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Going Green Part 3: Saving Electricity

There are some easy ways to save electricity and some not so easy ways. Let's start with the easy ways first.

The easiest (and cheapest) way  to save electricity is to unplug everything that you are not using at that moment. Many devices stay in "stand by" mode ready to be turned on (kind of like most guys, but I digress). These devices, like boomboxes, tvs, electronic device chargers, and the like, can draw anywhere from 0.1 watts to 5 watts while not doing anything! I measured a boombox at 3 watts when it was turned off! Sure, it took 15 watts when it was running, but 3 watts while off? That's about $3 per year (quick and dirty estimate - it is actually just a little less than $1 per watt per year).  The largest savings will come from a computer that is left on 24x7. Desktop computers can take anywhere between 75 and 150 watts, depending on many factors, such as if you have an LCD screen or a CRT, which CPU you have, or which graphics card you have. Having this type of computer "hibernate" can save $75 to $150 per year.

Next up is light bulbs. If you are not running compact fluorescent bulbs, you should be. They take 75% less electricity than the older incandescent and last 10x as long. The CF bulb is not without it's weaknesses though. The first one is that they cannot be dimmed, unless you buy special dimmable bulbs, which of course are more expensive. Even then, they don't work the best with the standard dimmers; there are special CF dimmers but those are really expensive. Next the color output of these bulbs isn't anywhere near as nice as incandescent bulbs. Sure you can get them in "daylight" "Warm White" "Cool white" "Soft white" and the like, but their spectrum is nowhere near incandescents. But their energy savings is very impressive. I know LED bulbs take 80% less than incandescents, but they, for the most part, are still extremely expensive at $30 per bulb.

The next item is the air conditioner. Use it less and save a bunch on electricity. Turn the temp up a couple of degrees and it'll save immensely. This is the appliance that draws the most power in the home. Why do you think it has its own 30A 240V breaker?  What else has that kind of power draw? Oh yeah, the electric dryer, or electric stove, or electric water heater.

If you have an electric dryer, there are 2 choices to saving power. The first is easy and inexpensive. Use a clothes line. At a cost of a few dollars, it's very inexpensive, and it is also much easier on your clothes. Your clothes will last longer, and smell better.

If you have an electric stove, just take note that you don't run this appliance 24x7. And in actuality, baking is more precise with electric elements than the gas burners.

If you have an electric water heater, the best thing is to replace it with a gas water heater. Electric water heaters use about $488 per year in electricity. Compare that to an average gas water heater at about $163 per year. That's over $300 per year savings! This is probably the one appliance that should be / could be changed out due to its nature of running 24x7. If you are changing it out, check out tankless water heater, sometimes called on-demand water heaters. They only operate when you are using hot water.  The other option with this device is to put it on a timer. You really need hot water only a couple times per day. If you can move the morning shower to an evening shower, then the water heater could possibly be running 5pm to 10pm.

Turn off lights when they are not in use. That's a hard one for us, because we have young children. They tend to turn on the lights and leave them on.

The next step is inline with turning off the lights. Open the curtains and shades and use the natural sunlight. Yes, you'll see the neighbors, but that's part of living in a neighborhood.

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Steven Hong - RE/MAX Results 
REALTOR, e-PRO, GREEN, Old Home Certified 
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