Simple Electricity Savings

"Can't anyone around here turn off a light when they leave a room?" Mary was clearly peeved. At this moment she was convinced that although all four members of the Smith family were capable of turning a light 'on', she was the only one with the ability and desire to turn them 'off'. And given their most recent electric bill she felt it was time to take some action.

"John, can't you and the kids be more careful about these lights? I just wrote a check for over a hundred bucks to the electric company. You guys could help a little you know."

Instinctively John knew that this wasn't the time to challenge his wife. In fact, he was concerned too when he heard that $100 figure. They hadn't even gotten into the summer months when the air conditioner added it's burden to the bill. "OK, Hon. I'll talk to the kids. But maybe we need to do a bit more than just turn off some lights."

The more John thought about it the more he realized that they just didn't know enough about their electric bill. So he took the time to do a little research. That Thursday evening he was reading some of the material he had collected when Mary came in from gardening.

"Sweetheart, I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that you were right about all the lights we leave on. I'm reading that we should be able to save about half of what we spend for lighting. But the bad news is that we only spend about 5% of our energy budget on light. So we can save about $2.50 per month.

"It says that you should turn off a light if you're leaving a room for more than ten minutes. Solid state dimmers are recommended and can save about 50% where they're used. That reminds me to check out some fluorescent lamps. This article says that they put out four times as much light per watt compared to incandescent bulbs."

Mary had picked up an article on how fans can help cut electric bills. "Boy, this is interesting. According to the Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation in New York, a two ton central air conditioning unit costs about $77 to run each month. Even a 10,000 BTU room unit costs $24 per month. I'd sure like to cut that part in half!"

Sitting down next to his bride, John peeked over her shoulder. "What's it say about ceiling fans? Sometimes I wonder if we're really saving much with them." Mary flipped through some pages until she found some info specifically on fans.

"Let's can use a ceiling fan to reduce energy costs two ways. They can be used instead of an air conditioner and will cooling costs by up to 80%. Fans can also be used with the air conditioner by raising the thermostat between 2 to 6 degrees F. Each degree can save 4% to 8% on cooling costs. So a 25% savings is a real possibility."

John quickly did the math in his head. "That would be about $19 a month. We should be able to save about $75 this summer without too much trouble. I wonder what else we could do."

"Here's another big user of electricity. Niagara Mohawk estimates that the cost to run an electric 52 gallon hot water heater is about $48 per month. Did you get anything about water heaters?"

"Sure did! Here we go. It says that we can save up to 40% by following energy conservation practices. Now what's an energy conservation practice?" John skimmed the material. "Got it! It says that we should drain a few gallons of water from the tank each month. Sediment makes the heating element work harder."

He read on. "Reduce the thermostat from 140 degrees to 110 or 120 degrees. Even if you have a dishwasher, it has a built-in heater to get to a higher temperature. This simple step could save you $45 each year." John continued skimming. "Water heater blankets...insulate hot water pipes...fix leaky's one we haven't considered. If you have a heat pump a waste heat recovery unit can save 50% of your hot water costs. The units run about $500. If we could save half of $48 each month in about two years it would pay for itself. We should check that out."

The Smiths began to add up the potential savings. It looked as if they would have between $100 and $125 each year without any real significant change in lifestyle.