What can you do at a Residence that really makes sense in terms of saving electricity?
I will add to this article at a later date "when I have time" lol. But for now let this suffice. I am an expert in these matters, there are only 14,000 Certified Energy Managers (CEM) in the USA. I am one of them, my number is in the low 9000's
There are a few things you can do at a household that make economic sense with a quick payback. And there are lots of things you can do that hardly make sense at all based on economics and the value of your own time. That said....anything we do to conserve energy or produce energy strikes a nail into the heart of The Nuclear Lie.
The NO BRAINER LIST
Replace any 10 year old or older Refrigerator or Freezer with a new more efficient unit. If possible, if you have like 3 total units at your house, try to eliminate one completely.
Replace any electric water heater with solar water heat. If you have gas water heating, it is unlikely that going solar will make economic sense.
Replace older conventional washing machines with modern Front Loader washing machines
If you have gas available, consider converting Electric Dryer to Gas
If you have incandescent lights, convert to CFL. Consider converting to LED, but be careful, not all LED is cheap at this time. The run hours of the light say everything about the economic sense of the changeout. Contact me if you need help on a simple analysis. I need original watts, run hours, and replacement watts, and cost of replacement.
Install Solar PV. This is pretty much a no brainer throughout the USA except in the areas with super cheap hydro-power. In places like Hawaii, it is the Mother Of All No brainers. What is the cost (less tax and utility incentives), and what is the output? What is the expected rate of increase in power cost from your power company (the answer is likely around 6% per year). The analysis is pretty simple. The more systems that go in your area, the lower the costs will become. However, be aware of tax credits going away in 2016.
Install Power Strips on congregations of equipment that can be shutoff completely, like your entertainment center. Lots of devices have lights or CPUs or microchips running whenever plugged in, even if off. These are also called vampire loads. The Vampire Loads can be as high as 10% to 15% of your entire household usage.
In high heat areas like most of Hawaii, installing a solar attic fan is an extremely cheap way to accomplish a lot of worthy goals. With current tax credits, the cost is typically under $400 net cost. You can achieve, cooler attic and less heat coming into the house. That means greater comfort and lower air-conditioning bills. They will also prolong the life of your roof, make your storage space more useable (attic space can run 150F to 180F, damaging anything in there).
That's it, 8 no brainers
DO NOT List
DO NOT --Buy any "black box" gizmos from salesmen that will mount in your garage and magically make all your energy consumption drop 30% (or even 10%). These Capacitors, aka Power Conditioners, and other trade names are 99% smoke and mirrors. Remember, the best lies have an element of the truth.
DO NOT - worry too much about your electric range. Even if you cook a lot, these are a very small fraction of your overall bill. It will not make economic sense to change a range from electric to gas, But, and I have just done this, converted from Electric to gas in order to have better cooking, instantaneous heat control, and emergency backup in a power outage (you still need to be able to provide 120V for the range to operate, but this is small, think computer backup UPS)
DO NOT fall for well intentioned but damaging misunderstanding of technical information like an electrician saying to convert your Jacuzzi tub to 240V from 120V will cut your electric in half. I have heard this kind of thing so many times, it wants to make me pull my hair out. YES it will cut your amperage in half, that it a simple formula. However, you buy electricity in KWH. True your amperage is down by half, but your overall wattage you need to buy stays right about the same. The change in efficiency is minor, 1% to 3% by going to 240V.
DO NOT switch to a "Instantaneous Water Heater" in areas of high calcium and especially silicate water supplies. The savings attributed to these types of heater are vastly inflated. The amount of energy lost through thermal conduction through the insulation of your water heater is really small, a heater might lose 2 or 3 degrees overnight. Electric Instantaneous is even worse than Gas Instantaneous.
DO NOT fall for a "change to gas water heat from electric" IF you can go hot water Solar. Gas heaters are not good FUTURE candidates for conversion to Solar. Don't think 'I can always do solar later after the conversion to gas', it is not that simple. The best backup heating system for a typical solar is electric backup. Do not buy Gas Water Heat on a new house. Solar is FAR better. Developors will set their best salesmen on you to convince you the gas is better, simply because it is cheaper for them to build and they can make more money off of you.
In the future I will detail a CONSIDER LIST, it won't be that large
Modern refrigerators and freezers are extremely efficient, even with the electric heat defrost.
I bought a 20 Cubic Foot freezer to store 1/3 of my garden harvest. I logged it using a kWH plug in meter. These used to cost $120 and even as a CEM I only had 2, now they are in the $20 range and you can get them at the big box stores or online.
I logged my large freezer and in the heat of summer whilst loading it with warm product, it was using 1.2kWH per day, or a little less than $6 per month. In winter, with the freezer in an unheated garage, I expect the usage to be much less, and I just deployed my logger to collect some REAL DATA.
Folks in order to make good decisions, we need REAL DATA. Otherwise we spin our wheels, wasting our own precious energy and time.
To Emphasize a no brainer that doesn't even deserve analysis: if your refrigerator or freezer is over 10 YO, replace it, the energy savings alone will pay for the new unit. Donate the old one to someone who really needs it. Put it up on craigslist if need be.
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