With the approaching winter everyone starts thinking about coming hikes in your monthly power bills for electricity and gas. While during summer the average bill can be perhaps one hundred dollars, during winter months the cost of energy consumption can easily reach five times that amount. Most of the usage comes from heating your house, but that’s not all. There are many other significant power consuming items adding up to the total of your electricity and gas bills.
In this article we will focus on the main electricity and gas energy consuming activities and offer some handy tips that should help everyone cut one’s power cost and save hard earned money that can be then spent on more enjoyable things and activities.
(1) Making sure you are with the right power provider company
Everyone’s energy consumptions pattern is different. Energy power companies are offering different plans based on many factors. The most common factor is the total use of energy over a period of some time. So make sure that you are on the right plan for your level of power usage. Changing plan even within the same provider can bring you big savings.
Changing provider to one that offers the best package for your needs can save you even more money. So, do the research of your previous energy usage during both summer and winter months and then choose the right plan with the power company that best suits your needs. There are couple of websites (like the Power Switcher) which do all the comparisons and final selection for you. But you will need to feed them with your energy usage data, for which you need to get that information first by researching it. You should be able to get that from your previous electricity and gas bills, ideally over the last 2 years.
(2) Is your house insulated?
Well, if it’s not, then it will be very hard to make savings. The more you heat your house the more energy is lost. Insulation is one of the most effective ways to save on electricity and gas cost.
However, even if your house is not insulated, there are stills few more effective things that can be done.
(a) First, keep windows closed so that the heat loss is minimized. For getting fresh air, open them widely but only for a short times.
(b) During sunny days keep curtains open so that you get as much heat from the sun as you can. It’s free energy. Once the sun goes down, close the curtains (ideally thermal curtains). This will keep the heat inside the house.
(c) The best option are heat pumps. Heat pumps are the cheapest to run, but the most expencive to buy. If this is not an option for you then consider convection heaters rather than radiant heaters. Hot air will keep you warm from all directions. Radiated heat will keep you warm only from one side. On the other one you will still feel cold.
(d) You are probably familiar with that feeling when the air is warm, but you still feel cold. That’s because the walls and furniture are cold. Even if you are not touching them, the heat radiation principle causes that you feel cold. In physics terminology you radiate your heat away but are not getting much back from the cold walls and furniture, hence you feeling cold because of that energy transfer imbalance. Lesson for you: warm the house slowly and gradually so that not only the air gets warm but everything else too.
(e) Heat your house only up to the minimum comfortable temperature. The higher the difference between outside and inside, the faster heat loss. Again, physics at works. In another words: every extra degree of temperature will cost you more and more money.
(f) Don’t use electric blankets. They don’t consume too much electric energy, but they are not healthy. They generate constant magnetic and electric fields and long time exposure to it can damage your body. Instead, go to bed 5 minutes earlier and use your own body heat. If having quality duvet, the heat will stay under it and you will feel worm in no time.
(3) General tips for saving electricity energy
Heating during winter is the biggest portion of your power costs, however, there are still many other things to keep in mind that can save you lots of money. Even if the amounts of possible savings are lower, it can add up to few hundreds of dollars over several months period. Wouldn’t a new “free” gadget be nice? Well, here are few other general tips for energy savings:
(a) Heat up the water in your hot water cylinder only to the warm luke level. Again, the higher the difference between water and outside temperature, the higher is the cost for every extra degree. Isolating cylinder would also greatly help to reduce heat loss.
(b) Keep showers short. Do you know how much energy is needed to heat 10 liters of water? Actually water is one of the most hardest things on earth to heat. Way harder that iron, stone or oil. Don’t waste it, once heated!
(c) Now the classic one – switch off appliances when not used. Especially overnight and when you are not at home. Electricity energy savings won’t be great, but not completely insignificant. Perhaps one nice dinner in two or free months? Not enough for a new gadget, but still better then being hungry!
(d) Wash clothes only in full washing machine loads. Washing machines use lots of energy, especially for heating water and spinning. Also, use programs on lower temperatures, up to 40 degrees.
(e) Now you would probably expect talking about economical light bulbs, also called compact fluorescent lamps (CFL). Well, it’s true that they consume only about 20% of normal light bulbs, but I don’t like them personally. Their light is unnatural. Talking physics – they don’t provide the full light spectrum. You may not notice it, but your brain will and long term it can cause few health issues. Not mentioning that they contain mercury vapors and if accidentally broken, it can lead to mercury poisoning, especially in small children whose developing nervous systems are especially susceptible to mercury.
(f) Don’t cook lots of soups. Remember? Soup is water and heating water requires a lot of energy. But seriously – be wise with cooking. If you cook foods that require long time of boiling something, use pressurized pots. Baking also consumes a lot of energy.
(g) If you have gas available at your property then use it for cooking and hot water cylinder. Gas is more economical for heating than electricity.