Electricity is getting expensive, largely driven not only by natural increases in the cost of producing electricity but also by those increases caused by Government “penalties” introduced by Green Tariffs and the roll out of Solar and Wind power, therefore it makes sense to look at ways of actually reducing your Electricity bill, and this ultimately means reducing your electricity usage.
The electrical appliances which use the most power are Electric Heating Appliances, such as Electric Immersion Heaters, Electric Boilers (Electric Wet Heating), Convector Heaters, Fan Heaters, Cookers, Electric Ovens, Tumble Dryers, Washing Machines, Dishwashers and Electric Showers. Whilst avoiding the use of such Electric Heating Appliances altogether will be impossible, using them during the periods where cheaper Electricity Tariff’s are in force, is likely to save considerable amounts of money. Many Utility companies in the United States have cheaper periods of Electricity and in the UK, tariffs such as Economy 7 and Economy 10 exist, so if you are fortunate enough to have access to these periods of reduced Electricity rates, then it is a good idea to time high consumption appliances to operate during these periods.
Showers and Domestic Appliances
Even reducing the length of time during which high consumption appliances are run for will save money, for example, a typical 9.5kw Electric Shower will consume almost 1 unit of Electricity for every 6 minutes that it is in use. By simply having a 6 minute shower instead of a 10 minute one will nearly halve the Electricity cost, and if you shower twice a day, over 7 days per week, that is 7 units of Electricity saved over the course of just one week – which is the equivalent of lighting two household rooms with low energy bulbs all week!.
Most laundry can be cleaned using the short wash feature on modern machines, and thanks to new washing powder developments, everyday soiled clothing can be cleaned at 30c or 40c instead of 50 c or 60 c. In the UK appliances come with ‘Energy’ ratings – always choose an Electrical Appliance with an ‘A’ energy rating, always run full loads of laundry and use shorter wash cycles at lower temperatures. Avoid the use of Tumble Dryers, or minimise their use by drying laundry outside, and you can even buy portable indoor laundry dryers which dry at a fraction of the cost of using a traditional tumble dryer.
Many people think that household lighting isn’t likely to cost a lot in Electricity, but you would be surprised at just how much it can cost, especially during the darker winter months when you can have several rooms lit throughout the house for anything upto 10 hours per day.
Not all lighting is energy efficient either, if your household has those small recessed halogen spotlights, then these can use a frightening amount of Electricity as each bulb can be rated at anything upto 35 to 50 watts of Electricity, and these are often fitted in multiples, so effectively a row of six of these halogen spotlights, fitted in a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom or hallway can consume 300 watts of Electricity, if you have more than one room fitted with these, it can soon add up to over 1 kilowatt of Electricity, and that is 1 unit of Electricity per hour, and where run for several hours per night this can easily account for a lot of the non heating element of your electric bill.
Equally some wall lights and uplighters can use halogen tubes and capsules which can consume quite a fair amount of Electricity and should, ideally be avoided.
You can replace these types of lamps, by choosing table lamps and decorative lighting and using conventional low energy lamps, and thanks to modern designs, it is possible to find warm light compact fluorescent bulbs rated at 12w – 20w, which can give enough usable warm comfortable light in which to do the same household tasks as you did using the 300w worth of halogen downlights, with the added advantage that you dont have the intense glare and are saving a large amount of Electricity.
If it is not possible to replace the halogen spot lights and halogen downlighters with conventional table lamps, then you can buy low energy replacements for both MR16 and GU10 which use LED and Compact Fluorescent technology to directly replace the halogen bulb. These are rated at anything between 3W for the LED version to 11W for the CFL version and both of these options can be used to replace the 35w or 50w MR16 / GU10 halogen lamps, with a significiant saving in Electricity costs.
Again, many householders overlook these appliances as being contributors to high electricity bills, but just like lighting they can represent quite a large chunk of everyday electricity usage, especially as many family households may have multiple instances of these running throughout the house at any time, and are often used for long periods of time, during holidays and weekends.
The most economical TV set / Computer Monitor is LCD / TFT technology, the worst from an energy using prospective is a Plasma design as these use quite a fair amount of electricity. On average, a 40 inch LCD TV Set will consume around 170 Watts of Electricity, and a 21″ widescreen TFT computer monitor will use around 65 Watts of Electricity. In comparison a 40″ Plasma will use around 300 Watts of Electricity and some 50″ models can consume as much as 500 watts.
X-Boxes and Playstations also use a surprising amount of Electricity, especially older models. An average Xbox will consume around 180 watts of power, whilst older playstations can gobble as much as 260 watts. The most economical games console by far, is the Nintendo Wii, which uses less than 50 watts of Electricity Consumption.
By themselves, non of these electrical entertainment appliances sound like they will contribute much to the household energy bill, however if you total up the number of such appliances in the average family household, where teenagers may have a TV and Xbox each, and there may be as many as three or four TV’s and one or two PC’s in use throughout the household at any one time then it all adds up and play a part. Especially where children are concerned, who all seem to have the Xbox, TV and PC all running in their room at the same time, and probably left running all weekend.
A standard PC will use around 90 watts of Electricity with a futher 65 watts for the monitor (21″ TFT as example), in contrast even a modern dual core laptop will consume less than 40 watts, with many older models consuming less than 25 watts, even whe charging a flat battery!. So as far as electrical consumption is concerned a laptop is a preferential choice over a full size PC and seperate monitor, saving as much as 100 watts in Electricity.
Other methods of saving Electricity are to switch off appliances left on stand-by, not only are unattended electrical appliances a fire risk, but they are a needless waste of energy, and even this can save you £30 a year in wasted Electricity across several TV’s and household goods.
Also look at enternal lighting, as many households use halogen floodlights with 300w – 500w lamps on P.I.R sensors which can be triggered by high winds or passing animals, ensure that these are set up properly, set to a short period of time and the sensitivity is adjusted to the correct level to prevent false triggers. Better still, look at replacing these 300w / 500w lamps with long life energy saving replacements.
It should be a routine to compare prices from different Electricity Providers in order to ensure that you are on the most competitive tariff for your household. The quickest and easiest method of doing this is to use an Energy Comparison Website, which will check all of the energy companies’ and the very latest tariff’s in order to make sure that you get the best deal. Simply taking 5 minutes to do this can save even the average household over £300 a year.