Saving Money: How to Reduce the Electricity Bill

A few years ago (maybe the late 80s or early 90s), there was an ad on television which showed viewers how to reduce the electricity bill by performing a refrigerator door seal test. The ad featured someone placing a two dollar bill between the seals of the fridge and the fridge door.

If the bill stayed in place, and did not fall to the bottom, it meant that the seal was strong, and no air was escaping through the door. However if it fell to the bottom, it meant that the seal was weak and was allowing air to escape. This would cause your electricity bill to be higher than it should be.

Back then I though that ad was funny and and of course I had to try it. Thankfully, the test revealed that the seal was strong and there were no leaks. Little did I know that a simple test like this could make a huge difference in an electricity bill.

Fast forward to 2016 where energy conservation is a lifestyle that can be used to protect the environment and save customers thousands of dollars. The refrigerator seal test is just one of several ways the average person can reduce their energy usage.

Although renewable energy technologies have become a necessary improvement for homes and businesses, initial costs make them out of reach for many people. But, it’s hard to resist wanting an alternative energy system which will reduce the electricity bill and save you money.

Here are a few things that I’ve done at home, to reduce the electricity bill and trim my energy costs.

Changing Light Bulbs to Energy Efficient Light Bulbs

Several years ago I took a trip and I bought several packages of energy efficient light bulbs because they were on sale. Little did I know that one little light bulb could reduce lighting costs. it’s believed that energy efficient light bulbs use 25%-80% less energy than traditional light bulbs.

Washing Full Loads in the Washing Machine

I do laundry when I have a large amount of clothing in my basket. If you wash one sock or a large load of clothing, the amount of water does not change. Solution? Wash full loads of clothing so that you can maximise the water usage.Newer front load washing machines use between 15-30 gallons of water for a load of laundry, whilst older models use around 45 gallons of water.

Washing Laundry in Cold Water Instead of Hot Water

I’ll admit that I never considered this an energy saving strategy. But, I always wash my clothes in cold water to prevent clothing dyes from mixing. Research shows that washing clothes in cold water can reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Further research showed that many detergents are actually cold water detergents and are more effective than when used with warm or hot water.

Drying Laundry on an Outdoor Line

It might be a pain, but hanging clothing on an outdoor line is free. In the Caribbean, this is our preferred method to dry laundry. We benefit from sunshine all year round, so it only makes sense to use it. Unfortunately, some housing developments are restricting this practice and require residents to use dryers. This is quite unfortunate, because that is essentially wasting free energy from the sun.

Taking Showers Instead of Baths

If your home is equipped with an electric water heater, taking long baths not only wastes water, but also wastes energy. And, in a water scarce country like Barbados, it wastes too much water. Although my home has a solar water heater, which uses energy from the sun to heat the water, I am still conscious of how much water I use.

Unplugging Appliances That Are Not in Use

I remember when I told work colleagues about this a few years ago. They could not believe that I unplugged all of the minor appliances in my home when I was finished with them. Every day before I leave home, I unplug the television, fan, computer, radio, microwave and every other small appliance. The only appliances that remain plugged in are the refrigerator and the freezer.

Turning Off Lights When You Leave the Room

I think that this is one of the easiest things that you can do the reduce the electricity bill. Sometimes my home has lights on in four out of the more than ten rooms burning at any one time. This is because it’s become a habit to turn off lights when certain rooms are empty. I’m not sure how much this actually saves, but in my opinion, every little bit helps.

Planting Shade Trees

Planting trees in the right places around your home can keep your home cool. Trees can provide shade to the walls of your home, thus reducing the amount of heat that is absorbed. If the walls remain cool, the heat is not trapped inside your home and you will not have to use your fan or air conditioner.

Although these are quite a number of things that I practice, there are still many more things that can be done. I found an amazing resource which really dissects how to save on electricity costs. The site advocates attacking the biggest energy users first – and this makes absolute sense. If you can get rid of the things that use the most electricity, then you will save more.

Resources

For more information about how to reduce the electricity bill and conserve energy in your home, visit the following resources:

Smart Energy Barbados – Helpful resource of conserving energy at home and in the workplace.

A.M. Electrical Solutions Inc. –  Electrical engineering firm that provides power quality and energy audits.

Solar Barbados– Solar power blog that provides an educational foundation on the use of solar energy as a sustainable energy source.

Future Energy Caribbean Inc. – Delivers cost effective clean energy solutions to residential and commercial clients.

Simmons Electrical Company Ltd. – Mechanical and electrical engineering company that provides photo-voltaic, wind and energy audits and coordinates the design and installation of electrical and alternative energy systems.

Clarke Energy Associates – Advisory, training and project development services for energy policy and legislation, renewable energy, energy efficiency, demand side management (DSM), and electric utility planning.

Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency – Caribbean body that aims to improve access to alternative energy services and reduce dependencies on traditional energy sources.

Emera Caribbean Renewables – Subsidiary of Emera Inc. that provides free solar photo-voltaic assessments.

Caribbean Renewable Energy Development Programme – Agency established to improve political, legal and regulatory framework conditions for the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency.

What energy saving strategies do you use to help to reduce the electricity bill in your home?

Your children are never too young to learn about personal finance. Read this article for simple ways to teach your children about money.

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