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Saving Money by Saving Electicity

Are you aware of how much electricity you consume every day? With the rising price of fuel, energy costs are on the rise. And yet, electricity is still one of the most wasted forms of energy on the planet. There are many ways to save electricity, and with it, money. There are simple things you can do, ones that require a little more effort, and then there are choices you can make while shopping that can reduce your kilowatt-hours. By following just a few of these steps, you can take control of your energy use and see a real difference in your electric bill.

Level One 'Simple and Easy

The items in Level One are simple, straightforward, and take less than five minutes to do.

Learn to turn off the lights when you leave a room. It doesn't seem like a big deal, but your average light bulb is one of your biggest power-wasters. You can see a significant difference in your bill by making sure that unnecessary lights are off. You might even consider looking at the light-bulb shopping points in Level Three.

Another great way to save on power with lights is by using sunlight as much as you can. Opening your curtains or blinds and turning the electric lamps off will not only save electricity, but give better light in most cases.

If you have an electric air conditioner or heater, shut it off or turn it down when you leave. Why waste energy and money heating or cooling an empty home? You can also turn these down when you go to sleep. Thermostats with built-in timers help here, but you can do this just as easily with a manual one.

Also, always turn off fans 'ceiling or otherwise 'when you leave the room. They don't actually reduce the temperature in the room; the moving air only feels cooler against your skin. So if you're not there to enjoy the breeze, turn it off.

Level Two 'More Power to You

Level Two consists of actions that may take an extra few minutes or half hour to do, but can save quite a bit more.

Find all the electronics in your house that have a big transformer, or "wall-wart." Almost all of these devices have what's called a phantom load; they use up to 80% of normal power even when turned off. TVs and stereos in particular are big drains. Be particularly wary of devices who have remotes, or whose manual refers to being off as "stand-by" or "sleep mode." If you don't want to unplug these devices every time you finish using them, a power strip or light-switch-controlled outlet can be an easier option. Flip a switch and save money.

The biggest power-waster in your home is likely an iron or hair drier. Converting electricity to heat is among the most inefficient processes in everyday use. The solution is simple - reduce your use. Ironing all your clothes at once keeps you from heating up the iron several times. Towel-dry your hair as much as possible; the power drain of a hair drier is enormous. Space heaters are also electricity-wasters, so keeping their use down will also help.

Level Three 'Shop Smart

Level Three consists of things to consider when buying electrical appliances in order to save money long-term.

Almost any electrical appliance will fall into the wall-wart category described above. Most of them have labels on the box with how much power they consume. If this rating isn't given in watts, arithmetic can help: Power (watts) = current (amps) x voltage (volts). So if your appliance's wall-wart says "Output: 12V, 1.5A", then it will require 12 x 1.5 = 18 watts. The lower the wattage, the lower your bill will be.

When buying light bulbs, consider switching to compact fluorescent bulbs. These new bulbs will use less power and last much longer, resulting in a double savings.

If you're buying a stereo, television or something else that has a "memory," see if you can find one that will keep its settings when unplugged, so you don't have to decide between reprogramming every day or paying more for electricity.

When buying audio equipment, the current fad is to get the loudest, most powerful stereo or set of speakers you can afford. Yet in most cases, using this device at more than 1/3 of maximum volume will result in the police knocking on your door. Also, the bigger speakers use more electricity; the idea is to reduce your wattage, not increase it. Buy a reasonable system and save money both up front and on your power bill.

When buying a monitor for your computer or a television, know that liquid crystal (LCD) screens use significantly less power than the Cathode Ray Tube ones of old. Also, a smaller display uses less power, so choose only as big as you need, and you'll save a great deal.

The generation of electricity is a high-pollution industry. Anything that saves electricity helps reduce that pollution while saving you money. These ideas are just a few of the many ways in which you can help the environment and your wallet.

About the author:
Juan Anselmo Borla is a freelance writer and poet. He lives at Dancing Rabbit, a sustainable ecovillage in northeast Missouri. There, he hopes to make the world a better place by using his Chemical Engineering degree to develop an alternative fuels program. His fiancee and two cats hope he doesn't blow himself up in the process. He can be reached at jaborla[at]gmail[dot]com

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