Killing My Electrical Vampires

Electrical Vampires are the appliances and devices in the home/office that use massive amounts of electricity or suck 50 to 100 watts when they're not even being used. If you have money to burn, don't bother reading any further and keep wasting money and power. But, if you want to reduce your power bill, read and follow the tips found in the following article; you will save money.

Unveiling The Vampires:
When the sun goes down, close window curtains and turn off all lights. Then, being careful not to fall over anything, walk around the house and watch for glowing little lights on electronic gadgets and appliances. Those are the wallet-draining electrical vampires.

I have effectively turned off all of those little energy-sucking LEDs glowing in the night from my gadgets and appliances when I'm not using them. My general method is to connect multiple devices, in the same room, to a multi-outlet power strip and plug the power strip into a wall outlet that is controlled by the main wall lightswitch to the room. When I leave the room, I turn off the lightswitch, effectively turning off the energy-sucking devices. There are other methods I use as well. Just find ways of completely removing the power from devices until they are actually needed. Keeping them plugged into the wall, with no control, was draining my wallet.

When I leave my house, this is what remains running on AC power:
1 cordless telephone charger to keep the battery charged
1 Electric Alarm Clock

Here are some of my other energy-saving actions:
When I'm away, I close window curtains (insulated) for better insulation from the summer heat or winter cold and close all interior doors to keep the core of my house warm in the winter or cool in the summer. I use this checklist to prepare my home before leaving for extended periods.

I have a digital programmable thermostat to lower the house temperature when I'm away in the winter or sleeping at night or raise the temperature when I'm away in the summer. Keep in mind that raising the temperature can affect the refrigerator and lowering can affect the hot water heater.

When I'm home, I still close the interior doors when I'm not in those rooms and I always turn off lights when I leave the room and turn off the television when I'm not actually watching a program.

I have integrated a solar power system into my lifestyle, using 12-volt appliances and lighting (30-40 lumens). It's not ultra pleasing to some eyes but I save a ton of money.

Inside Lighting: I have been replacing my dying incandescent and CFL light bulbs with LED bulbs which use 84% less electricity to produce the same amount of light (lumens). Example: a 4 watt LED bulb produces the same lumens of light as a 25 watt incandescent bulb.

Outside Lighting: Using solar security/safety (LED) lights instead of electric when possible. Ideally, the solar panel/collector should be facing South to achieve maximum battery charging but any ambient light, including artifical light, will charge a solar lighting unit battery or solar panel.

Biggest Vampire: The Hot Water Heater (HWH). I researched tank-less, on-demand hot water heaters (insta-Hot), at each sink, to reduce usage of my hot water heater tank. It was not feasible for me but could be very feasible for you so I highly recommend looking in to it. Instead of the individual Insta-Hots, I replaced the HWH tank with a whole-house, on-demand water heater. While the initial cost was high, it has lowered my electric bill and reduces the potential of water leak damage. When I had the HWH tank, I kept my HWH turned off until about 1/2 hour before needing mass quantities of hot water [for a bath or shower]. For example, when ready to take a shower, I turned the HWH circuit on (at the electrical panel) about 1/2 hour ahead of time. After showering, I turned off the HWH circuit. Under normal circumstances, the HWH will keep water warm enough for general use between showers. Usually (for me), general water use does not need hot water. Putting a thermal blanket around the HWH will retain heat longer. By keeping my HWH off until I needed it, I was able to cut my electric bill by about 200+%. Just like the termostat, the utility company (or plumber) can put a control or in-line timer on the HWH to automaticllly turn it on/off based on my schedule. Additionally, converting the HWH to use AC and Solar (DC) will save money when the sun is actually powering the HWH. Click here to find out How Much Does the Hot Water Heater Affect an Electric Bill.

Next Biggest Vampire: Winter Heat. For me, this is even more expensive than air conditioning. As I mention above, I've realized that many areas of the house are not in 24/7 use so I keep doors closed on rooms that do not get much use to keep my "core" area of the house warm. Bedrooms and bathrooms and the utility closet are my main closeoffs. I program my thermostat as needed. Some friends of mine use a wood stove or propane heaters instead of electric which, they claim, are cheaper options to electric heat.

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER): The SEER measures air conditioning and heat pump cooling efficiency, which is calculated by the cooling output for a typical cooling season divided by the total electric energy input during the same time frame. A SEER rating is a maximum efficiency rating, similar to the miles per gallon for your car. Using appliances with a high SEER Rating will save money on electric use.

Refrigerator/Freezer: Empty space inside warms faster than occupied space so I have filled it to capacity (mostly with water bottles) so the contents help keep it cool inside and reduce its need to run so much.

Here is a section of an actual report of my usage by the utility company comparing me to my neighbors:

Doing an annual review of my utilities provider (gas/electric company) has also reaped savings. If you live in a states where electricity and natural gas providers are deregulated you could save on these utilities. Monitoring my cost of the provider's kWh (kilowatt per hour) fee has helped me save money by moving my service to another provider if my current provider can't match or drop their fee below that of their competitors. Check this site to see if you can reduce your energy bill. If I am in a contract, I am sure to avoid any penalty fees when considering a move to another provider.

Saving money on electricity has required some lifestyle changes, but the money savings have been majorly worth it to me. Naturally, those living in the household need to be on board with these changes. Convenience is a very hard habit to break. Just putting these changes in place, without first discussing them, can turn very ugly.

Recommended Readings:
How Much Does the Hot Water Heater Affect an Electric Bill?
Ways to Save on Your Water Heating Bill
Make Your Refrigerator More Energy Efficient
Staying Cool Without Conventional Air Conditioning
Stay Warm In Winter Without Electric
Minimalist Living: Tips to Save $