Unplug it: How to start lowering electric bill now
(WJW) — While inflation continues to drain the life from our bank accounts, there are some ways homeowners can soften the blow when that electric bill arrives in the mail.
Energy vampires are lurking in homes but can be vanquished by simply unplugging common household appliances, specifically the gadgets that use up the most energy, or kilowatt-hours.
One watt is the basic unit of measure of electric power. One thousand watts are called a kilowatt.
For example, when you use electricity to power a 100-watt light bulb for 10 hours, you use 1,000-watt hours, or 1,000 Wh, of electricity. One thousand watt-hours equal 1 kilowatt-hour, or kWh.
kWh is what you’ll see on your utility bill, showing what you are charged for the kilowatt-hours you use.
The national average for electricity consumption is about 1000 kWh/month, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Using a simple formula to determine how many kilowatt-hours a device is using in a month or year can steer you toward which devices to unplug, saving you money.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has found that an appliance constantly taking in 1 watt of electrical current is equivalent to 9kWh per year, adding up to $1 in annual costs – basically $1/watt/annual.
Those costs can quickly add up to $100-200 a year.
Common appliances to start unplugging today
In the kitchen
Coffee makers use 1-3 watts even when turned off. Add that to your microwave, small kitchen television, toaster oven, and other unused appliances saving around $10-20 per year.
In the living room
Older set-top cable boxes and DVRs are constantly draining energy, anywhere from 25-45 watts of energy when off.
If you hook up your entertainment center and other living room appliances to power strips or an outlet with a wall switch, then you can easily switch the whole system off when you need to.
In the home office
Even after your work is done, laptops and PCs continue to suck energy and rack up wattages – around 15-21 watts when idle. Inkjet printers and fax machines also add to the cost, so use a power strip in your home office, much like in the living room, and flip them off when not in use.
Turning off even one device alone can save around $20.
In the bedroom
It’s no secret that space heaters can spark a fire but they also drive up energy bills. Consider fixing leaks and or adding insulation instead of using pricey space heaters.
Other ways to save
If unplugging appliances is leaving you feeling empowered to start saving some big bucks, there are some other energy-sucking areas of your home that you might want to address.
Although the Department of Energy recommends getting a professional home energy assessment, a do-it-yourself energy assessment can help you quickly identify some quick fixes.
The department says you could potentially save 10% to 20% per year by reducing drafts in your home. And as a bonus, you won’t need to reach for the couch blankets as much either. Check air leaks indoors including gaps along windows and baseboards or around lighting and plumbing fixtures. Seal them with the appropriate material like caulk and weatherstripping.
Energy for lighting accounts for about 10% of your electric bill. Consider replacing inefficient bulbs with a more efficient choice, such as LED bulbs or energy-saving incandescents.
Read more tips on the Energy Saver heating and cooling page or find out more ways to reduce electricity and costs here.
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