Saturday, July 24, 2010


Reducing electricity usage and subsequently reducing the electricity bill mainly depend on where you live, how many members are in your household, the size, type and style of your home and your own experience. By adopting different tips into your lifestyle not only could you be saving your bill, you are supporting the environment. Additionally, electricity being a scares commodity, with your savings you let it to use who really in need of it. Thus you fulfill your responsibility as a responsible citizen.

Know the Power Consumption of the Equipment at Home:
In order to start with saving energy you need to get an energy audit done in your home so that you can find out where the money is going and what changes will make the most difference at your home. Once you know how much electricity you use for each of your lights, appliances and other items, you will find ways to cut your usage or electric consumption down . Of course you need the full cooperation all family members to make the venture a success.

You may use the following formula to calculate kilowatt hours (electrical units) used by your equipment:

(Minutes used x watts) Divided by (60x1000)= KWhr or Electric unit. OR

(Hours used x watts) Divided by 1000 = KWhr or Electric unit

Let us take the case of a lamp powered with 100watts. Say the lamp lights 8 hours in a day:
(8 × 100 watts) Divided by 1000 = 0.8 KWHr ( electrical units)

For a year the electric consumption of the lamp will be 0.8x 365= 292 units.

Now, what can we do to reduce the electricity usage in our homes? Let us start our efforts with the main players - say kitchen appliances.

Even though our refrigerator is ENERGY STAR rated, it uses more electricity than just about anything else in our house. A simple check of the fridge and freezer temperature reveal that someone had accidentally turned the freezer thermostat down much too far, so the freezer was running continuously, lowering the compartment temperature to -25C, well below the -15C required for short-term storage.

  • Check the refrigerator temperature regularly, to ensure that the temperature set knobs are set right - we are not unknowingly using more energy than needed to keep our food cool.
  • Avoid a lot of opening and closing of the refrigerator/freezer doors. A lot of cool air will go down or escape from the fridge while it is opened, and the compressor has to work extra time to maintain the temperature to the set level.
  • Switch off the running fan in the room before opening the fridge or freezer. Otherwise the moving air will sweep away the cool air from them while they are open, and force the compressor running for a very long time to bring the temperature down - end up with extra electric consumption!
  • If you have a freezer, identify the items stored in it. You will see that the freezer is only half full, and half of its content is of the ‘freeze and forget’ variety such as leftovers of old ice cream or dried fruits and vegetables etc. planned for later use. If you really compare the cost of keeping those items freezed you will see that similar items could be bought from the market at a fraction of freezing cost - use it or discard those items.
  • Ensure that the condenser coils are clean by vacuuming the dust accumulated around them for better heat transfer. Keeping the coil clean itself can save up to 25% of the electricity usage.
Avoid heat loss while cooking, whether using electricity or gas for the stove.
  • Use a cover for pan or pot while you cook anything. Not only does it prevent spattering but it keeps the heat where you want it - right in the cooking container. Besides, this will cook thing faster and you don't even have to put the stove on "High".
  • Maintain the pot or frying pan at the center of the burner. It sure helps in making things cook a lot faster.

  • Plan to use oven in such a way to cook the next cooking immediately after the first - while it is already heated. This will save energy for preheating.
  • Use microwave oven for cooking small quantities or heating up food. A typical microwave oven consumes 1.6 kW of electricity to produce 600 W of microwave power. However, the much reduced cooking times typically reduces power consumption by 50 – 70% compared to conventional ovens and stove heating elements.
Dish washer:
  • Turn off the "heated dry" cycle and allow them to air dry, if you have a dish washer with ‘heated dry’ system. Not only will it reduce your energy use, but in the summer it will also help to keep your home cooler.
Water heater:
  • Ensure to set the water temperature to 50C for efficient and economical operation of a water heater.
  • Insulate the hot water distribution pipes to reduce heat loss, and subsequent saving in electricity.
  • Minimize the length of hot water distribution pipes. Install small size water heaters in each bathrooms instead of supplying hot water from one bathroom to another.
  • Use, if possible, tank-less water heaters that supply hot water on demand. This will save up to 50% of your electricity cost as well as space in your bathroom. However, make sure to select the ones manufactured by reputed companies.
Install Automatic Timers:
  • Installing timers for your bathroom lights and fan. Many people walkway from bathrooms leaving the lights and exhaust fan on for hours. Installation of a timer will switch off the lights and fan after the set time.
  • Install timers and/or level switches for the domestic pumps to avoid overflowing water and saving electricity.
  • Install timer or photo switch for outside lights to light only at night. Leaving the outside lights on or forgotten to switch off in daylight is not unusual in our homes.

  • If you are planning to change your TV, change with LCD screen. This uses 30% less power than plasma screen TVs. Flat screen TVs use more power than the old cathode-ray tube TVs. On an average, the power consumption of a cathode-ray screen is 3.4 watts per screen inch, while plasma uses 9.4watts per screen inch.
  • Pleasure of a TV screen that goes on instantly – keeping the screen warmed up - costs up to 440 units/year.
  • Convenience of a flashing DVD player clock costs 88 units /year

Air Conditioners:
  • Inspect the AC units or the heating system for its efficiency before the start of the season.
  • Make sure the gaps around the units, doors, windows etc are sealed off or weather stripped.
  • Keep the doors and windows closed while operating AC units.
  • Ensure to shade the windows with drapes or blinds. Uncovered glass windows will heat/cool the room.
  • Shading the walls with trees is also advantageous to reduce power consumption of AC units.
  • Set your thermostat to the required minimum. Make a note that for every degree of temperature lowering or rising costs you a 3%.
  • Use energy efficient new air conditioners for energy saving.
The devices we consider as minor will consume a lot of power in the long run:
  • Keep the devices unplugged if not in use. In most of the homes we could see the DVD player, television, computer, mobile chargers, power supply bars, coffee maker etc are plugged in 24X7 but only used for a couple of hours a day. Each of these devices (at least the versions we own) draws 2 to 10 watts, sometimes more, of continuous power. If, say it is 15W constantly the annual consumption of power will be around 130units.

  • Ensure to unplug charging units when not in use. Studies show that cell phone chargers plugged in to the outlet will continue to draw power even if they are not connected to the phones. We have a habit of leaving the devices plugged in even if it is not being used or even already charged. These include laptops, cell phones, computer peripherals etc.
  • Use bar with built-in surge protection will not only protects your equipment from damaging power spikes, but also cuts all power to the devices when you turn it off. We use a lot of AC adapters at home without knowing or ignoring the power consumed by them.
  • Digital clocks must be drawing a small amount of power to keep the clock running. This may only be half a watt but more often these are in 1to3 watt range. These may consume 9 to 27 units a year.
  • Remote controls of equipment such as TV, DVD player, stereo, fans, ACs etc is really using some energy waiting for the signal to go on. It may add up to 9kwhr per year.

  • Shut off computer screen while not in use. 60 % of the power used from a computer is used by the display screen; the other 40 % is used to keep your hard drive spinning and to power the electronics.
  • Buy an ENERGY STAR rated computer. Personal computers that are made with cheap power switch will not cut power to the power supply even if the computer is shutdown; it disconnects the computer only. This means the power supply is continuously powering from the power source.
  • Turn off lights while you are not in the rooms.
  • Remove some of the bulbs from the ceiling fixtures, if several ceiling lamps are controlled from one switch.
  • Use more energy efficient lights for the ones used for many hours. A 15 watts CFL can often supply as much light as a 100 watt incandescent bulb. We will have a saving of 85% power.
  • Use dimmer switches for both lights and fans to reduce power consumptions.

Security Lights:
Installing infrared sensor security lights in your backyard which trigger them ‘on’ when a person is nearby will reduce power consumption. Motion - or infrared - activated switches are light switches that sense movement or the body heat of a person entering a room and turn the current on.

Be Vigilant and Check back:
Now, with all your efforts and team work of all the family members, say you got your electric consumption brought down to 5 kwhr/day. Everybody is happy and pronounce proudly ‘we have achieved the goal’. But then everybody relax and stop focusing on our use, it start to rise again. Constant vigil is required for a long term result.

Replacement of Equipment:
When it comes time to replace any of your appliances, be sure to choose energy efficient types. You can check the efficiency of the appliances by reading the EnergyGuide label on the front of the appliance.

For most of us the best buy of an appliance is with the lowest price. It is not exactly right. You must realize that the cost of an appliance really depends on three things: the purchase cost, maintenance cost and the operation or/and the energy cost. Even if two models look the same, certain features can mean a big difference in your energy bills.

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