Saturday, January 26, 2013

Saving Electricity

Previously I talked about getting to know your utility companies and utilizing the many benefits they offer.  Now I want to talk to you about saving electricity.

Most people still think that when they turn off their appliance that it doesn't use any more power.  This is no more correct than thinking that you can leave a battery in a Christmas cutsie item and because you have the item turned off that the battery will still be good the next year when you turn it on.  Even though you have the item turned off, the battery is still feeding power to it and in relative time the battery is drained of its energy.  Basically same principal with electricity with the exception that you won't run out of electricity after you leave an appliance plug in for a while.  However, you are wasting watts and that's costing you money.  

Because we are in such a techno savvy age, most electrical appliances, gadgets, etc., don't actually turn off when you turn them off.  They simple go into a sleep mode or what is commonly referred to as "standby power mode".  Older appliances that don't have this feature are actually still using electricity even when turned off.  The fact is that any device that is plugged in, even turned off, will still use electricity.

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory did a study of a multitude of appliances and devices in the "average" residential home and prepared a table of the wattage used when an appliance/device was in active use and standby use.  It can be pretty eye opening when you look at the big picture.  

First you have to understand electricity usage and how it's calculated. Per Berkeley..."Watts is a measure of power (technically, Joules/second) analogous to speed (miles/hour). So you need to convert the power into energy (like speed into distance). Here's an easy conversion factor: if a device draws 1 watt constantly for a year, then its energy consumption was 9 kWh. That corresponds to about $1.00.  So, when the chart says 5 watts, that's 5 x 9 = 45 kWh/year = $5/year.

The table shows you the average, minimum and maximum usage of common devices found in today's residential homes.  So, here's my challenge to you.  Print out the chart, or better yet, save the paper and refer back to the link in this post.   Grab some paper and do a room to room list of everything you have plugged in.  Everything.  Then go back and fill in the standby power mode average usage for each item.  Grab your trusty dusty calculator and do the math.  You'll be surprised at the number and remember it's only for standby power usage.  

By unplugging appliances, when they are not in use, you can save you anywhere from 15-20% on your electricity usage a year.  Take your average monthly electric bill and multiply it by 10%, 15% and 20% and see what you could be saving.  

For example, say your average monthly bill is $200.00.  Multiply that times 12 months ($200.00 x 12 = $2,400.00).  Now take the $2,400.00 x 20% = $480.00.  That's $480.00 that stays in your account and not in the account of your utility company.  

Obviously the more devices you have plugged in, the more you will save by unplugging them.  

Of course you can plug these items into a power strip and save electricity, however the strip is still drawing power so it is still costing you money.  Why not just be wiser and unplug it if it's not in use.  

Another good reason to unplug your electrical devices when they are not in use is safety.  According the U. S. Fire Administration:  

Residential appliance fires annually result in an estimated:
  • 9,600 fires
  • 25 deaths
  • 525 injuries
  • $211 million in property loss

Start making it a point to unplug your products when they are not being used.  Not only will you save money, but you will also be making your home a little safer.



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