Always a big cost each month here are a few ways to lessen what you pay for electricity. Sure, you’ve probably heard some of them before today, but maybe those winter heating bills make doing something about it more urgent. And the summer air conditioning costs are just around the corner.
Electricity is a great mystery to many of us. You turn a switch – and the light comes on, or an appliance starts to work. It’s amazing, and so convenient. And therefore it’s easy to take for granted, especially when there is a gap in time between using the electricity and paying for it. It sort of feels free – until the bill arrives.
It’s a great idea to involve everyone in your household in The Great Electricity Diet. Begin by finding out about electricity generation in your area. Where does your electricity come from? How does it get to your home? How are the delivery and kilowatt unit costs calculated?
Start today with Suggestion #1. Make a commitment and see what a difference you can make. They say that a month of doing something and it becomes a habit. Good luck!
1. Start with a household audit of your electricity usage. Get out recent electricity bills and have a look at how many units you usually use. Chart the figures to see if there are seasonal patterns. Have a look at the wheel turning in the meter box as electricity is consumed, if you have that type of meter. It’s surprising how fast it moves! Take a note of the reading at the same time each day and make a chart or graph of daily kilowatts used. Do this for a week while continuing what you normally do. It’s good to have this chart as a comparison for when you start to make changes.
You may get all fired up to start immediately but wait until the first audit week is over. Put the start date in the calendar and make sure everyone knows.
2. Turn it off if it’s not in use. This rule alone will make a big difference. It’s so easy to just leave appliances on even if we only use them for a short time each day. Microwaves use electricity even if they’re not in use, just by being plugged in and turned on at the wall. The same for kettles and toasters. Then there’s also the television sets and computers. Yes, it’s a hassle to turn them off at the wall, but think of the dollars saved. Appoint someone to be the Switch-it-Off-Inspector to do the rounds each evening – and rotate the job each week.
3. Seal any gaps. Cold air can get into the house through very small gaps so make sure that they are found and sealed. Check around the doors and windows. Hardware stores sell tape of various sizes and thickness for a small price that will stick to window frames so windows close firmly without space for cold air to get in. Check the sealing on the fridge doors. If cold air is escaping the fridge will have to work harder and so use more electricity.
4. Change your light bulbs – and even light fittings. Light bulbs are small but there are so many of them in the house that using efficient ones will make a difference. They cost a little more but you’ll make up that cost in electricity savings. Another thing to consider are the light fittings themselves. One house I lived in had ceiling lights with three light bulbs fitted. Not only did the light spread in strange directions instead of where it would be useful, but it was also three times the cost to run!
5. Insulate. Big savings can be made here. Check the hot water cylinder, the ceiling cavity, and underneath the house. Once the initial cost is over, the rewards in comfort and better health make it worthwhile. A hot water cylinder that is not insulated loses a lot of heat and adds so much cost to the bill. The small price of insulating it will soon be rewarded. (Or you could install a hot water on demand system. Keeping a tank of water hot does take a lot of electricity, even when insulated.) Above and below the house are big areas to insulate but the cost will be recouped and in the end, capital value has been added to your home.
6. Reduce the number of your appliances and time in using them. Have a look at all the electrical appliances in your home. How many appliances do you really need? Which ones could you cut back on using? So much leisure time is spent in front of something that is plugged into the wall. If everyone is committed to the idea, a night without television and computers, and instead going for a walk or playing a board game together can contribute to the power cut-down, as well as being a lot of fun. Try it at least once this month.
Open the cupboards. If there are small appliances you haven’t used for some time, give them away, or sell them to someone who might use them. Make sure the money goes towards the electricity bill.
At the end of the month look at the chart you’ve recorded of the daily meter readings and see if you’ve been able to make a difference. Congratulate yourselves. But keep going. Find other ways to save. You may even be ready to consider generating your own electricity. Which brings us to the final suggestion.
7. Install solar panels on the roof. Imagine that instead of reducing your electricity bill, you were able to almost totally annihilate it! Tiny, little electricity bills. Or even gone! And then maybe even sell your surplus summer electricity back to the companies you used to buy from! And all while making use of a powerful energy source that is available to all of us free – the sun. Photovoltaic cells convert light energy into electricity, available for use in your home. Installing solar panels used to be out of the reach financially for most people, but the technology has improved and costs have fallen to the extent that it’s really worth doing. If you’re ready for a summer project, there’s more information on my website.