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Saving Electricity

(2009-11-11)

Before we get to the tips on specific appliances, remember one simple thing: You'll save more electricity by dealing with the biggest electricity-guzzlers rather than worrying about items that don't use much electricity.

Obsessing about whether it's better to boil a cup of water on an electric burner or in a microwave, or whether you wear out your lights quicker by turning them off rather than keeping them on, is a waste of time and misses the point. Such trivia won't make a dime's worth of difference in your electric bill. It's the biger things that matter. With that in mind, you'll first want to address the big energy users in your home first, such as your:

Here's how much various strategies can save you.

 

Easy Strategies

Strategy Up front cost

Savings per year

Use space heaters to heat only the rooms you're in, (rather than a central system that heats the whole house), and turning off the heat when you're not home.

$80 $1023
Use ceiling fans instead of the air conditioner

$100

if you don't already have  ceiling fans

$438
Turn off lights you're not using $0 $274
 Use a clothesline or a laundry rack instead of a dryer $20 $196
Sleep your computer when you're not using it $0 $178
Wash laundry in cold water instead of hot or warm none $152
Turn off a single 100-watt light bulb, from running constantly $0 $131
Replace ten 60-watt light bulbs with compact fluorescents $32 $123
Total

$232 

once

$2515

every year 

Aggressive Strategies

Replace top-loading washer with front-loading washer $500 $112
Replace 1990 fridge with newer model $300 $68
Total

$800 

once

$180 

every year

 

Assumptions:

Sample electrical rate of 15¢/kWh.

  1.  One 5000-watt central system, always on, running 40mins/hr. for four  months, vs. two 1500-watt heaters running 8 hours a day for four  months.
  2. A 2.5-ton, 3500-watt AC 24 hours a day (15 mins/hr) for five months,  vs. two 48" ceiling fans on high (75 watts each), 12 hours/day.
  3. Five 100-watt light bulbs on for 10 hours a day when they don't need  to be.
  4. 50¢/load as per the clothes dryers 7.5 loads a week.
  5. Computer on for 24 hrs/day @ 160 watts, vs. sleeping 21 hrs/day @ 5  watts
  6. Electric water heater; 7.5 loads/week.
  7. CFL's are 15 watts, lights run 5.5 hours a day.
  8. 1/3 hot washes, 2/3 warm washes, water heated electrically, electric  dryer, 7.5 loads/week. Includes water costs.
  9. Replacing a 900 kWh/year top-freezer model with a 450 kWh/year  top-freezer model.
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