Save Electricity at Home

Electricity accounts for a large portion of most of our monthly bills. It was one of those “modern conveniences” that quickly became necessity, to the point that most of us have never lived without it and even insist that we couldn’t – with good reason because of how most homes are designed.

Sure, you can save electricity by lighting Coleman lanterns, or kerosene lamps or even candles for light, but what do you do about the furnace fan? Or the toaster? Or the refrigerator? It would take a great adjustment to use an ice box – and besides that, where would you find large, solidly frozen ice blocks any more? It’s been a long time since I’ve seen an ice house!

I know… you’re asking yourself what in the world made me start talking about doing without electricity. The answer is simple and I’ll warn you – it’s a four letter word.

(Bill.)

You know. The one they send you every month and say you owe them just to be able to read at night? That one. And if it’s too high (personal interpretation allowed), it’s time to do something about it.

No… you don’t have to have your electricity turned off.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, one third of our energy dollars goes to lighting and appliances, not including heating water and using refrigeration. (Heating and cooling cost the most.) That’s a big percentage and the overall cost can be cut in just about every case.

Here are some ways you can save on that monster bill

1. Start changing out regular incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents Although fluorescents cost more to buy, their life times are longer and they use far less electricity for the same amount of light. Most have charts or statements on the label to help you compare, but look for the “Energy Star” on the label. That means it’s rated specifically to save energy.

2. Maybe this should be number one, but turn off anything you’re not using. That includes lights, TVs, radios, stereos and computers. Most computers use the equivalent of around three 100 watt light bulbs, so turning them off at night will save plenty.

3. Flip the switch off on power strips, or unplug “instant on” anything, including TVs and computers. These use electricity all the time unless electricity is cut off to them.

4. Keep your refrigerator coils clean. Vacuum at least twice a year. Don’t overload refrigerator shelves with food. Air circulation is important and will help keep temperature even, keeping the refrigerator from running as often and that will save money. Check the gasket, keep it clean and lightly oiled (run a thin film of machine oil over it occasionally for a tight seal and to preserve it.

5. Keep a freezer full – it operates on a different principle than a refrigerator. A frozen mass tends to keep things around it frozen, too. If you don’t have enough food to fill it, save plastic containers and fill them two thirds of the way with water. Water-filled plastic bags that can be sealed make an excellent choice for odd shaped vacant areas. Leave some “headroom” for expansion as the water freezes.

6. Switch to using as many manual appliances as you can. Plain old hand operated can openers, knives and toothbrushes save a lot of electricity!

7. One modern electric appliance that will save is the microwave – BUT, don’t automatically assume a microwave will save electricity. For instance, if you need to bake ten potatoes, it takes less time than in a conventional oven.

8. If you use an electric stove, use all the heat. Turn off the burners and oven a few minutes before food is through cooking. Or, if you’re heating other foods there’s plenty left to do the job after you turn off the burner. Remember, it’s not the stove that cooks (or warms) your food. It’s the heat.

9. If you drink tea or coffee throughout the day, use a thermos. You can save electricity if you make several cups at one time and keep it hot in a thermos than if you make individual cups, or even reheat in the microwave (the next best move.)

It takes some effort, yes, but the rewards will be worth it when you get your next bill and you’ve knocked off 10 to 20 percent, or even more.

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