This is the fourth in a series on lowering your electric bills. Today we'll look at a few final ways you can lower your electricity costs and stay ahead of the inflation monster.
Lighting Use natural light. A single south-facing window can illuminate 20 to 100 times its area. If you turn off one 60-watt bulb for four hours a day and use natural light instead, you can save as much as $9 a year.
Use task lighting. Instead of lighting up the whole room with the ceiling lights, turn those off and instead use table lamps, track lighting and under-counter lights in work and hobby areas as well as in the kitchen. For reading or close work, use a flashlight that hangs around your neck. It lets you focus the light right where you need it and it's easy to recharge these flashlights, making them a real bargain.
It goes without saying: turn off the lights when you're not in the room. If you switch off two 100-watt incandescent bulbs for just two hours per day you could save as much as $15 a year.
For the biggest savings, switch all your light bulbs to compact fluorescent lamps or light-emitting diodes. LED bulbs use 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting. According to Energy.gov the average household can save $225 a year on their electric bill if they switch over to LED lights.
Cooling We're in the middle of a heat wave and while you may be tempted to run the AC all day long, it's probably not a good idea. There's no reason to run the AC when you're not at home, so turn it off if you're going to be gone for more than three or four hours. We discussed programmable thermostat at the beginning of these series [https://mydakotan.com/2022/06/lower-your-electric-bill/] Set the thermostat to turn the AC off while you're away and turn it back on just before you are scheduled to get back.
Close the window shades when the sun is at its warmest. This is especially important on windows that have direct sunlight coming in. At night, open the shades and windows to bring in cool air and allow cross ventilation. This means your AC will have less work to do in the morning when you start it back up.
Air ducts Air ducts that are clogged or leaking can be a real electricity-sucker. Improperly functioning air ducts can increase heating and cooling costs by as much as 20%. Have your air ducts inspected for holes, clogs or leaks and have them professionally cleaned periodically.
Be aware of phantom energy use
These days, more and more products are still drawing electricity despite the fact that you've turned them off. For example, your TV needs to be ready to start up when you hit the power button on the remote, so it has to be on “standby” even when you think you've turned it off. Your DVR or digital cable box can use 30 watts or more even in standby
According to the US Department of Energy, electronics on standby account for 10% or more of your electricity bill. Phantom energy costs the average family as much as $165 per year, and for what? So that your TV can turn on at a moment's notice? Yes, it's convenient to have instant TV, but is it worth the cost?
One of the best ways to control these power wasters is by plugging your electronic devices into a power strip. When you're not at home or before you go to bed for the night, you can turn them all off by just flipping a switch.
Depending on the model and how it’s used, computers can use between 25 and 250 watts per hour. The average home computer is around 100 watts. But when it’s sleeping it uses only 2 watts. That's a big difference, especially if you have the computer running most of the day. Set your computer's energy use so that it sleeps when it is idle for 10 minutes. Not only will this save on your electricity bill, but it will also make your computer last longer as the components will not spend as much time needlessly heating up.
Each of these tips will save you just a few dollars each a month. That may not seem like much, but added together, if you adopt all, or most, of the tips in the last four columns, you could save hundreds of dollars on your electric bill each year.