Saving electricity: How to reduce your energy costs

How much electricity does your computer use? Your refrigerator? Your washer and dryer? Do you know how to save money on water heating costs? Michael Bluejay‘s guide to saving electricity answers these questions and more. Bluejay calls himself “Mr. Electricity” — the title is apt!

My guide on Saving Electricity gives you a bit more than you might get elsewhere. I explain exactly what a kilowatt hour is and how much you pay for one. And I show you how to calculate exactly how much electricity your household appliances use, so you know which items are guzzling the most juice (and which ones are the best targets for savings). You’ll learn exactly how to read your electric meter. (Find that on any other website!) Finally, I not only give you meaningful tips for slashing your electricity consumption, I give you the tools to figure out exactly how much you’re saving as well.

Bluejay recommends you attack the biggest energy users first: “You’ll save more electricity by dealing with the biggest electricity-guzzlers rather than worrying about items that don’t use much electricity.” Because appliances that heat and cool use the most energy, these provide the greatest opportunities for saving. For example:

  • If you use space heaters instead of central heating, you can save nearly $1200/year!
  • If you use fans instead of air conditioning, you can save about $600/year.
  • If you dry your clothes on a line instead of in a dryer, you can save $150/year.
  • If you wash your laundry in cold water instead of hot, you can save $150/year.
  • If you replace regular light bulbs with compact fluorescents, you can save nearly $100/year.
  • If you get rid of your television, you can save $75/year.
  • If you put your computer in sleep mode when you’re not using it, you can save $60/year.

For more on these numbers, including the assumptions behind them, check out the first page of the Saving Electricity site. This chart from the Department of Energy demonstrates average U.S. home electricity use in 1997:

Saving Electricity includes a wide range of infromation, including a look at how electricity companies charge you, a discussion of electricity myths (“There’s no power surge when you turn on a light. Turning the light off ALWAYS saves electricity, even if it’s for just a second.”), and more!

If you’re interested in cutting your electrical usage, Bluejay recommends the Kill-a-Watt electricity meter. This device measures how much energy an individual item is using, helping you to target the money sinks in your home. I plan to purchase one of these and review it in the next few months.

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