Author Topic: Low cost ways to monitor and reduce energy usage?  (Read 2098 times)

Trudie

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Low cost ways to monitor and reduce energy usage?
« on: September 03, 2015, 03:25:50 PM »
I haven't slayed the energy usage dragon yet.  How do others monitor and reduce their usage?  I'm looking for lower tech, easy-to-implement ideas.  I'm somewhat intrigued by the whole home monitoring systems but am not sure if they're worth it.

We're just two people, so it's easy to manage behavior.  We already use time of day pricing and do our chores during off-peak times.  Our house is only eleven years old, so all appliances (with the exception of older washer and dryer) are energy star.  We have a programmable thermostat (but get lazy with it).  Our HVAC system is high-efficiency.  We also run our air conditioning quite a bit for two reasons -- horrible allergies (and we're surrounded by woods) and high humidity conditions.  If truth be told, when you're 45 and female and are perimenopausal sleep is a problem when you're hot.  And when you don't get good sleep, everything goes to hell the next day... So, I want to start with low-hanging fruit but not sacrifice personal comfort.

abiteveryday

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Re: Low cost ways to monitor and reduce energy usage?
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2015, 03:29:05 PM »
Heating and cooling your living space, and maybe hot water, are really the only big energy draws for MOST people.    LED lighting and all that is nice, but if you are going to run the AC (and far be it from me to say not to) that just sort of is what it is.

therethere

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Re: Low cost ways to monitor and reduce energy usage?
« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2015, 03:35:58 PM »
My library lets you borrow a Kill-o-Watt or equivalent monitor. Simple enough to find draining plug in appliances.

Koreth

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Re: Low cost ways to monitor and reduce energy usage?
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2015, 05:38:20 PM »
There is a post on the blog that summarizes this with several tips (edit: I found it! here: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2015/03/25/cut-your-power-bill/ )

Probably the easiest thing to do would be to pick up a a simple engery usage monitor like the Kill-o-Watt as therethere suggests, and start checking the actual power usage of your appliances. IMO, your first target should be your tech gadgets. A cable box, Playstation, DVD player,  or similar can draw a surprising amount of power when supposedly off. Less so, but still worth mentioning are the chargers for your phones, tablets and laptops. When plugged in, these devices are drawing current and consuming a small amount of energy, even when not charging anything.

Another thing worth investigating is upgrading your appliances. You mention the washer and dryer are older and not engery star certified. With a little patience, you may be able to pick up a recent washer or dryer that's much more energy efficient on Craigslist.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2015, 10:29:18 PM by Koreth »

Tyson

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Re: Low cost ways to monitor and reduce energy usage?
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2015, 05:46:25 PM »
We've cut our bill by $60 or $70 every month since finding MMM.  For us there were a few things:

1.  Quit using the clothes dryer.  I just hang my clothes and let them air dry.  We have door hooks and I can usually get 3 shirts per hook.  Undies and shorts or jeans hang from door knobs or other handles.  We use the drier for things that might mold if left damp too long, like wash clothes and heavy towels.  Otherwise the drier sits there, fallow.

2.  Keep the house warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter.  Especially at night we used to like to keep our home very cool so we could cozy up in bed to go to sleep.  Now we keep it warmer (but still cool) and use thin sheets instead of warm blankets.

3.  Unplug electronics when not in use. 

4.  Replaced all lights with energy saver bulbs

5.  Close blinds/curtains at night during the winter to keep heat transfer down.

6.  Keep doors closed during the summer to prevent cool air from escaping.

7. Don't run the dishwasher ever day - let it fill up over 2 or 3 days and run it only when it's full.

There's probably a few other things we did, but they are minor.  These were the biggies for us. 

The_path_less_taken

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Re: Low cost ways to monitor and reduce energy usage?
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2015, 09:45:35 PM »
You want low tech?

Re-caulk every opening into the exterior of your home. "30 year caulk" is apparently measured in dogs years.

Wrap any hot water pipe that is close to an outside wall. Make sure none of your faucets or toilets drip/run when you're not using them.

Get those little foam backers for  your outlets....or cut your own for them.

If you have a window in a room you're not in a lot, you can mist plain water on it and then put bubble wrap across it: still lets in light, makes a single pane act like a double/triple pane...depending on your bubble wrap. Just yank it off if you need the view for a bit.

If you're surrounded by woods....wood stove time?

Instead of drying most of my stuff outside, I either put it on a folding rack or the best thing for small stuff is an over the door hanger: socks/panties/etc over there and boom, they're dry.

Blanket your hot water heater.

Down quilts, good ones, are worth what you pay for them.

johnny847

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Re: Low cost ways to monitor and reduce energy usage?
« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2015, 09:56:00 PM »
We've cut our bill by $60 or $70 every month since finding MMM.  For us there were a few things:

1.  Quit using the clothes dryer.  I just hang my clothes and let them air dry.  We have door hooks and I can usually get 3 shirts per hook.  Undies and shorts or jeans hang from door knobs or other handles.  We use the drier for things that might mold if left damp too long, like wash clothes and heavy towels.  Otherwise the drier sits there, fallow.
Typically good advice, but the OP already faces high humidity. And uses the A/C to lower the humidity. The energy savings are debatable in this case.

@OP:
Just because a device is energy start doesn't mean it's not worth replacing for a higher efficiency model. You should actually measure the energy usage of the device, and then make that decision. Use a Kill A Watt. As therethere suggested, your library may let you borrow one. You can't effectively tackle your energy bill without figuring out which devices are using up your energy. You don't necessarily need a home energy monitor that hooks into your circuit breakers to do that.