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Reduce your Electricity Carbon Footprint

It is amazing how much electricity is wasted in the average household. People leave the lights on when they leave a room. They leave countless game systems, cell phone chargers, and other electronic devices plugged in 24/7, acting as “energy vampires” drawing a constant supply of electricity even when those devices are turned off.

By taking simple steps to reduce your daily energy usage, you can help create a noticeable impact on the usage of coal, nuclear power, and other resources in your area’s power plants.

The average US citizen has a monthly electric bill of $104.52 according to the US Department of Energy. If you're above this value, there's many ways to reduce your bill!

Turning Off Lights
First we look into the normal culprits - people leaving on lights. An easy way to fix this problem is to invest in motion sensor lights in key rooms - bathrooms, kitchens, and so on. These lights will come on when you go into the area, and turn off when you leave. It’s great for when you come home with your arms full of grocery bags!

For the rooms that you need switch-lights in, make sure you turn those switches off when you leave them!

Be sure to use energy efficient light bulbs whenever possible as well. They might cost a little more to install, but they save you a lot of money in the long run, since they last far longer than the old style bulbs did. 20% of the average household's electricity bill comes from lighting. That's about $20/month. If you go from 60 watt standard bulbs to 15 watt energy-efficient bulbs, that's a savings of 75%. So that's $15/month on average that you save just with that one change. If your monthly electrical bill is currently more than the $104 average, you'll save even more.

Energy Vampires
Energy vampires are the devices you leave plugged in that sit there draining electricity all day and night! You might not even realize your device is using power. Some devices even suck power when they are "off".

Do a survey of your home. Go room to room and make note of everything that is plugged in. Items like lamps normally do not draw power when they are off – but items like cell phone chargers *do* keep sucking power. Anything with a visible clock tends to be drawing energy.

Plug your energy-sucking devices into a power strip that has an on/off button on it. When the device is not in use, turn that strip to OFF. You could save substantial money as a result!

If your computer really has to stay on, at least put it into sleep mode when you leave it for the night, and turn off the monitor. These can result in substantial savings.

Avoid Your Dryer
One of the largest users of electricity in the average home is the clothes dryer. The average clothes dryer consumes a phenomenal 5,000 watts of power every hour that it runs. Compare that against the tiny 15 watts that the average new light bulb uses! Turning on your clothes dryer is like turning on 333 lights in one room of your house.

Some clothes dryer brands are even worse than this 5,000 watt figure. You should be able to google your model and find out exactly how much power it sucks down.

How many hours a week do you run your clothes dryer? Five hours? Ten? That could be 50,000 watts of power every week that you're sucking down. That can get expensive very quickly. That's $20/month right there - or more, depending on your electric company's price per killowatt hour.

So look at options. Make sure you only run the dryer when there's a full load. Do you have any options for hang-drying your clothes? Take them! Your clothes will last longer, you'll save money, and you'll help the environment.

Optimize Your Washer
In comparison with the phenomenal 5,000 watts of power a clothes dryer uses, the clothes washers seem fairly tame at only about 500 watts for the average. Of course you can find clothes washers anywhere from about 150 watts to 1150 watts, so you might have one on the high range! That could mean you’re paying literally 10 times as much in electricity costs as you need to.

First, of course, look to see what your clothes washer is currently using. That’s always the first step, and you should easily be able to find that information on the web. That will give you a base line.

Next, most researchers indicate that a full 90% of the energy your clothes washer is using each time it runs a cycle is spent in heating up the water. That is, the washing machine needs little energy to spin in circles. It’s using all that energy to make the water go from cold to hot.

So you could save 90% of your washer electrical bill simply by washing your clothes in cold water. One quick change - 90% budget savings! Even if you have an item that you feel absolutely has to be washed in hot to get a stain out, the rinse cycle can always be in cold. Hot water doesn’t rinse any better. Any water can do a rinse.

If you have the budget to buy a new washer, seriously look into a front-loading washer. First, they use less water, so even if you have to heat up warm or hot water, you’re heating less water and saving money. Second, the clothes are treated more gently and last longer. Third, because less water is used, the clothes don’t end up soaking wet - meaning you don’t have to dry them as long - meaning you save huge amounts of money on the dryer side, since the dryer is an energy hot.

Investigate your Water Heater
Most people don’t think about their water heater. The water heater is located in some dark corner of the basement and you never “turn it on”. Water simply is hot when you need it to be hot.

Would it surprise you to realize that your water heater uses even more power than your clothes dryer does? Water heaters can use up to 5500 watts an hour, and depending on how you use hot water in your home, this can add up very quickly.

First, take a look at what temperature your water heater is heating your water up to. By turning down that temperature, you can save a lot of money. Do you really need the water too-hot-to-touch? Find a level that you’re comfortable with.

Next, make sure your water heater is insulated. Insulating your water heater is extremely cheap – maybe $20 at most hardware stores for the jacket – and it can save you substantial amounts of money. After all, you want to heat up the water inside the heater, not the air around it!

The prime area that hot water is used is in showers, baths, and hand-washed dishes. Think about how you use hot water the next time you do those things. Do you really need the water to be super-hot? Do you need to take an hour long shower? The less hot water you use, the more energy you save.

While you’re at it, make sure the showerhead you use is a low-flow one. These aerate the water to create a wider spray, so that you use less water and get the same feeling of force. You can save quite a lot of money as a result!

Stop Using as Much Electricity
Find ways to avoid using electricity all together. These ideas can be fun and save you quite a lot of money!

* Let your hair air dry. Many hair dryers use a phenomenal 2,000 watts or more. That's a lot of money being spent every day!

* Let your dishwasher air dry. Using the heated dryer cycle in your dishwasher adds a large amount of energy usage.

* Have a romantic dinner by candlelight.

* Instead of watching TV all night, play a board game or read a book. Again, a TV is an enormous power consumer.

* Turn off all the lights in the house and sit outside under the stars with a glass of wine, a few friends, and an evening of conversation.

* If you use electric heat, remember that a portion of your bill is due to heating costs. Make sure you read all the suggestions in the heating area in order to reduce those.

It’s easy enough to see how much money could be saved in your monthly budget with fairly simple changes. Do this test. Look at your electrical bill for the past few months. Then tackle one of these changes - washing in cold water, converting your lights to energy efficient lights, turning off monitors and TVs when not in use. See what happens!

To see graphically the average breakdown of electricity usage in the US, visit our US Electricity Usage page.

Let us know if you have any other suggestions for us to add to this page!

Reduce your Carbon Footprint - main page

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