Friday, 3 October 2014

4 Energy Saving Tips: Lower Your Home Power Bill

Cut Your Energy Use With These Simple Steps

Electricity is an expense that can really eat into your wallet each month. Saving cash where you can is important, and we spend an unnecessary amount on energy for no good reason.
So what's the answer? A couple of simple, affordable upgrades can offer a huge benefit.

Here's the key: replace the hungriest power drains in your house with more efficient alternatives. 

Once that's done, you'll notice a marked improvement in your energy bill each month.

Not sure where to start? Here are a couple of simple suggestions to cut your energy costs without spending a fortune to begin with.

Idea #1: Replace Incandescent Light Bulbs with LEDs

A few years ago you had only two real options with lighting: standard, power hungry incandescent bulbs, or high efficiency fluorescent fixtures.

Incandescent light bulbs are inexpensive and popular, and they produce a great light quality that's easy on the eyes. The main problem is that they're remarkably inefficient.

Much of the power used is lost as heat, so you're not getting very much 'bang for your buck'. 

What's more, incandescent bulbs burn out very quickly. They're cheap to purchase, but when you go through dozens per fixture per year, the costs add up.

Fluorescent bulbs use far less power, but the light quality isn't nearly as good. They operate by 'flickering' at a rate just too fast for the human eye to detect. You may not notice it, but fluorescent bulbs are notorious for causing eye strain and headaches. Some people (myself included) are more susceptible to this strain than others. 

Furthermore, many fluorescent bulbs contain harmful metals such as mercury, and must be recycled carefully to not cause environmental harm. 

Enter the LED

LED light bulbs were once an expensive item, but in recent years the price tag has really come down. They're highly efficient, often using a fraction of the energy of a comparable incandescent bulb. 

They aren't really 'bulbs', but a collection of many small light emitting diodes. These diodes are actually tiny semiconductors, and they're remarkably energy efficient. 

LED bulbs don't create much heat. In fact, you can often handle one immediately after switching off the power source. In that way they're a safe alternative.

They're also very durable, since they don't rely on a fragile filament. They can survive drops and keep on ticking.

Most importantly, an LED light bulb is going to be far more energy efficient than an incandescent, as they produce more lumens per watt. They're comparable with fluorescents for efficiency. 

Want to save some money on your home energy bill? Switch your bulbs to LEDs and note the difference!

Idea #2: Buy a Programmable Thermostat

Adam Melancon
Finding your energy bill too high for your liking? Consider that your heat is probably running at a constant temperature all day long.

Building heating systems are remarkable inefficient. It really makes no sense to heat a huge space that's only occupied by a few individuals, particularly at night.

I often forget to turn down the thermostat at night. Each time I do, it costs me. 

A programmable thermostat is a fantastic way to reduce that cost and have a little more peace of mind. You can set it exactly to your liking, and leave it!

There have been advances lately in this area. Someday we may have heat that hits you like a spotlight wherever you go. 

Currently, we have learning thermostats that know when you're home and when you're away. They learn your habits and heat the home accordingly, so no power is unnecessarily wasted. (I'll write a dedicated article on that topic soon!)

You don't necessarily have to go that high tech yet, though. A simple programmable thermostat is a fantastic, inexpensive way to save a lot of money.

Idea #3: Unplug Those Gadgets

Obviously I'm a gadget junkie, but this habit can cost me. 

Those little recharging units plugged into the wall? They often draw a bit of power even when not in use. 

The same is true for almost all power adaptors and many appliances and gizmos. Everything from your coffee pot to your hair dryer could be drawing juice all day long.

The solution is blessedly simple: just unplug them when you're done! 

Not sure if an adaptor is drawing power? Feel it! If it's warm to the touch and nothing is plugged in, it's drawing electricity.

Each adaptor, device and appliance has a cumulative effect. Over time they can cost you a lot of money. If you're baffled by 'phantom' energy costs, this is a good first place to look!

Idea #4: Get a High Efficiency Hot Water Heater

Geoffrey Gallaway
This might not be the first thing to spring to your mind, but a high efficiency hot water heater can make a staggering difference in your monthly costs.

Modern ones are far more efficient, and they have to keep far less water heated at any given time. 

There are even on demand hot water heaters which remove the need for a tank altogether. They only turn on when the tap is activated.

Think about how often you use hot water each day. A shower, a bath, washing dishes, washing your clothes, it's a huge energy draw (whether you're on natural gas or electricity). 

There are an impressive number of highly efficient water heaters to choose from. A plumber or heating specialist is the perfect resource for finding a winner.

Other Tips and Home Energy Bill Solutions

There are many other, non-gadget related ways to reduce that bill. Window efficiency is a big one: a double glazed window will save you a fortune over the long run, and it will reduce outside noise as well. 

In the same way, sealing air leaks and improving your home insulation is a big one too. If you're unsure about thermal leaks, you can either hire an insulator to take a look, or pick up a cheap thermal leak detector to measure the temperature of your walls, windows and ceiling. It's a good way to pick up on a costly heating leak.

In the hotter summer months, you can save on AC and fan electricity bills by shielding your home from the sun. Trees, shrubs and greenery can make a huge difference in how cool your home is. And surprisingly, insulation makes a big difference in keeping your home cool as well as hot.

Try hanging your clothing to dry during the summer. A dryer takes a lot of energy to run, and nothing makes your clothing smell better than fresh summer air.

How have you cut your energy bill recently? Have any tips to include? Please leave them in the comments section. Thanks for reading!

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