Thursday, 1 March 2012

Saving on Electricity Costs

Yesterday I had a visit by the Climate Smart Home Service electrician.

The program is an intiative by the Queensland State Government whereby the householder books a visit by a qualified electrician who comes out to your home to conduct an electricity audit and give you some tips on how to save on your power bill.  He also comes armed with some gifts too which are included in the $50 fee and are designed to help you monitor and understand your energy usage better.

Energy meter
The first handy little instrument is this Energy Monitor in the photo above.  The electrician connects one part into your meter box and this mobile monitor stays inside your home and gives a reading of current energy usage.  Our home seems to run at between 5 and 7 cents per kilowatt hour as you can see by the reading on the meter.  This was taken with a fridge, deep freeze and 2 ceiling fans running, and as it was during the daytime there were no lights on.

Recording usage by various appliances
Then I put the kettle on for a cup of coffee and look at the difference it makes.  Straight away it increases to 52 cents per kilowatt hour but also you can see that the kilowatts have jumped up really high.  Fortunately it only takes a couple of minutes to boil a kettle especially if you only fill it to how many cups you need.  The electric oven operates on about the same reading so if I was baking or cooking for a couple of hours each day the costs could get quite high.  The electrician recommends those glass bench top 'Turbo Cookers'.  They cook in half the time and use less energy.

Turning on the air conditioner took the reading to 19 cents per kilowatt hour.

Standby power eliminator and remote control
Another handy device were these stand-by eliminators.  There is a packet of 4 and you plug them into a power socket where you have multiple items connected and they can all be turned off via remote control.  I put one in the kids TV room where the TV, xbox, dvd player and printer are connected.  Another one went into the lounge room where the other TV, dvd player and digital photo frame are connected and one to my computer.  Then I still had 1 left over but nowhere that really had a lot of electrical equipment plugged in so I put it on my outdoor water feature so I can just push the remote control to turn that off before going to bed instead of having to go outside to do it.  Lazy I know but why not?  Now I just have to be careful not to press the wrong button and turn off the TV room while the teenager is in the middle of an xbox game :)

Other gifts that are included in the $50 visit are some spare energy efficient globes, or if you don't already have them the electrician will replace them for you, and 2 water efficient shower heads.  As our house is relatively newly built we already had these, but he left the globes for spares.

Our energy account for the last quarter
Our electricity bill for the last quarter came in at a lower cost than the previous one even though we used the air conditioners a few days during this period.  At the moment we are using an average of $3.42 per day and the last bill it was $3.84 per day.  That's a savings of nearly $40 between bills and I would rather that in my pocket than the Energy companies and of course we are also reducing our greenhouse emissions too.

The Climate Smart Electrician are also there to give you advice and so here is a list of the advice I was given that I could improve on in our house.

  • Turn off the deep freezer or move it out of the garage into a cooler room. (upto $80 off next quarterly bill)
  • Cover the air conditioner condensers with awnings of some kind to keep the sun off. (10% savings)
  • Airconditioners set at 24C for cooling and 18C for heating.  (For every degree set higher on cooling and every degree set lower on heating with reverse cycle air conditioners 10% savings)
  • Only fill the kettle with how much water you need.
  • Use a bench top Turbo Cooker instead of the oven.
  • Wash your clothes on the Cold cycle. (I used to do this but since buying a new front loading machine I had forgotten this tip)
  • Get the hot water system changed to 'Off Peak' rates. (There is a Queensland Government rebate of upto $100 to have this done- 10% savings) Maybe there is one in your area too.
  • Turn lights & fans off when you leave a room, even the energy efficient globes. (However energy efficient globes and ceiling fans use very little electricity)

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