“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”—Benjamin Franklin
Ben certainly had it right when he said those infamous words; however, in today’s modern times there are quite a few more things that are everlasting, with one of them being the rising electricity costs! On top of that, utility bills are getting out of hand, and lowering them seems to require spending money on green power gadgets or sacrificing our sanity.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom—homify always has a way! And today, we’d love to share some simple tricks and minor adjustments to the way you operate your appliances (without you having to send death threats to electricians); tricks that are certain to cause a few cuts on your monthly power bill, leaving you with some extra cash to rather splurge on stylish interior decor.
Did you know that even if your TV, computer or other appliances are switched off and plugged in, they are quietly draining electricity? This is known as stand-by power, and is a big problem as it accounts for up to 10% of residential energy use.
So, what can you do? Use a power strip with switches to plug in your appliances. For example, add one to your living room and have your TV, DVD player, sound system and game consoles share it. Plugging in all of your products into a power strip and flipping the ‘off’ button when these items are not in use means they are truly switched off.
Or, just unplug your products one at a time. But we know that there are certain products that you would rather keep plugged in, like your freezer or digital alarm clock. However, the rest of your powered-up friends (like the microwave and toaster) can all enjoy a time-out when they’re not being used.
Laundry day always requires lots of energy, and we don’t just mean yours! To save up on some electricity while keeping your whites white, wash clothes on the shortest cycle and with the lowest water level that is practical for your needs.
Use a cold water or 30°C cycle where possible. Warmer temperatures are only needed for particularly dirty clothes, bad stains and underwear.
Wait until you have a full load before washing. Naturally if you’re in dire need of some clean delicates you may put a load in, but otherwise it’s best to wait for a full basket to avoid wasting water.
Where possible, use a high-spin speed so that your clothes come out almost dry, with little or no need for tumble drying (which uses a lot more power compared to hanging your clothes up to dry).
Of course sometimes a tumble dryer is a necessity, which is when we look for other ideas on how to get the most out of it.
A clogged lint screen or dryer duct drastically reduces a dryer’s efficiency, whether it’s gas or electric. Make sure to clean the lint screen after each load and cleanse the exhaust duct once a year. A cleaner with an auger brush that attaches to a drill is sufficient for cleaning the ducts, and are available at home centres.
To further reduce your power usage, dry loads of laundry back to back so that the dryer doesn’t cool down between loads (a warm dryer uses less energy). Over-drying damages your clothes and runs up your power bill, so only run the dryer until the clothes are dry.
Should you be in the market for a new dryer and already have a gas line in the house, opt for a gas dryer – they are more efficient.
Want to reduce your energy bill? Simply replace your old light bulbs with LEDs. LED (light-emitting diode) light bulbs use between 80-85% less energy than the incandescent bulbs they replace.
LEDs used to take a long time to make up for the money spent on them, but prices have dropped significantly, making them a much better deal. On top of being more energy efficient, LEDs also last longer (an estimated 20 years, depending on the amount of hours they burn daily, of course); so, switching over and going green will save you a lot of money over time.
homify hint: Switch your porch lighting over to LED to notice considerably fewer bugs. Incandescent lamps and CFLs (compact fluorescent lamp) produce copious amounts of ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) radiation, which serve as big attractions to bugs.
Replacing your old refrigerator / freezer with a new model can help considerably with your high power bills. A fridge that is 15 years or older may be so inefficient that a new one would pay for itself in energy savings in only a few years. But since fridges are quite pricey and we can’t just pick one up whenever we’re told to, let’s see other tips on how to reduce our power usage.
Clean the condenser coils. Condenser coils that are caked with dust/dirt build up an insulator, preventing adequate heat transfer between the coils and the room air. Unplug your fridge and dust / vacuum these coils (usually located on the back or behind the front grill) as dirt accumulates.
Check the temperature. Use an accurate thermometer. Your fridge should be about 2/3°C, while your freezer must remain between -17°C and -15°C. Keeping temperatures 12°C lower than recommended levels can increase energy use by as much as 25%.
If you have a choice between using the microwave or an electric stove, always go with the microwave – it consumes as much as 90% less energy. If you dislike microwaving foods, use a toaster oven for baking or roasting small items.
A convection oven speeds up cooking by about 35% by using a small fan, reducing the amount of electricity used.
Bake in glass or ceramic vessels—they're the most efficient to use in the oven and can reduce the temperature required for cooking. And don’t peek at your food – opening the door reduces the heat by 27°C, so keep the door closed!
homify hint: Slow cookers use less energy and won’t heat up your kitchen (a big no-no in the summer months).
Not bothered by the heat? Then see our homify-approved guide to The Heat Is On: Installing A Wood Stove.