hot water heater turned off saves at least 15% on my monthly electricity bill. Additionally as I mentioned in the previous blog on water conservation if you wash your clothes in cold water that eliminates the need for the hot water tank to be working overtime. Additionally look at the settings on your dish washer. Are you stepping up the water temp by using a Pot scrubber cycle? Are you allowing the dishwasher to dry the dishes by using the drying cycle? Have you ever heard of a dish rack and a hand towel??? Do you have children? how are they earning their allowance?Many people rarely look at their dishwasher settings and are uselessly wasting electricity on those 2 settings alone.
Many electric utilities offer a rebate on your power bill of you will allow them to install a radio frequency device inline with your meter that lets them shed your 220 power off during peak times of demand. This demand times are usually early mornings and late afternoons when people are getting ready for work or getting home from the office and starting dinner and during peak heating and cooling demand times. Can’t live without the HVAC, clothes dryer, hot water heater at those times? I lived in Lakeland Florida or 8 years and had the system in place in my home an never once knew it was working. They also offer rebate plans for new high efficiency appliances and fixtures. Call your utilities today and ask what they can do for you.
I am sure that I have missed many more easy ways to save energy but here is the one that you will disbelieve when I tell you yet it will allow you to save the most electricity in the easiest manner. UNPLUG THINGS. Did you know that if you have an “instant on” TV, VCR, DVD player or stereo system that they are using 70% of the electricity while turned off that they use when running or turned on? If your device has a red power light that shows that it is turned off then its using power and not just to keep the light on. These devices keep the main power supply on so that it does not have to "warm up" to provide the necessary power to operate the device. Unplug it or plug it into a plug strip with a single "on/off" switch that allows you to turn on everything at once. Make sure the strip you use is only using power to light the light. Yes you may have to wait 20 seconds for the TV to come on but think of how much energy its wasting sitting there waiting for you to come home just so you can save that 20 sec wait. The same thing applies to a toaster, toaster ovens, microwave ovens, and literally every appliance that you have plugged in. They are all using electricity even when not turned on. The only small appliance plugged in all the time in my kitchen is the microwave oven which is built in and I’m thinking about having it wired to a switch or a plug outlet so I can turn the darn thing off. I don’t need the clock on it, there are 3 others in the kitchen already that have to be reset every time there’s a power failure and that’s the only thing it does for me when its not heating food.
In summation we can all save electricity just by being a little smarter or “frugal”, which doesn’t mean cheap. Think of your dad once in a while and call him if you're still lucky enough have him and tell him he was right and maybe an “I love you” would go a long way too. I write this while sitting by the phone waiting for the call from my children and no the recharger for the cell phone is not plugged in because it uses power all the time too and that goes for the computer CPU and the recharger for the laptop and……get the message?
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