Monday, October 6, 2008

Hidden Electric Usage

In my last blog I wrote about the significant drop in our electric bill. I wanted to post today about some way that you can lower your bills also. When my husband gave serious though to our electric usage, he made some discoveries about our habits.

On a typical morning, Joe would wake up, turning lights and the TV on so that he could listen to it as he got ready for work. Often eating breakfast in front of the TV. Most days, the computer was also turned on so that he could download the emails. It was not unusual for the TV to remain on all day until we went to bed at night. Computer also was on all day. These were the easy usages to limit or eliminate. We no longer have electric lights, nor do we have the TV, DVD player, VCR, and radio. We use the computer alone for communication, news, weather reports, home business, and in the background, if we want music playing, we utilize the Window's Media player.

There are also many "hidden" usages that can be limited to lower your electric bill. If you have an electric water heater, think about the possibility of unplugging it or turning off the switch to it's plug at your circuit box when it is not needed. Our water heater is on a 220 circuit. The plug is in easy reach, so we keep it unplugged unless we actually need the hot water. The water heater runs for about 30 minutes, then shuts off as the water has reached the temperature it is set for. We unplug the water heater again once the water has been heated. By unplugging or switching off the circuit to the water heater when not in use, you are able to prevent the intermittent usage throughout the day & night. Your water heater comes on to heat the water, then shuts off. As the water in the water heater begins to cool, the heater will switch on again. This process goes on all day & night for as long as you have power going to the water heater. If no one is home during the day, the water heater is still heating water that you have no need for! How often have you gone on a weekend trip or a vacation and left the water heater plugged in or the switch still turned on in the circuit box? Who were you heating up the water for? All that usage was simply adding to your electric bill. You received no benefit from it! You can also help in saving money by making sure you have a water heater blanket wrapped around the water heater to help in keeping the water warm longer. For washing dishes or other small tasks, I tend to use the stove to heat the water. I find that the stove heats the water much faster, thus using less electricity. When the wood cookstove is lit, the hot water for cleaning is heated for free.

Any appliance that has a digital readout is drawing electricity even when not in use. Stoves with a digital readout clock, for example, is constantly using power to keep that clock displayed. While the energy usage may be small by comparison to other appliances, you are still using electricity in a constant flow to the stove.

In most homes, the only appliances that require a constant availability to draw electrical power is your refrigerator and freezer. Of course there are always exceptions, alarm systems, people with disabilities who have power chairs or other needs, will have additional circuits that need a constant availability for electrical usage. Most of us however, can simply shut off the circuits to unneeded appliances or unplug them if the plugs are placed in a spot that make it convenient.

In every family's home there are ways to cut back usage. Shutting off the computer and turning off the power at the surge strip, cutting off power to the water heater, and cutting off power to appliances with digital readouts makes a huge difference! You may be surprised at how much this simple thing can cut down your monthly bill.