Awhile back, I set a goal of substantially reducing our electric bill as compared to the $165 monthly average of the previous owners. For a quick bit of background, our house is roughly 3, 000 square feet, completely electric (including the water heater and furnace) and located relatively deep in the southeastern United States.
In the time since I set that goal, we’ve done a bit of insulating, swapped out most of our incandescent lightbulbs for compact fluorescent bulbs, and also worked on finding the sweetspot with our thermostat (i.e., the highest we can go and still maintain a comfortable home environment).
Well, we just received the bill for our first full month of service (our initial bill covered just part of a month) and we owe just a shade under $130 — $129.68 to be exact. While I’m pleased that we’re well below the target, I must admit that I’ve never lived in a house with electric heat before, so I’m not sure how summer and winter bills will compare. That being said, it’s been hotter than hell over the past few weeks, so I think we’re doing pretty well.
That being said, there are still some areas where we could improve — for example, we leave the computer and laser printer on (albeit asleep) round the clock for convenience. One thing that we could do here would be to set the computer up to automatically shutdown at night and restart in the morning. That way it would be ready when we need it, but it wouldn’t waste juice when we don’t. I could also throw the laser printer (and a variety of other electronic devices) on timers such that they wouldn’t draw power during the night, but I haven’t gotten around to that. If I really wanted to go hog wild, I’d invest in a Kill-a-Watt and track down all the ‘phantom’ electrical use in our house.
4 Responses to “Reducing Our Electrical Usage, Update #2”
Since I sometimes use my computer from work, if only to listen to my music collection, I like to leave it on during the day. Unfortunately it’s a Power Mac G5 which uses about 180 watts just sitting there. However, I’ve written scripts to kick it into a lower-power mode when the screen blanker kicks in. A SmartStrip cuts off power to the speaker system when the monitors go blank. I also have taken to shutting it down at night (it boots itself up at 3 AM to do my daily backup, but upon completion I have another script that shuts the machine back down if it was turned off before the backup ran). I have seen only a slight decrease in my electric bill, though.
Most computers and even laser printers use very little electricity when asleep. While timers – at least the mechanical kind – actually do consume a bit of juice themselves – more than you’d save by having the devices powered down. There are a few kinds of electronic timers nowadays – I’d expect they’d be more efficient than the mechanical ones.
Switching to CFL bulbs and adjusting your thermostat are great ways to start saving electricity. Some other ideas include reducing your computer’s energy usage and employing other efficient home cooling techniques.
I set up my CRT monitor and my printers and a light on my desk on a surge protector right under the desk. When I sit down, I can flip the surge protector on and turn everything on with my toe, and turn it off when I get up. My computer and my LCD monitor are on a UPS battery along with the router and cable modem. I manually turn the computer on and off as well; no need to have it on at night since it generates too much heat. The laser printer and the CRT monitor are the biggest energy hogs, though, so they are off unless I’m actively using them.