Condo Blues: 5 Easy Ways to Lower Your Electric Bill

Thursday, May 1, 2008

5 Easy Ways to Lower Your Electric Bill

Trying to reduce our electricity usage by 20% this year, without replacing everything we own, had me singing The Condo Blues. (Condo Blues. What a great name for a blog, ya think?) After a couple of months into the New Year, I checked our electric bills. Our electricity usage didn’t go down from the previous month, it actually went up!

This is after I:

1. Switched my remaining incandescent light bulbs to CFLs

2. Switched to the Short Wash cycle on my dishwasher and continued to do only full loads in the dishwasher and air dry the dishes

3. Sealed the interiors of our windows, lights witches, outlets, and ducts

4. Put a blanket on the hot water heater

5.Continued to wash full loads of laundry in cold water in the washer and started line drying our clothes on hangers in the guest bathroom

At the suggestion of many a person on the Treehugger forums, I looked into to this whole Phantom Load/Vampire Power thing.

So, basically, a Phantom Load comes down to this. If you have an appliance that has a clock (like my microwave oven), an LED light that stays even after the appliance is turned off (like my TV), or a power supply box on the plug (like my computer scanner) then that appliance will pull a little bit of electricity from the outlet even though you’ve turned the appliance off. The theory goes if I eliminate some of The Condo’s Phantom Loads/Vampire Power then it should reflect positively on my electric bill.

How I Saved Electricity By Vanquishing Vampire Power

  • I couldn’t unplug all of my kitchen appliances with clocks, LEDs, etc. after each use because some of them were too big to move away from the outlet after each use, like my electric stove. Therefore, I concentrated on unplugging my small countertop appliances after each use like the coffeemaker, bread maker, and crock pot in the kitchen.

  • Husband and I already unplug our cell phone chargers, etc after each use so no changes here. Then I noticed the Roomba was always on the charger. Oops. That changed. Now I only plug in the Roomba to charge it the day or morning before I want to use it.

  • I have a nasty habit of leaving my sewing machine on after I’m done sewing. I put a post it note on the machine near the on switch to remind myself to turn it off when I’m done with a project.

  • Husband and I already turn off our computers and LED moniters after each use. However we can't turn off their power strips because the machines are plugged into a battery backup. However, we do turn the printer and scanner on only when we’re going to use them. Again, no changes here.

  • TVs – This one's easy because the TVs and cable box, DVR, etc. are already on power strips. I put a note on both TVs to remind myself to turn off the power strip after powering down the TV, etc after each use. The only downside to this is that I don’t get an immediate cable signal when I turn on the TV in the living room because it takes awhile for the digital cable box to warm up. (The second TV doesn’t use a cable box and doesn’t need to warm up to get a signal.)
By unplugging these few appliances after each use, I significantly reduced The Condo’s electricity usage and in turn, our electric bill. It was pretty simple once I got used to it. Best of all, it was a green solution that cost me absolutely no money! Free and easy, just the way I like it.

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Lisa P said...

Are you sure the blanket on the hot water tank isn't a fire hazard? I had heard of doing that before, but it just occurred to me that it could be. Worth checking out!

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

As long as you follow the installation directions on the hot water heater blanket and cut the blanket to fit your hot water heater, the controls, etc. it shouldn't be. If you aren't sure, please check with the maker of your hot water heater before you add an insulating blanket.

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