Solar Panel Systems, Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency and Your Home

November 7, 2017 Posted by kyu7

Reducing your Electric Bill with Renewable Energy

Using renewable energy to produce electricity and reduce your electric bill can be a sound long-term investment. Depending on the type of technology, you can expect a full return on your investment within 3 to 18 years. With financial or tax rebates from your utility company or state and national government, the payback period on your investment can be cut in half.

However, the very first step to considering any renewable energy system must be how to make your home or business more energy efficient. Generally, the basic rule is that for every $1 you spend on making your location more energy efficient, you save $3 to $5 on the cost of the renewable energy system. Let’s go over some basic ways you can make your home more energy efficient.

Making Your Home Energy Efficient

One of the easiest things that you can do to reduce your electrical consumption is change out your regular incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). CFLs use 65 to 75% less energy than a normal light bulb that produces the same amount of light. By replacing a normal 100 watt incandescent light bulb with a 32 watt CFL, you will save $60 to $80 in electricity costs over the lifetime of that bulb (10,000 hours). Now imagine how much you would save if you changed out all of your light bulbs to CFLs!

The technology for these bulbs has quickly evolved and improved in the last few years, while the cost has come down dramatically. You’ll find that there are CFLs that will now fit most light fixtures and lighting needs-there are even dimmable CFLs!. Head out to your local department or hardware store and buy CFLs for as many of your light fixtures as possible. The investment is well worth it.

Another alternative to traditional lights are tubular skylights . Tubular skylights look a little like shiny stove pipes that start with a transparent dome on top of the roof and come down into some room for day lighting. We frequently see customers using tubular skylights to bring daylight into hallways and closets. The light is, of course, entirely natural and in some installations can provide as much illumination as a 100-Watt incandescent light bulb.

Energy Star and EnergyGuide

One of the biggest consumers of electricity in most households is the refrigerator. In most households, refrigeration is the number one electricity consumer after any electricity-based heating or cooling systems. If your refrigerator is over 10 years old, chances are it’s electrically very inefficient. Consider replacing your current refrigerator with one that has a high Energy Star rating. Remember that just because a refrigerator may have earned the Energy Star label doesn’t mean it’s the most efficient model available-it only means that its efficiency exceeds the federally mandated efficiency standard by at least 15%. You can even do much of your investigation online at the Energy Star website. There you can search for the brand, type and size of refrigerator you want and sort by energy efficiency. When you shop in stores, consult the yellow EnergyGuide tags that are attached to all new refrigerators (and many other appliances). EnergyGuide is a different government program from Energy Star that offers information about annual energy consumption and shows you where each model lands in a comparison with similar models. For maximum energy savings, select the model that’s a leader in efficiency in its class.

Ghost Loads

Also known as “phantom loads”, ghost loads are the sneaky devices that constantly consume small amounts of electricity 24 hours a day-even when they’re not actually doing anything useful. While each device by itself may not consume much electricity, the combination of all of them within your household may easily consume the equivalent of two or three 60-Watt incandescent light bulbs left on all day and all night. Over the course of a single year this adds up to over 1 Megawatt-hour-in other words, enough electricity to power an entire energy-efficient house for 2 to 3 months!

What are these mysterious ghost loads? The most common examples are the “power brick” adapters, or power supplies, that charge or operate cell phones, laptop computers, cordless drills, answering machines, radios, inkjet printers, and many other household devices. They’re actually small transformers, turning AC electricity from the wall outlet into DC electricity for use by the device. While any one of these devices may only consume a small amount of power (e.g., 3-20 watts), a dozen or so of them, running simultaneously and continuously, consume a significant amount of electricity. What’s worse is that even when you’re not charging your cell phone or the battery for your cordless drill, that AC adapter may continue to consume power just because it’s plugged into the wall. Other well-disguised ghost loads are those devices which have the “instant on” feature, such as most modern television sets, VCRs, DVD players, many radios and even many computers. While all of these devices are supposedly turned off, they are actually consuming anywhere from 3 to 20 watts continuously-just to stay ready for you to use them.

How can you decrease the consumption of energy by these parasitic loads? One of the simplest solutions is to simply plug these devices into a power strip which has an off/on switch. When you are done using the devices and shut them off normally, then just hit the off switch on the power strip. Many people make it part of their nightly routine to shut off these power strips just before they go to bed. For AC power adapters that you use at night, like for charging a cell phone, put those on a separate power strip that you turn off during the day when you take your phone with you. Simple solutions like these could reduce your ghost electric loads by as much as 80%. In real-dollars terms, this means saving upwards of $120 per year in electricity costs, depending on your local electric utility rates and how dedicated you are to reducing your ghost loads.

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