So you have a cheap electricity plan for your home, but you’re looking for ways to save even more energy and money. Just like choosing your energy company, you have the power to choose methods and products that will save you energy throughout your home. We all know the common ways to save energy like switching out old incandescent light bulbs for energy efficient CFLs or LEDs, or cleaning the filters on your HVAC system. Both of these are great, but why stop there?
- Low Flow Showerhead
Installing a low-flow showerhead can save a lot of water and energy required to heat the water. The Evolve Roadrunner 2 has a built in temperature sensor so once the cold water is out of the line and the water temp reaches 95°F, it slows to a trickle. Step into the shower and pull the cord to resume the flow of water. The showerhead saves about 8 gallons of water per 5 minutes of showering and provides a good water pressure level. Your yearly savings could reach up to $246, paying for itself six times over!
- Window Wraps
Plastic wrap for your windows may not seem like the most attractive look, but the savings sure do look good. A single $15 kit covers 5 windows and can save about $100 over the course of a winter. These kits are best for older windows but won’t help much if the window frame is of poor quality.
- Window Replacement
Replacing old windows isn’t cheap, but it will definitely reduce the energy costs associated with heating and cooling your home. Replacing 8 windows can cost up to $3550, but you’ll save up to $465 each year in energy costs. It could take up to 10 years before the windows cover their cost, but in the meantime, your home will be more comfortable.
Programmable thermostats are excellent ways to reduce energy use. You can set the times you want it to run your HVAC system and when to turn it off. Leave it off overnight and while at work, but let it warm or cool your home from the time you get home from work and when you get up in the morning. Learning thermostats will program themselves according to your schedule and some can be controlled by Wi-Fi apps on your phone or tablet. A Nest Learning Thermostat can pay for itself within 5 years, depending on how much energy you save.
Insulation is important to maintain home comfort and prevent climate controlled air from escaping. One of the places it escapes from most is the attic. Insulating the attic will keep your home more comfortable, and it costs between $110 and $167 to insulate 300 square feet. The amount of time it takes to cover the cost in savings varies quite a bit, though.
Sitting under a ceiling fan in the warmer months will allow you to set your thermostat a few degrees higher. The fan uses the wind chill effect to make you feel cooler than you actually are. In the winter, reverse the fan’s spin direction and run it at a low speed to help circulate the warm air that gathers up at the ceiling.
Refrigerators are another expensive item to replace, but they could net you some pretty cool savings. If the fridge you replace is more than 25 years old, you’ll save about $150 per year in energy. The amount of time it takes to recover the cost varies based on how old your current fridge is and how expensive your new one is.
Have you ever heard the quote “It’s not the volts that kill you, it’s the amps”? It’s very possible you’ve heard this somewhere before and on the surface, it’s true. However, there’s a lot more to it than that, because low voltage and amperage can still be lethal, depending on how it’s applied. We’ll address this and some other electricity myths here.
- Downed Power Lines
Just because a power line is down, doesn’t mean it’s inactive. Treat EVERY downed power line as if it were live. These lines carry enough energy to kill without warning.
Don’t think for a second that because you’re wearing rubber boots and gloves that you can handle something like a downed power line. Common boots and gloves are not effective enough to resist the massive current running through the lines. Same thing applies to car tires. They may resist some levels of electricity, but not all.
- “If I don’t touch it, I’m safe”
Electricity doesn’t need a solid object to travel through. Electricity arcs can occur, again without warning, and leap from one conductive surface to another, such as a truck to a metal ladder. The minimum safe distance for electricity workers is 3 feet from a conductive object while servicing a 240 volt line. Untrained people should remain at least 12 feet from conductive objects when operating on a 240 volt line and even further when in the vicinity of transmission lines.
- “It’s not the volts that kill you, it’s the amps”
This line from the 1986 movie Running Scared is misleading in the sense that regardless of how high the voltage is, if the amps are low enough, you’ll be fine. While that’s true to an extent, the reality is that as voltage increases, so too do the amps. In addition, as voltage increases, your body’s natural electrical resistance decreases. When you receive a static shock, you’re getting hit with a brief discharge of a couple thousand volts and about 8 amps, but those amps become basically 0 after a millisecond. But a sustained exposure from a constant source of energy like a capacitor or power line feed a constant supply of volts and amps which will burn and damage your body. Remember, your body is about 70% water, and water is highly conductive. In general, less than 30 volts will be an annoying tingle, 30-50 volts could cause damage, and more than 50 volts have the potential to kill. An exception to this is tasers, which have resistors installed in them to reduce the amperage coursing through the line. However, they can still kill.
- “It’s just a shallow hole, I won’t hit any lines”
Any time you plan to dig in your yard, whether it’s to install a pool or fence, make certain you are not digging where power lines could be present. Underground lines are increasingly common, and hitting one at best knocks out power to your house and at worse knocks you out. Contact your utility or Dig Safe to get a detailed location guide for any lines under your property, electrical, gas, or otherwise.
- The Third Prong
Some people remove the third prong from power cords when they don’t fit into a socket, but doing so makes the appliance less safe. That prong helps ground the electrical current in the event of a surge so it doesn’t overload the appliance or give you a nasty shock. Additionally, you should replace any cords or cables that have wiring exposed.