Sunday, November 27, 2005

Conservation Elation

We just got our electric bill for the month of November. For the first time I can remember, it was under $40 -- only $36.29 (292 kWh for 31 days). Our daily electricity usage was about two-thirds as much as last November and only half as much as our daily October usage. How did I do it?
  • Installed compact fluorescent light bulbs in almost all fixtures. The only exceptions were the spherical bulbs in one bathroom and the chandelier bulbs in the dining room. The fluorescent chandelier bulbs I have found are too big for that fixture so I did the next best thing: unscrewed half of the six 25-watt bulbs. Thanks to a ComEd instant rebate, I bought ten 60-watt equivalent GE bulbs at Ace Hardware for only 99 cents each!
  • Switched from desktop to laptop. My Pentium 4 desktop PC finally died completely, and my Pentium M ThinkPad is much more efficient.
  • Turned off porch and foyer lights. My wife turns these on when she leaves for work. I turn them off when she drives away. Porch lights only invite solicitors, and I don't even answer the door (if you want to "drop in" at our house, you should call first). I turn the lights on about 15 minutes before my wife comes home. They're compact fluorescent too.
  • Minimized hair dryer use. No one cares what my hair looks like most of the time anyway since I work at home. I towel dry and air dry it instead.
  • Paid more attention to turning off lights. In grade school there were orange stickers on every light switch that said, "If you don't need 'em, don't feed 'em."
  • Turned off moisture control feature on refrigerator. This isn't necessary in winter anyway.

There is much more that I can do, and maybe we can break $30. I still need to aggressively clean the dog hair out of the refrigerator coils. I need to keep nagging my wife to do only full loads in the washer and dryer (the latter is gas-heated but still uses electricity). I also need to remind her to unplug rechargers when they are finished charging (they stay warm, so they are still using electricity). I should put the stereo equipment on a power strip that I can turn off (the receiver has a standby light, so it's always drawing power). I need to remember to put my laptop in standby mode when I won't be using it for a while -- the AC adapter stays cool in standby mode, so I know it isn't using much juice. And finally, I need to buy three compact fluorescent globes for the bathroom. Most of these improvements will be minor, but they can add up.

Best of all, this is just "bonus savings" from tips I have come across while focusing on our gas bill. In that area, I am anxious to see the benefits of insulation and radiator reflectors. Of course gas savings will be harder to measure since the variable outdoor temperature has such an impact on usage.

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