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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Energy Savings 101

If you are like me then you hate your friendly electric utility and those nasty pieces of mail that they insist on sending you once a month called your bill. No matter how much you try to save on your electricity usage it never seems like it makes a dent in the ever rising bill. Downsizing your life to the point of living like a caveman (Sorry Geico) is not the answer to your electric bill woes. Burning candles for your lighting needs is not even remotely practical. Putting the kids on an electricity generating treadmill will only last as long as the sugar shockers they had for breakfast take to burn off. So what do we do for relief?

Take a survey of your home and look at all the light bulbs you have. Count the bulbs and write down the wattage for each bulb. Even if you don’t use that light in the closet you need to count it. It adds up quickly when you really do the math. Just in most bathrooms in the average house there are anywhere from two bulbs to an outrageous ten lights going on and off every time nature calls. Look around your own kitchen and amaze yourself with the amount of lights you actually have. Don’t forget the lighting over the stove in the vent hood! Out door lights that burn power all night long too!

Now that you have your list you can add up the wattage of each one of those bulbs. Write down the numbers seven and ten and next to that put down your last months electric bill. Put that piece of paper in a safe place that you can access it six months from now or even a year. Go to your storage bin or cabinet where you store that mega pack of replacement bulbs that you are constantly restocking. Let’s talk about saving cash on your electric utility bill.

Think fluorescent. Not like you are on a bad acid trip! Think lighting, think of soft serve ice cream cones on a hot summer day. Those funky looking bulbs you see all the time at Home Depot or Lowes. I’ll let you in on a secret, Walmart has the same bulbs that I’m talking about for almost half the cost but that will be our little secret. They had a deal the last few weeks where a three pack of 17 watt bulbs that will cost you about five dollars. Other brands are available at higher prices. Pick up a couple of different wattages in the fluorescent ice cream cone light bulb section. Sixty watts will run you about 15 to 17 watts electricity to run, 75 watts of the old bulb will run you about 23 to 26 watts to operate. Replace the old light bulbs with the equal fluorescent. Focus on replacing all of the old bulbs in the rooms you spend the most time in first and venture out from there. The cost up front is hard to swallow but if you buy them over the course of a couple of months it will not kill your budget.

The progress and long term savings of using these kinds of light bulbs will save you more money than you think. In six months to a year you can pull out that piece of paper again that you recorded the number seven and ten on, and what your electric bill was. Compare what the actual electrical kilowatt hours or KWH usage was in the same time period from six months or a year ago. If you converted half of the lights in your home you should see a huge savings. If you converted your entire home to compact fluorescent bulbs you should see an enormous savings.

Let’s get back to the seven and ten that you wrote down on your initial energy survey of lights. That is the average number of years one fluorescent bulb will last given normal usage. If you think about it, in one year’s time you have not had to replace even one fluorescent bulb. In seven years you may have to replace one or two, in ten to twenty years you may have to replace five. Looks like that storage area for replacement bulbs can be used for something more important like hiding the Oreo cookies from the kids!

There is a dizzying array of light bulbs on the market today -- bulbs that last longer, burn brighter, cost less to operate, are more environmentally friendly or cast a more natural light. Here's a basic guide to keep you out of the dark: - Washington Post


Send me your home energy saving tips and I'll post them here at Papamoka Straight Talk.

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Anonymous Birney Summers said...

I was searching for "energy saving" related blogs and found your wonderful creation.

Especially like your post on lighting.

Birney Summers
Energy Boomer

6:14 PM  

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