Save Money on your Electric Bill
This is one area where a person can save money in astronomical proportions every month. In my home of 5 children with 1 wife at about 3500sqft we took our electric bill down from $500 a month to about $100 a month (sometimes its $50-$60 a month!!!).
There was no huge secret way to do any of this. In fact, it's just a matter of using a bit of brains and a bit of brawn together. I found it very easy.
There are many things you can do. The most important rule of thumb on any type of money savings is the old rule "A penny saved is a penny earned". You have to count every single thing that you save. A bit here plus a bit here equals 2 bits. It honestly adds up. The first thing I would suggest to anybody is the easiest then I'll move to a few harder and more expensive things.
Incandescent lighting is one of the most insufficient ways to give yourself light in your home. For those unfamiliar, incandescent lighting is where you have "Regular light bulbs" with the bubble of air around it. These bulbs literally suck power. Think of a ceiling fan with 4 x 60 watt bulbs in it. I had one in my living room just like this (it looks like 4 flowers coming out of the fan unit). Well these lights we had on for 5 days a week.
This equates to 60W X 4 Bulbs = 240 Watts.
Since a Kilowatt hour is measured by 1000 watts, and is also the way the electric company bills you (price per KWh on your bill) you can figure how much these 1 single light fixture costs you per day and per month. This is simply done by multiplying the total wattage of the bulbs, by 5 hours and then by the price of the current charge per KWh. 240 X 5 / 1000 X .11 (my cost per KWh) You must divide by 1000 because the cost is per 1000 watts hence Kilowatt.
This fixture costs me $.132 or about 13 cents per day.
I know I know big money right? Please don't laugh yet!
Because .132 cents per day is more per month since you must multiply by 30 days (average days per month).
$.132 X 30 = $3.96 per month just to run 1 single ceiling fan light fixture! Now consider in every room you may have a ceiling fan with multiple lights, lamps, and misc bulbs. My bathroom had vanity lights that had 8 round 40w vanity bulbs!!!! You can literally spend $40-$50 per month on lights alone. Always watch for lights!
There is a great solution for this though. It's called Compact Fluorescent bulbs. These bulbs look like corkscrew lights and produce and equivalent amount of lumens (Light power) for a fraction of the wattage. They produce the same lumens that a typical 60W bulb does at 13W!!!
13W X 4 Bulbs X 5 hours = 260W per day. The power used is 260W per day / 1000 X @ .11 = .028 or close to 3 cents per day.
This is a net savings of nearly $.10 per day.
Per month this is .028 X 30 (average days per month)
$.858 cents rounded to $86 cents per month.
The price difference for running Incandescent Bulbs vs. Compact Fluorescent on 1 SINGLE fixture is $3.96 - $.86 = $3.10 cents of savings per month on 1 single fixture. Please don't forget the fact this is 1 fixture only. Multiply this by all of your lights in every room, bathroom, garage etc.
It really adds up. Use compact Fluorescent bulbs everywhere in your home. They will pay for themselves very quickly. It's saves power too (Less coal or nuclear waste) and is much greener for our world. Everybody wins. You save money, you help save the Earth.
Here's a power hog in its worst. Did you know that most common electric water heaters cost you nearly $45 - $60 per month? Most people don't know this. This is $45 - $60 just for HOT water (not including water price). This is figured because on the water heater there is a sticker that tells the annual KWh usage. Most water heaters have an annual KWh rating of about a minimum 5000 KWh per year.
This is the simple math of a water heater's electricity consumption.
The power used is 5000KWh / 12 months = 416.6 KWh per month.
The nationwide average per price of electricity is .13 cents per KWh
The math is simple. 416.6 X .13 = $54.14 per month! Unbelievable! Many people do not know that something as simple as hot water costs them so much!
There is a nice and simple solution for this. It does take a bit of plumbing and electrical skills for the do-it-yourself or you'll need a plumber and electrician.
The solution is called Water on demand. This is a system that uses very high power but is switched on ONLY when hot water is needed. It heats the water as you go and you will never run out of hot water. I put a logging electric meter on ours with 5 kids and 2 adults and we use about $6.80 per month in hot water power! Our previous tanked water heater used $56.00 of power almost every month!
Here was part of the installation - look how much space it saved us too!
Here was the start of the project. Here is the big ugly water heater in the corner. What a power waster! What a space taker!
I turned off the water heater breaker to avoid doing the "electric shock dance" and unhooked the wires. First I tested with a power meter!
Sorry for the mess, this thing was in our pantry. I turned off the water and attached a garden water hose to drain the water out of the heater.
Here I unscrewed the wall outlet exposing the electrical wire. Uh oh, this wire was meant for only 30 AMPS! The water on demand requires 60 AMPS! Uh oh, now I have a wire job to do.
I opened up the breaker box (of course it was far away and could not be simple). I removed a 30 AMP circuit breaker and unscrewed the wiring. Notice it missing in the middle. It was a double pole at 220v.
I removed the old wiring up in the attic down to my box, however, in the center wire access hole it was so tight, I had to go through an alternative access hole. This 60 AMP wire is BIG and heavy duty. I busted out a bit of drywall (patched later) and installed the 60 amp breaker and new wire. This step took a couple hours of crawling through the attic and running it.
Here I was unhooking the water heater. On the heater there were 3 pipes. 1 cold in, 1 hot out, and this over pressure release pipe that is basically a drain if your water heater gets too hot and it lets out the pressure. I won't need this anymore because the water on demand does not store water.
So to keep things neat, I capped the stub off.
Here is the 60 AMP wire coming out of the wall. In my home this was tough to get to. I didn't know my arm could stretch as far as it did between walls!
This was a big step. I mounted the water on demand system, soldered on 3/4" pipe to the 1/2" pipe fittings on the heater. I curved back the pipes from the original water heater (flexible) to go to the right fittings. Also because I wanted to over achieve I installed a pull out switch box.
This is near the final product. YOU MUST keep the metal coverings over the wires to keep a ground. YOU MUST ALSO keep your cold water in pipe grounded. I had to do a few drywall patches (still wet in photo) and paint.
Afterwards when the drywall patches were all dried I came back with a good coat of paint.
I flipped on the newly installed 60 AMP circuit breaker and watched the LED light up green on the water heater. I turned the temp to medium and went into the bathroom (okay I admit with my fingers crossed after all this work) and turned the hot water on. Two nice red "HEATER" LED's lit up along with the green one. The hot water started flowing! YAY!
I turned off the water, went into the bathroom and turned on the shower. HOT steaming water came out with it on full blast.
I turned the shower off, went back to the heater and measured the standby power. Bingo, it didn't even take 1 watt while off! It turns on automatically when hot water is needed. The other heater would sit there using 13,690 watts a day! It was costing me about $56 a month. This new heater costs about $6-7 a month.
My savings in total is around $50 a month with this heater.
The added bonus is now I have more storage for cooking tools to save me even more money!
They are two appliances that one almost simply can't do without- the washer for keeping our clothes clean and the dryer for drying making them nice, soft, and dry. Few people understand though the massive power consumption of the DRYER in particular. There is a reason it needs a 220v plug. It's because this monster power hog needs a lot of juice to keep warm, spin clothes, and throw your indoor air out doors so that your home won't fill with moisturized air along with micro fibers of lent.
Dryers are inefficient to say the least. With our washer and dryer, it's really a love hate relationship. I hate to use them, but sure are glad we can and do! The trick to saving real power with a washer and dryer is to make sure your clothing gets as dry as possible as quickly as possible. Believe it or not, this really points towards the washer.
If you buy a cheaper top load washer, it's only going to spin your clothes at about 400 - 500 rpm. We literally INVESTED in a Tromm washer and dryer set that spins at 1350RPM. Our clothes come out "barely damp" from our washer and only take about 10 minutes to dry. The spinning has everything to do with how quickly the clothes dry.
If I could do it the guy way, where I don't care if my set matched, I wouldn't have bought such an expensive Tromm dryer. The washer was a must though. The thing cost nearly $1500 and has been worth EVERY cent. Sometimes you have to spend money to make/save money. Plus the thing literally cleans our clothes 10 times better than a standard washer. As for the Dryer, the brand truly doesn't matter. The concept is generally the same. It heats up, blows air, and dries your clothes. If I could do it again, I would buy the $1500 clothes washer and a $300-$500 dryer.
The nice thing about the Tromm washer though is that we have implemented line drying on occasion. Growing up in the suburbs through the 80's to 90's we almost never used anything like a clothes line unless our Dryer was broken. My wife and I gave it a good honest try. We were sure to wash the clothes at the highest spin possible at 1350RPM. The clothes coming out barely damp we hung on a line. To our surprise, the clothes that dried outside did not stick, nor were stiff. They just smelled good and felt medium soft.
Wow, what a way to save. No dryer really needed unless the weather is bad. It really wasn't all that much trouble at all. I was actually thrilled and relieved how well the clothes did outside. When I was a child when our dryer broke, the clothing we dried outside seemed to turn to cardboard. In fact, if I recall, my brother and I got into a jeans fight whacking each other with our stiff jeans! Well, I'm happy to report, with such a fast spin cycle, most of the moisture is lost in the washing machine due to g-force and the clothes really dry well on the line (even when it's cooler out).
Being the home chef and also a power guy, I noticed how long the oven would remain on to cook numerous foods. The oven uses a 220v plug (immediate sign of a power hog) and I would sometimes leave it on for hours to slow cook foods etc. Well, I had no idea of what to do. So I researched how people cooked in other countries that did not have electricity. All I figured I would find is a bunch of tribes sticking meat over fire pits. Boy was I wrong.
This is how I met my new friend called "The Solar Oven". I read for a month before I decided to ever buy one. Needless to say after owning a solar oven, I am completely satisfied. The trick behind these is the black paint. Make sure there is flat black paint on everything. If your food is lighter colored put it in a black pot.
I've cooked pies, cakes, brownies, potatoes, chicken, chili, pot roast, veggies, cookies, corn bread, bread, bagels... wow the list really can go on and on.
All you do is put a solar oven in the sun, and let it sit there for about 20 minutes. Go make your food, come back, and stick it in. I kid you not this thing gets 300F no problem. Anything can cook at 300F.
Best of all this is FREE power, entertains the kids like crazy, and is really amazing to watch. It's kind of a strange thought to think that something that sits 8 minutes at light speed away is there boiling / cooking your food. It cooks your food with zero emissions, no pollution, and works very well.
I would suggest one of these to anybody that loves to bake, slow cook, or work with ovens in general.
Like to slow cook, just point the oven towards the sun. Leave it. Don't adjust. As the sun moves it becomes gradually more powerful then moves to less powerful. This makes your oven go from 300F to 250F to 225F. I've stuck a frozen chunk of pot roast meat, carrots, potatoes + spices in the sun like this. I left the house for 9 hours. When I came back that evening, I had steaming piping hot pot roast.
I suggest a solar oven to everybody not just for the power savings but because it just works so well. It never burns food, and works wonderfully. Solar ovens work well even when there is a 25% cloud cover.
I find the best way to pay for your utility bills, such as electric, water, and gas is to buy it on your cash back rewards cards. I put all my bills on my favorite card the Chase Freedom Card. It gives me 3% back on everything. If my electric bill is $100, it saves me $3 bucks! This is a very simple way just to save money. I pay them conveniently online, and am sure to pay it off every month to be sure not to be killed with interest. This is really one of the easiest ways to save money, just think about what you pay with!