Top Tips For Reducing Running Costs

There are so many power-hungry appliances out there in the world, with a lot of the older model appliances being the major culprits. Many of them are 10 years old or older. But, newer appliances offer more than just good looks. They offer power savings that translate into lower energy costs. Even still, there are ways to further reduce your energy consumption and only pay for devices you’re using.

Avoid Leaving Appliances On Standby

Energy companies, often recommend unplugging appliances that you’re not using. An alternative to this is to purchase a “smart power strip” that automatically shuts off all power to your devices, and can selectively power down devices while keeping others in “standby” mode (i.e. you may want some appliances with clocks to remain on).

Some things, like T.V. sets, have a “phantom draw” that still uses electricity even when the device is in standby mode and not being used. That means you’re paying for a device you’re not using. Ouch.

While some critics argue that phantom power draw is a myth or overblown, Dr. David Schmidt from the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences not only confirmed that it is real, but that it could potentially affect your electric bill.

Schmidt ran an experiment where he plugged in 4 laptops, 2 cell phones, 2 iPads, a Nook, a Nexus, and an iPod into the same power strip. He connected all devices to their respective chargers. Then, he used a Kilowatt meter to measure the amount of electrical draw these devices had.

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With the devices all plugged in and “awake,” the devices drew 195 watts. With the devices charging, but in sleep mode, they drew 150 watts. With the devices connected, in sleep mode, and fully charged, they drew 8 watts.

With the devices unplugged, the chargers alone still drew electricity, but only about 1 watt or less, collectively.

And, while 8 watts isn’t much, it’s enough to impact your electric bill. This is especially true if you have a habit of leaving everything plugged in while you’re at work or while you’re asleep.

And, remember this is just for a few small electrical devices. The draw will be larger for larger appliances.

Keep The Freezer Full

Keeping the freezer at the coldest setting, and packing it full will actually lower your costs because the volume of contents will stay colder longer, thus reducing the need for the freezer to kick on. Meanwhile, that cold air can trickle down into the fridge on top-heavy units, boosting energy-efficiency for the entire unit. Do not pack your fridge full, however, since refrigerators rely on circulating air to keep all contents at the same or similar temperature.

Run Appliances At Night

Running appliances at night may be beneficial if you’re on a tariff like Economy 7. Otherwise, there’s no need to wait until the sun goes down. However, if you are on a discounted tariff, this could make a huge and dramatic difference to your bill.

So, for example, if you normally do laundry on the weekends, try doing them on a Friday or Saturday night (if you are on a two-tier tariff scheme).

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Get Better Insulation For Your Water Heater

Water heaters are a surprising source of energy loss. An un-insulated water tank loses heat more quickly than an insulated one, which is why it’s really important to get the right insulation for it. Most heaters are electric, though a few are gas. Regardless, using energy to create heat in these units is expensive, so keeping them warmer for longer periods of time will reduce the cycling of the tank unit and lower your energy costs.

If you’re in the market for a new water heater, and you’re going electric, look for an “Energy Factor” equal to .93 or greater. This should yield a 5 to 10 percent savings compared to standard heaters. Alternatively, go the extra step and buy a tankless heater. These units save money by eliminating the tank and heating the water “on demand.” So, you only pay for what you use.

Maintain Your Air Conditioning Unit

Your home’s air conditioning unit can be a major source of energy waste. A window unit can use up between 200 and 650 kWh per month, a heat pump can use 600 to 1,800 kWh a month, and a central air unit can use 300 to 900 kWh a month.

To keep the unit from burning through too much of your bank account, have a professional check your unit at least once a year. Close the vents in rooms you rarely use, and upgrade to a timed thermostat that switches off the air conditioning once the temperature outside gets cooler.

Upgrade Your Heating System

Most heating systems that are old rely on manual thermostat changes to save money. Whether you forget or not depends on your habits. But, even if you don’t forget to turn down the heat when you’re away, you’re still likely burning through more energy than you need to.

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One reason for this could be that your thermostat is placed near windows or on outside walls that aren’t properly insulated. A cold draft will keep the area around the thermostat colder than the rest of the house and keep the furnace kicking on.

Relocate the thermostat if this is the case. While you’re at it, get a digital one that can be set to automatically adjust the temperature. Seal and insulate your home’s ducts, make sure nothing is blocking the vents, and replace filters on a regular basis.

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