5 Ways To Reduce Your Electric Bill and Help the Environment
This is a continuance of my previous article "Go Green and save on your Water Bill". As listed in the previous article, there are several ways to save money by going green. By doing so, you will also help improve our environment. I don't know about you, but I kind of like living in a clean world. I hope one day, my kids can live in one also. The main point of going green is not solely for our benefit, but for the benefit of generations to come. We don't want to be the ones left to blame for the demise of the earth do we? In this particular article we will talk about saving on our electric bill. We will discuss all the major forms of electricity that we use and waste every day without realizing it.
#1 Drafts and Weather Stripping
Every structure built has the possibility of sinking over certain lengths of time. It is very common for a structure to sink 1 to 2 inches over a period of 25 years. While that may not seem like much, it can have a direct affect on your pocket book. If a house sinks an inch on one side, that means it loses its' squareness. This in turn increases the gaps underneath our doorways and sometimes windows. Although there are limited ways to keep our houses from sinking, there are several ways we can seal up those creases and cracks with very little money.
ex #1 Twin Draft Guards
Twin draft guards are magnificent inventions. While they have been criticized for not being the best addition for a door you use a lot, they still serve valuable purpose for those less used doors and windows. What the Twin Draft Guard is, is a slotted piece of styrofoam that slides underneath the bottom of a door or window. When the door is shut you will literally not feel even the slightest breeze of air come in. When reading comments on the Twin Draft Guard, I will go ahead and tell you, you are going to see some comments about how it catches and how it's in the way. That may be the case if you use it on your main doorway. The fact of the matter is that most houses have at least 3 doorways leading outside. Omit the one for your main traffic doorway and use these on the other two less used doorways. Even by doing that, you are saving money. These are also great for windows. The best of all is that they are relatively inexpensive. They are usually in the "As Seen on TV" section in your local retail store for around $10. You can however get them online for around $6 or $7 a piece.
ex #2 Weather Stripping and Seals
We have covered how we keep the air from going in and out the bottoms of our windows and doorways, but we still have 3 other sides. So how do we limit that air flow? Weather Seals. Weather stripping has made leaps and bounds over the years from being thin layers of rubber that have to be caulked then lined up to nice different gauge sizes that have an adhesive tape back. You can get weather stripping at almost any retail or home improvement store. A general 17' roll will cost from $10-$12 unless you find it on sale. It can also be purchased online for around $7 a roll. Kinda seeing a pattern here? Stuff is just cheaper online. Weather stripping is easy to install. I recommend getting the adhesive backed stripping. All you need is a standard household pair of scissors. Line the stripping up against the area you want to seal and that's all it takes. These are very cheap and very easy to install. This will save you lots of money.
#2 Energy Star Light Bulbs
Lighting in our homes can take up a lot of energy and money. The average person spends over $60 a month on lighting alone. Energy Star light bulbs have been proven to last 10 times longer than the average light bulb. They use 75% less energy than the average incandescent light bulb and produce 75% less heat, making them ideal for any location, which also saves on your air conditioning costs. Energy Star light bulbs are said to save up to $40 on average during their lifetime. While you may spend only $3 or $4 on the average 4 pack of bulbs, you can expect to spend around $12 on a 6 pack of Energy Star bulbs. By calculation, just by buying the bulbs you will save at least $65 during the light bulb's life time and that's not counting the savings on your electric bill. If you calculate the estimated savings per month on electricity and add it to the costs of the bulbs, you can expect to save around $30 per month just by switching to Energy Star bulbs, which equals out to $360 a year.
#3 Unused Appliances
All of us have appliances plugged into power outlets that are not in use. All electrical appliances use energy whether or not they are in use. Electricity flows through the circuits of the appliance even when it is not running. While the energy is running through a cycle, it still is unused energy, that can be used for other things. This is a complete waste and serves no purpose. While this won't save you hundreds of dollars on your electric bill, it can save you pennies on the dollar. Think of all the appliances you have plugged in around your house that you don't use on a daily basis; lamps, dvd players, coffee makers, toasters, printers and phone chargers. Most all of us have these appliances plugged in, but only use them for a brief time during the day and leave them plugged in. This is the easiest practice to put into use because all you have to do is unplug them, an act that only takes a couple seconds. Make a list of all the appliances you have plugged in that are not in use and multiply that amount by at least 2 cents a day. Let's say you have 10 things that are plugged in and they are using 2 cents worth of electricity a day. If we multiply that 20 cents by 30 days it equals out to $6 that we could be saving per month. Like I said, not a big saver, but I'll gladly take that $72 per year savings if you don't want it.
#4 Natural Resources
ex #1 We all take our natural resources for granted. Sometimes we forget that we can turn the central heating and air conditioning off when it is a nice breezy fall day. There are approximately 2 months out of the year when most of the population shouldn't have to use our Central air units. We can eliminate 1/6 of our heating/cooling costs for a year by just lifting our windows.
ex #2 Another thing that most people do is keep their lights on 24/7 while we have perfectly good sunlight to light our rooms. I understand that not all rooms have windows, but most kitchens and bedrooms do. By only raising our blinds we can eliminate the need to turn on the lights in that particular room. My kitchen light is never on during the day time, because I can see just as well by the light of the sun. I know these examples seem like they won't save you a lot, but when they are all combined together, one could save 50 cents a day easily, which could save you $15 per month.
#5 Heating and Cooling
Most of our electric bill is derived from our heating and cooling costs. We all want to be comfortable and there is nothing wrong with that. We do however have several options that can help us save money and be environmentally friendly at the same time.
ex #1 Heating is a necessity in everyone's homes. During the winter we can eliminate a large portion of our electric bills by using space heaters. Space heaters have earned a bad label because they apparently use more electricity, but that isn't really true. While space heaters do use their fair share of electricity per amount of time they are running, they can definitely save on overall heating. If you are like me and spend most of your time in the living room or bedroom, then there is no need to heat the other rooms in your house. For example, if your house has 5 rooms and you only use two of those rooms, you can potentially save 60% on your heating costs by using space heaters. You can leave the thermostat on so it doesn't totally freeze your house, but instead of setting it to 70 or higher, try setting it to 60 and using a space heater in the room you are occupying at the time.
ex #2 Cooling our houses can cost just as much as heating them. The same goes for this as we examined in the heating example. We don't use every room in our houses. Ceiling fans can be our best friend when trying to save money during the summer time. Most houses already have ceiling fans, so this shouldn't cost you any money. If you don't have a ceiling fan, you can purchase one for $40 easily at any retail store. Aerating air is proven to be just as effective as many air conditioners. By only using a ceiling fan, you should be able to turn the thermostat up 4 or 5 more degrees and notice very little difference.
These are just a few examples that will cost you next to nothing to put into practice. There are several other ways to save that require one to purchase appliances such as a newer refrigerator or energy saving mechanism, but like I said, you will spend around $400 dollars on any such device. If you enjoyed this article and would like to learn more about how you can help our planet and save on your water bill, feel free to visit my water bill saving tips article.