An electrical inventory is when a homeowner takes stock of all electrical appliances and gadgets that need to be plugged in. By going through each room of your home and identifying the multitude of electrical appliances and devices, it becomes clear just how much energy is being consumed. Once the electrical inventory is complete, a strategy can be developed to reduce unnecessary energy consumption, which in turn saves money. An energy reduction strategy can be broken into 3 steps:
1) REPLACE inefficient appliances & lightbulbs
2) UNPLUG all appliances and gadgets
3) REPLUG – use a power strip for all necessary electrical devices
Reducing Electricity Use
I. REPLACE INEFFICIENT APPLIANCES & LIGHTBULBS
As technology continues to change, there are increasingly more energy efficient options available for many everyday home appliances. Here are some examples of simple replacement options that require little effort and yield a large return on investment (ROI):
LIGHTBULBS: By replacing the old incandescent lightbulbs with light emitting diode bulbs (LEDs), a home can save energy and money over the lifetime of the lightbulbs.
The biggest benefit of LED lighting is its lifespan. An LED bulb will last approximately 50,000 hours — five times longer than a CFL bulb. If the bulb is left on for eight hours per day, it will last over 17 years. During that lifespan, an LED bulb will use 300 kilowatt hours of electricity. At 20 cents per kilowatt hour, the lifetime electricity cost of an LED bulb is $60. To compare, you would need five CFLs to match the 50,000-hour lifespan of an LED. Those five CFLs would use 700 kilowatt hours of electricity, costing $140. The LED bulb saves 400 kilowatt hours of electricity compared to a CFL and 2,700 kilowatt hours compared to an incandescent bulb. This represents a cost savings of $80 over CFL bulbs and $540 over incandescent bulbs.
APPLIANCES: Household appliances, including refrigerators, have a measurable effect on our energy bills. On average, the US home expends 8-15% of our energy budget on running the refrigerator. If your existing refrigerator is more than twenty years old, it probably makes sense to invest in a newer model. A new energy efficient refrigerator will save money and energy, but don’t forget to look for the EnergyStar label. This label will show you how much energy the appliance will use over its lifetime.
Lastly, it’s vital that you properly dispose of your old refrigerator properly so that the refrigerants can be contained and recycled. Contact your local solid waste disposal authority for more information on what to do with a refrigerator or freezer (this also applies to AC units) that is no longer serviceable. In many places, local utility providers offer a $50 cash reward for properly disposing of an old refrigerator and they may even pick it up at your home. If you’re going to get rid of it anyway, don’t leave money on the table. For a comprehensive list of rebates for energy efficient appliances in your location, contact your utility provider or product manufacturer.
A second method to reduce energy consumption involves unplugging certain appliances or components. These units may be “energy vampires” — devices that use unneeded energy while in standby or prolonged inactivity. It’s been noted that energy vampires account for 5% of a homeowner’s utility bill. Why pay for something that you’re not even using? Here are 4 steps to help you “unplug” and save money and energy:
1) Go through your home one room at a time looking for all items that use electricity. You should make a list of all the items that are plugged in and then determine which ones use the most electricity and which ones are used the most often. High-end electronics like game systems and televisions tend to use the most energy, as well as appliances like stoves and refrigerators. Just because something is not on does not mean it does not use electricity.
2) Unplug items you don’t use. If you notice on your list that you don’t use the blender more than once or twice a month, or that old VCR in the basement hasn’t been used in years, then those are perfect candidates for being unplugged. Also, camera and cell phone chargers should be unplugged when not in use. (Tip, cell phones and computers last longer when they’re not on a power source 100% of the time. It’s better to let the battery get low and then to recharge, vs. leaving them on a charger 24×7)
3) Go after the more high-electricity items. Your television and DVD player may be used frequently, but there is no reason why it can’t be unplugged before you go to bed.
III. REPLUG AND USE A SMART STRIP POWER STRIP
For the remaining electrical devices that are used frequently, it’s more convenient and energy efficient to use a power strip or smart strip. Phantom loads are created by devices that continue to draw small amounts of power, even when they are off or in sleep/standby mode. For example, did you know that monitors, printers, scanners, DVD players, televisions, cable/satellite boxes, PVRs, stereo amplifiers and other electronic devices draw as much as 70% of their total power even when they are in stand-by mode or switched off?
ENERGY STAR studies show that if every home office replaced all their computer equipment with an ENERGY STAR Certified version, it would save 219 billion pounds of greenhouse gases. By using the Smart Strip Power Strip™ on your existing computer system, you will save more than just energy and greenhouse gases. You will be keeping more computers out of the landfills. In fact ENERGY STAR studies also show that if there was no idle current drain on electronic devices in homes across the USA, 12 existing power plants would not be needed.