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How to Save Power at Your Home
Have you ever received your electric bill and thought “what happened here?!” or “who used all that power?!” I have. Gone are the days when power was around 10c per Kw/h and your bill was a few hundred dollars. Depending on where you live, you may have peak, off-peak, summer, etc. rates. Well you know what? I hate to “give” money to utility companies. One of my pets hates it. I prefer to save energy. They bring in millions of your hard-earned dollars every year and when you need them most, there are power cuts in the summer and it’s 100 degrees in the shade! Or there may be “power cuts” while working on your PC or recording a TV show and it messed up what you were doing as your screen blanked out for a second. “The increasing load on our infrastructure” they say, “the demographic explosion creates a strong demand on resources” pushes the government. It’s time to fight! Stop “giving”!
Some of these tips are SO obvious, but do you think your kids know how to save energy? … or practice them?
Probably not. Train them too.
Here are some things you can do to save energy:
~ Turn off the light when leaving a room.
~ Turn powerpoint devices off when not in use. (yes, even a tiny bit of power is used when the PP switch is on)
~ Turn off the standby switch on your TV/stereo/video/DVD player when not in use as it consumes a lot of power in standby mode.
~ Ditch your incandescent bulbs and use energy saving bulbs (CFLs) – their cost has dropped in recent years and they last thousands of hours – a real no-brainer that many people use to save energy.
~ If your home has them or are considering them – LED downlights are a great substitute for halogen-type bulbs, use a fraction of the power, and are an attractive alternative to conventional room lighting.
~ Looking for new white goods? Check out their “star” rating for energy efficiency.
~ Front-loading washing machines use less energy than top-loading machines, and most modern units simply use cold and hot water on their own when needed.
~ Do you have a dryer? Only use it if you have to hang your clothes (or better yet, have the kids do it!)
~ Insulate your home – your roof space is a critical area to keep warm in the winter and cool in the summer as well as draftproof windows and doors. Do you have old sash windows? These are very drafty, so a reasonable solution is heavy curtains or replacing them – go for the extra expense of double-glazed or laminated windows. Your energy savings will pay off in the long run.
~ Use thick roofing and wall mats if possible. Or choose an alternative – insulation made from recycled paper can be “pumped” into your roof or wall space. I used it in the roof of my daughter’s room and it made a huge difference. I ended up getting it for free from the government and the result was 2 great things – I was able to save energy and my favorite – save money!
~ Seal any voids that may exist on the exterior of your home, such as window and door architraves, eaves and loose tiles.
~ Set your air conditioner to 75-80 instead of 65-70 in the summer. If you have a split air conditioning system, make sure your inverter or compressor is housed in the shade or in a cooler area if possible. A great system I saw once was a very high pressure misting device used near the inverter to cool the area around it using the “latent heat of vaporization” used in some greenhouses. A great way to save energy in your home because it doesn’t have to work as hard.
~ Water heater. Set them to 140 – 150, this will be fine for adults and reduce them to 120 – 130 if you have children. Turn it off if you’ll be away for a while. H/W solar systems are great, but absolutely must face north. Depending on where you live and how much sun you get per day, you will still need to use the H/W boost on short winter days and obviously on cloudy days too. “Heat pumps” are a relatively new innovation that uses latent heat in the atmosphere to heat your water as well as a “reverse air conditioner” to heat water on cool days or to your desired temperature. Just had 1 installed and it’s fantastic + amazingly cheaper to run than my old H/W solar system! What has this system done for me? Another chance to save energy – 1 of my favorite hobbies! They’re expensive but I feel really good because it’s energy efficient AND I use rainwater for it – win-win.
~ Kitchen. Your microwave oven is an efficient energy consumer because it only cooks your food compared to just heating your conventional electric oven. But, try to avoid using it to defrost anything – plan ahead and let nature do it. If you can upgrade, get a fan-forced oven, as they are also more efficient. Try to use wise practices like using a lid on your pots and pans. If you are a carnivore, you can use other methods of cooking once in a while, like barbecue and if you don’t have 1 – go out and get a kettle oven. They are fantastic, the flavor is to die for and you have many options to use for fuel like briquettes, charcoal, wet and dry wood etc. Bonus – it’s a way to save energy and money.
~ Solar energy. An expensive option for sure. Those who claim it can be done cheaply are probably pulling your leg. Get a working system for $200? I would doubt the quality of such a system. We all know that going this way could take a significant chunk out of your wallet if you want to take a significant chunk out of your electricity bill. But you have to weigh the pros and cons. Do you live in a particularly sunny area? Are you handy enough with the right tools, materials, and know-how to build your own solar panels and install the grid and infrastructure? Or do you do it professionally? Do you just want to save energy or will your system have the ability to run your meter backwards? Grid feed rates vary greatly depending on where you live and are a great incentive. Another thing, if you are lucky enough to have a shed, workshop or barn with a separate electricity meter, then this is a great opportunity to generate your own energy just to make money off the tariffs redemption and also help your community.
~ Wind energy. There are many different turbine systems and designs on the market and again can be built by the home DIYer from kits or from scratch. Obviously, power generation depends on the consistency of the breeze in your locality and if that’s not quite up to par, combining them with a solar powered system could be an option. Scour weather and other sites to determine if it is viable to power your home by these means.
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