Saving Energy and $$$ On Your Electric Bill.

Well, it’s been over three months now since we have made a concerted effort to reduce our electricity consumption in our home. I got the idea to try it from an insert in my bill from my energy provider.  Further research led me to a more detailed post from EcoExistent that I used to find the what they call “vampire power”, or stand-by power consumption examples below:

  • Cell phone chargers pull 1 watt/hr when plugged in not charging a phone.
  • DVD players, when plugged in, but turned off pull 7 watt/hr.
  • TV’s pull 10 watts/hr. while plugged in and turned off.
  • Computer monitors can pull 11 watts/hr. while on standby.
  • A Desktop Computer pulls 15 watts/hr. plugged in but not turned on.

According to one of the DOE‘s web pages, stand-by power can account for as much as 20% of home energy usage.  There are many sites out there that also list power consumption by common household appliances and equipment.  Here’s one from another US DOE web page.

We first started paying attention a few years ago, and I thought we were doing pretty well.  Most of our lights (including recessed lighting) are now florescent, and we are pretty good about turning off lights and the TV when we leave the room.  But armed with this new information I went to work.

As I looked around, I realized we were leaving many, many chargers plugged in 24/7.  Not only cell phone chargers, but my sons’ iPod chargers, chargers for electric razors, hand-held games, rechargeable battery chargers, camcorders, blue tooth devices… Everywhere I looked, I found an unused charger pulling electricity on the AC side of the charger transformer.  Solution: I consolidated many of them onto power strips and flip the switch when not in use.  I added a power strip at the stereo, at each TV and on the Desktop PC in my office.  In the kitchen, we now keep less-used appliances (like the bread maker) unplugged until we need them.

My primary time to “clear” the house is just before bedtime, ensuring 6-8 full hours of minimal stand-by waste.  Often times, this means many items stay unplugged until they are needed, sometimes as late as the next evening.  It all seems like a lot of work, but once you get a routine, it isn’t too bad.

So here’s a typical just before bed walk-through in the Eco-Trash home: As I’m locking up, I flip off the family room TV power strip switch and everything (except our TIVO!  It has to remain on, so I plug it directly into the wall) is off with one simple click.  I pass by the stereo and flip the power strip along side the system.  I finish locking up the house and head upstairs.  In the office/den, I turn off the power strip I set up for my youngest son’s ‘wires nest’ he calls his gaming place.  I power down the family desktop PC and flip off power strip switch.  Lastly, I head into my oldest son’s room to power down and flip the power strip for his desktop and monitor  (which also disconnects his wad of electronic charging devices).  Then I turn off his fan, switch off his closet light and (aha!) un-plug his cell phone charger that he keeps by the bed.

So what were the results?

In terms of reduced energy, we went from 33.6 kilo-watt hours (kWh) per day last year to 24.1 kWh per day this year.  That’s a 28% reduction in our electric usage, a total of  855 kWh this quarter.  That is enough electricity to burn a 100 watt light bulb 11 hours a day for over 2 years.

Let me tell you, in today’s economic climate, being green can save the green!  Our energy provider charges us with a graduated billing process; the price per kWh goes up at each tier of usage (see below).  The energy we save comes from the upper tiers with this billing process.

This is from our April 2009 bill.

Baseline Usage                 327.60    kWh    @    $0.11531
101-130% of Baseline       98.28    kWh    @    $0.13109
131-200% of Baseline    179.92    kWh    @    $0.25974
201-300% of Baseline        0.00    kWh    @    $0.35443*

That means as you reduce your upper tier energy usage, you gain significant savings.  I looked at the first 3 months of this year and estimated we saved at least $74 per month!  *Actually we saved more than that because we were able to stay out of the 201-300% tier which as you can see runs over 35 cents per kWh!

This result has re-fortified my resolve to do even better in the coming months.  (I know there were several nights where I forgot to shut things down…not any more!)

If you try this, let me know how it works out for you.

Chad M. Wall


15 responses to “Saving Energy and $$$ On Your Electric Bill.

  1. That’s great, that you saved that much on your bill. Looking forward to seeing an update on how low you can go.

  2. ecotrashsolutions

    Laura Jean,
    Thanks for the information from your site. It was helpful. And thanks for the comment. I’ll keep you posted.

  3. I actually find it amazing how much of a difference it makes to “stop the electrical bleeding.” That is astounding. And I love that you include your “eco routine.” That would be the hardest part for me – just remembering.

    Great post!

  4. Wow, I didn’t realize that you could save that much in electric cost by simply shutting of the power to those energy suckers.

    I already converted all of our home lighting to CFLs an my electric bill was still high. Armed with your example I’ll see if I can cut the electric use even more.

    Here’s to saving money, and the planet!

    Thanks Chad

  5. ecotrashsolutions

    It takes 30 days to form a habit, I hear. Don’t give up.

    I was amazed too. Let me know how it turns out.

  6. This is so helpful! I had heard that shutting chargers, electronics, etc. down could “save”, but I have never seen an actual example of how big a difference it can make. It’s a compelling argument from a “green” standpoint; but I suspect it is mainly the $$$ that will really motivate people to form the new habits… and the time you took to explain that fully was compelling! Thanks!

    • jane,
      The truth be told, the BIG $ reductions came from shutting off (and disconnecting) idle equipment when not in use (TV, PCs, monitors etc.).
      But, if you multiply 1 watt/hour per cell phone charger times the ~1 Billion new phones (and chargers) purchased each year…now that’s a big number!

  7. Pingback: Update: Still saving 21% on Electricity Bill; 5 months running. « Eco-Trash Solutions

  8. We re-insulated our house with a blow in 30 R factor fiberglass, installed dual pane windows with low-e, replaced the external doors, installed blow in insulation in the walls of our garage and installed batting insulation to the roof of the garage. In addition we installed a whole house fan and a wood burning stove.

    Neighbors, including us, were paying nearly $500/month on electricity. (Natural gas is only available in tanks and that is propane).

    Conclusion: We did not use our air conditioner once (except for maintenance) last year and we did not use our electric heater either. We burned wood from some fallen trees that were damaged from a severe wind storm. Electric bill now near $50 each month without any use of natural gas.

    In the morning and evenings we run the whole house fan to cool the house in the summer. We turn it off and close the windows to maintain the cool throughout the day even in +90 degree days.

    Oh.. and we have 13 chickens.

  9. Kirk,
    I also have a whole house fan. I run it in the evenings during the summer after the outside has cooled somewhat. Haven’t tried in the morning. I’ll check it out.

    Chickens! I have a garden, but no chickens…

  10. Pingback: Reduced electricity use by 30% Sep, and 25% Oct « Eco-Footprint Solutions

  11. Hi Chad, great article! I have got done my office all connected to one power strip and it turns off two computers, a mouse charger and external drive. I now need to take this plan to hte rest of the house.

    Any simple suggestions for keeping the gas heat bill down?

    Cheers, john

    • John V I haven’t directly attacked the heat bill, although we did upgrade (free from our utility service provider) the thermostat unit to a fully programmable one. We also set the heat to lower temps and use it to warm up for an hour in the am and a bit in the evening. Next year’s projects will be water and natural gas. I’ll post here when we make new, inexpensive discoveries.

  12. Hey Chad

    With shutting off the TV and Computers at night using the power strip trick I calculate I’m saving about $10 a month on my electric bill, at least according to my last two bills.

    I just converted my old tank type water heater to the new Tankless style. I’ll let you know what that saves in gas. By the way it cost me $4500 to install two tankless heaters in my house, one for domestic hot water and a smaller one for our radiant floor heat. There is a $1500 federal tax credit for installing tankless heaters, so the total cost of the install will be $3K. I’m hoping to save at least 50% on my gas bill each month as well. I’ll keep you informed.

    • wow! that’s pretty expensive for water heaters. I’m hoping my upcoming water/gas reduction plans can be done a lot cheaper. Yes, keep me informed. I do like the concept of the tankless water heater (small units that, if possible are located near the location, like undersink.) That way you not only reduce storing ready heated water, but you reduce water consumption while waiting for it to warm up.

      I’m also going to look into recyclers, that move a low amount of hot water along the pipes so it is hot quickly. Hotels use it and my home is plumbed for it, but I removed it during a water heater change 7 years ago. I sure miss it, but I also want to understand the advantages (cost and waste) or disadvantages of such a system.
      Thanks for commenting! Keep us posted as to your savings.

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