Reduce Your Solar (or Non-Solar) Power Bill by Doing Almost Nothing
Often times when buying a solar array, customers will tend to shoot for slightly less production than they need, so as not to overspend. When given a choice between a 97% offset and a 103% offset, most customers decide they'd like to opt for the former to save money. This choice, while an intelligent one, leaves a 3% dependency on the grid that their solar array apparently can't fulfill, and won't result in complete solar independence during daylight hours. Or so it would seem. You see, there are actually many ways that a home can easily cut down 5% or more of their energy usage completely passively, without having to change a thing about your daily routine. Even without a solar array, cutting off such a significant chunk of your power bill with no effort at all on your part definitely adds up overtime. But how is this even possible? First, we have to recognize the root of the problem.
Defined by Wikipedia as "electric power consumed by electronic and electrical appliances while they are switched off," Standby Power (or Vampire Power, as it has been aptly nicknamed,) is the number one inflator of electric bills. Many appliances that you are able to switch "off" are merely idle, and are still draining power straight from your wallet. Depending on how many of these devices you own, there's a good chance you could be losing $100 or more every year to standby power alone. To remedy this, many people have taken to using multi-plug power strips for their devices. In the case of most power strips, their "off" buttons truly do mean off, and don't drain any excess power just from being plugged in. Taking the time to flip a switch or unplug an outlet when you're not using the attached appliances will save you a substantial amount of power and money.
In 2014, incandescent light bulbs began to fade out of common use, but that doesn't mean there aren't still people out there using them. Many are unaware of how inefficient incandescent (and by extension, CFL bulbs) are compared to LEDs. According to Home Power Magazine, one LED bulb is equal to three CFL bulbs, and twenty-two incandescent bulbs. LED bulbs have the longest lifespan of any commonly-used bulb by far, not to mention their efficiency. LEDs average nearly five times more efficient than incandescent bulbs, and are also noticeably more efficient than CFLs- about twenty percent. There are many many more upsides to LED bulbs, such as their extreme durability when compared to other bulbs, but in short, LEDs are your number one option when looking at energy-saving bulbs. According to USA Today 2017 surveys, just by switching to LEDs, the average home can expect to save over $1,000 over a ten year period. Not only does making the switch save you money, it also saves you the effort of having to constantly replace your light bulbs!
According to calculations done by SFGATE, your average hot water heater can cost you $800 or more per year to run. Generally, professionals recommend you keep your heater's thermostat at a cozy 120 degrees Fahrenheit, so as not to over-heat your water and waste energy. If yours is already set to 120, fear not, there are still steps you can take to lower the amount of energy consumption caused by your heater. The simplest step you can take is checking what kind of water you use to wash your clothing. Unless you're trying to get something tough like oil out of your clothes, cold water functions nearly identically to hot water, and takes way less energy to use. 80% of a washing machine's energy usage is heating water, so if you don't need hot water, make sure you're not using it. Of course, this applies to everywhere else in your home, as well. Cold water is always the cheaper option, so make sure you're using it whenever you can, since the cost of heating really adds up over time.
There are plenty of other ways to help make your home more energy-efficient, such as making sure all of your doors and windows are free of draft, regularly changing your air conditioning filters, and so on. Through my research I've found that the options listed above are the simplest and lowest effort, which really take hardly any time or expertise at all. Anyone can and should put these tips into action and save a decent chunk of their electric bill just by making a few smart, low-effort choices. If you follow some or all of these pointers, paired with a solar array, all of your energy needs will be completely covered.