Wiring Digest
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20 Ways to Reduce Your Electricity Consumption at Home and Save Money
Green Zone - Posted: 2011-06-19 15:14:04
Author: H. L. Williams

One of the purposes of this blog is to provide information on technology, practices and equipment that reduce electricity consumption and improve energy efficiency. Pursuant to this purpose, there are a number of articles posted under the section “Green Zone” that provide such information. Each article, however, tends to expound on one particular measure of reducing electricity consumption. So, one of the regular readers of this blog suggested that there should be a single article that lists some easy solutions for reducing electricity consumption at home.The reader’s suggestion was accepted, and here are 20 valuable tips for reducing your electricity consumption at home.

  1. Use the right size of air conditioner for the area that is to be cooled. Air conditioners that are too large or too small for the area they are supposed to cool will perform less efficiently and effectively than air conditioners of the proper size. Air conditioners should therefore be sized by a professional.
  2. Set your air conditioner thermostat as high as possible. The smaller the difference between the outside and inside temperatures, the lower the overall air conditioner energy consumption will be. I find a setting of 24oC or 25oC to be suitable.
  3. Avoid setting your air conditioner thermostat to a lower temperature than normal when you turn it on. It will not cool the area any faster, and could result in higher energy consumption due to excessive cooling.
  4. Consider using interior fans along with your air conditioner to circulate the cooled air more effectively through the area. This may allow you to raise the temperature setting on the air conditioner thermostat a few degrees and reduce energy consumption.
  5. Avoid placing any appliance that generates heat near your air conditioner thermostat. The thermostat senses this heat and keeps the air conditioner running at a high demand longer than necessary.
  6. Place the air conditioner compressor at the north side of the house, or shade it from direct sunlight. According to the Energy Savers Booklet from the US Department of Energy, a unit operating in the shade uses as much as 10% less electricity than one operating in the sun.
  7. Conduct regular maintenance on your air conditioning unit. Change the filters regularly; dirty filters restrict air flow, reducing efficiency.
  8. If your air conditioner is old, consider buying a new energy-efficient model with the ENERGY STAR label. Doing this can save you up to 50% on your cooling bill [Source: Energy Savers Booklet, US Department of Energy].
  9. Reduce solar heat gain in the house by (i) shading the south and west walls of the house from direct sunlight by planting trees or installing awnings; (ii) paint the walls and roof with light colour (preferably white) paint to reflect most of the sunlight and reduce heat gain. These measures would reduce your energy demand for cooling the house.
  10. For indoor lighting, use compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs - commonly called energy savers - instead of the incandescent bulbs. A good quality 20-Watt CFL can give you the same amount of light as a 75-Watt incandescent bulb, thus making the CFL over 70% more efficient. CFLs also last about 6 to 12 times longer, and produce about 75% less heat than incandescent bulbs. Using CFLs instead of incandescent bulbs will help to cut cooling cost.

    Avoid buying the cheap, poor-quality CFLs that would not give you the expected level of efficiency. Buy CFLs that carry the UL and ENERGY STAR labels.

  11. Use occupancy sensors to automatically turn off lights in rooms that are not in use. The occupancy sensor works by detecting the presence of a person in the room and then turning on the lights. It keeps the lights on until a pre-set time after the person leaves room. It is particularly suitable for situations where people forget to turn off the lights when they are the last to leave a room.
  12. Take advantage of daylight by using light-coloured, translucent curtains to allow daylight to penetrate the room and reduce electric lighting.
  13. For outdoor lighting, use CFLs in weatherproof fixtures or high pressure sodium lamps instead of the mercury vapour or halogen lamps.
  14. Use photocell switches to control your outdoor lighting. They automatically turn on and off your lights at dusk and dawn respectively. Using the photocell switches prevents the situation where someone can forget to turn off the lights during the day, which will result in the unnecessary use of electricity.
  15. Defrost manually-defrost refrigerators regularly; frost buildup reduces the unit’s efficiency.
  16. Ensure that your refrigerator door seals are air-tight. To test them, close the refrigerator over a strip of paper, leaving about half of the paper length outside the door. Pull on the paper. If it comes out easily then the seal may need replacing. Repeat the test at different parts of the door.
  17. When buying a new refrigerator, look for one with the ENERGY STAR label. Also buy a refrigerator that is the right size for your household; too big a refrigerator may consume more energy unnecessarily.
  18. When using a washing machine, always wash as large a load as possible. This reduces both water and energy use.
  19. Use cold water as much as possible when washing. This eliminates the energy consumption associated with heating the water.
  20. Unplug appliances that are not in use. Many electronic appliances use energy when they are turned off, but remain plugged in. As an alternative to unplugging, group related appliances together and power them from a power strip. When they are not in use, just turn off the power strip to totally de-energise these appliances.
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