Monday, March 31, 2008

Make a Dent in Your Utility Bills

In an effort lower my electric bill, I recently replaced EVERY regular incandescent light bulb in my home with new energy efficient Compact Flourescent Lights. (CFLs) The price of CFLs has come down considerably and the quality of the light output has remarkably improved. The first rooms I targeted were the ones that were likely to be left on by kids, which included the bedroom lamps, ceiling fan bulbs and the bathroom vanity. Since the curly CFLs would look rather awkward over the vanity, (ugly but effective) I found some Globe style CFL's that would replace the clear globes that were in the vanity and they look great. Two of the bathrooms had four globes each, while the master bath vanity had a whopping EIGHT bulbs to replace! 16 bulbs x 40 watts = 640 watts being used by incandescent lighting. The same fixtures with CFL replacements uses only 144 watts! (16 x 9 watts = 144) That's a 75% savings in energy usage for just the bathroom lighting. I also replaced all of the dining room bulbs, (60w x 3) closet bulbs, (60w x 2) hallway lights,(75w x 2) over the sink lights, (60w x 2) basement ceiling lights, (100w x3) garage door opener bulbs (75w x 3)with CFLs of the equivalent brightness. I figure this will add up to an approximate savings of $300-400 per year on the electric portion of the utility bill. I found a great article on Danny Lipford's site about CFLs and Going green. Great article and good information Next on the list: Energy Efficient Christmas Lights!

I also signed up with the Utility Company to allow them to curtail the usage of my air conditioning unit in the summer time. They installed a wireless programmable controller that allows them to adjust my thermostat in the summer months to reduce power consumption on hot summer days by preventing my AC from running as much. It is set to 78 degrees in the summer months. During high usage periods, the utility company might raise the setting anywhere from 2-4 degrees to 80-82 degrees but it can be overridden if it becomes too uncomfortable in the house. In the winter months, I use the programmable timer to "set back" the thermostat to 65 degrees after bedtime, and during times the house is likely to be unoccupied. Otherwise it stays at a comfortable 68 degrees. Another cool feature of the device is that the thermostat can be accessed and controlled via the internet!

To help curb the cost of overly long showers I invested in low-flow shower heads and installed restricted faucet aerators so we're not wasting as much water. Am looking at installing a tankless water heater to reduce the use of the gas water heater and provide "endless hot water". In the meantime I installed a hot water heater blanket and put split foam tube pipe insulation on the visible hot water pipes in our unfinished basement. This helps the pipes retain the heat of the water so it doesn't take as long for the water to get hot at the faucets. I have also considered installing water-efficient toilets, but that's lower on my priority list. We are also considering purchasing a more energy efficient washer and dryer. Thanks to a recent GE diswasher recall, we were ended up getting a much nicer, quiet and more energy efficient dishwasher as well.

For more tips on saving money on your Utility Bill, check out this article by Jeremy Zonker.

Another obvious power hungry appliance is your personal computer. Although the latest processors and power supplies are more energy efficient, leaving a computer running constantly can add up. Utilize the power saving settings so the computer hibernates or sleeps during periods of inactivity.

If you are really curious how much power a specific appliance or device uses, invest in a "kill-a-watt", which allows you to plug in a device and see how much energy it consumes when it is plugged in. (even if it's not turned on!). You can then make an active choice to uplug the device (if you can) when it is not in use.

Click here to purchase a CFLs, a Kill A Watt device or other cool items from

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