Monday, May 17, 2010

Saving money on utilities for renters (and owners) - Part 2 Electricity

Last time I spoke about how to save money by conserving water.  Now it's time to talk about how to save money and energy with some simple changes.

Saving energy can be simple by just turning off lights when you leave for the day to completely changing appliances.  Well be talking a little bit about both here beginning with the simplest to the more difficult/expensive.
  • Turn it off - Turning off the TV, radio, lights, and everything else that isn't actively being used will immediately save you money.  Not only that, it can save you money by not needing to replace the devices as frequently too. 
  • CFL lightbulbs- Right now is the time to change these light bulbs, not when they blow.  You're probably thinking, the cost of them is too high to change now, I'll slowly integrate it into my bills by replacing them as they go, this is wrong.  Yes, you certainly will have a higher cost up front, but you'll instantly see a drop in your electricity bill as well, especially if you always keep your lights on.  Technology has increased to the point now where CFL are much better than they were years ago.  The buzzing along with the dim effect of where it takes a few minutes to light fully are completely gone now.  Changing these light bulbs will also free up a few minutes for you because they typically last for 8 to 15 times that of a regular light bulb or put into hours, I typically buy CFL's that last 10,000 hours, while regular light bulbs last about 1,000 hours.  In addition to having a lower energy bill you might need less of your air conditioning during the summer months since CFL's run much cooler than regular light bulbs.  Check your local energy company for discounts or rebates, sometimes they'll even give them to you for free!
  •  Programmable thermostat - A programmable thermostat like the Honeywell RTH230B is a 5 +2 day thermostat which means you can program during the week and a program for the weekend.  This change alone can save you up to 33% on your heating and energy bills! 
  • Killing the vampire energy - For electronics that are capable of going into low power mode or have create "warts" on the wall, smart strips are the way to go to get rid of them.  These power strips know when the electronics aren't being used and will automatically turn them off, saving you money.  To know what's slowly stealing your power, a great device to use to check would be the kill a watt, this device can determine how much energy you use and how much it adds to your energy bill once you enter the rate you're paying.
  • Switch to Energy Star - When your next appliance dies, it might be a good time to switch to an energy star device, they will not only save you money, they are typically of a better quality from what I've found and will last you a lot longer.  Check with your local energy company for discounts or rebates.  Currently most of the appliances we've bought are energy star and it's amazing how low that bill can go!  
  •  Get rid of it.  Life is so complicated with all of this technology around us.  In my apartment, I just have my laptop, NAS to back up the data, ipod for the cat, and cell phones.  No TV, no DVD player, no game systems, nothing.  And let me tell you, when I come home, I feel so relaxed because I'm away from all of those distractions, complications, wires, etc.... Life is simple, the way it should be.

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