Five Percent: Conserve Energy

Climate Change Is Important: Energy Conservation is the First Step


June 28, 2008

40% Reduction In Electrical Use Over 4 Years

Not to brag or anything, but my family rocks! We have reduced our electrical consumption by 40% over the course of the time we started seriously thinking about our impact on the environment. What’s the secret?

As you can see from numerous blog posts linked here, and from the pretty amazing chart (click here for the readable version) I made here, there is no secret.

Changing light bulbs to CFL certainly helped. We replaced our washer and dryer with energy efficient models. We turn out the lights when they are not in use. We set up TVs and computers to turn off completely and automatically. We were careful about heat in the basement playroom (which uses electric heat). And we reduced the need for air conditioning in the summer using insulation, shades, ceiling fans and others.

But most of all, we just became aware. Becoming aware was gradual, as you can see — several “low hanging fruit” got us the first big wins, but it’s amazing how we keep finding new ways to stop using electricity that provides little or no benefit to us.

Today, for example, we used up the last of the items we had sitting in a deep-freezer in our basement, and turned it off. And as I look around, there are a few more things I think about here and there. That might be another few percent reduction in electrical use (maybe Five Percent?).

So what have we given up? What sacrifices do we make to get this reduction? Hmm, well, unused rooms are not lit up. Our clothes dry faster. We rarely have the noise of the air conditioners (except for the neighbors’) when we sleep. The air in the house is fresher. We’re naked more in bed.

It’s a tough life, but somebody’s got to do it.

We’re saving about $80/month on our electricity bill at current rates compared to if we had not made these changes. I have signed up for the wind-power option our utility will be offering starting this summer (all of our electricity will be generated by wind power, instead of coal) — that will cost us $5/month extra.

We have made similar changes in our consumption of gasoline, heating fuel (gas, in our house), water, food, recycling, even composting, and many other things. Almost all of them are a result of small changes. Even the new cars might have paid for themselves … except we do drive less, so it takes longer. Were saving hundreds of dollars a month in some expenses, and that offsets increases in others.

We have made these changes over almost four years now. Little by little we have become aware of how we use things up, and this carries over into all aspects of our lives.

None of these changes require sacrifice or hardship. Our house is still comfortable (usually more comfortable). Our food tastes better since it’s often organic and local when possible. Our health is much better because we drive less and walk and ride more.

But perhaps the biggest opportunity we still have to make is in encouraging others to become aware and make changes. Our poor extended family, friends, co-workers and others have to listen to our endless nagging. But as we walk to school, or look out the window it’s pretty clear that there are many, many opportunities for others to take the same simple steps we have.

9 Comments

  1. [...] that over the course of several years, my family and I have reduced our electricity use by more than 40%. Our bill this month was around $100. Our electricity rate, like those around the country, will be [...]

    Pingback by Cent-A-Meter, Centometer, or Power Cost Meter: Pays For Itself | Five Percent: Conserve a Little Energy — July 28, 2008 @ 12:03 am

  2. [...]In June, I made the same calculations and showed we saved 40%, and we have continued to improve since then, now running at 46% less. I have been tracking our [...]

    Pingback by Save Electricity — Our 45% Reduction Saves $1,250/year (Updated) | Five Percent: Conserve a Little Energy — September 19, 2008 @ 12:47 pm

  3. Start using a Convection Toaster Oven. We manage to cook every day meals in it instead of the full size oven.

    Oven 5400 watt
    CTO 1500 watts

    73% reduction in electricity to cook the same size meals. Cut our usage by 20kwh’s per week!

    Comment by Tex Austin — January 22, 2010 @ 3:45 pm

  4. This is a great idea (even if our oven is gas — energy is energy) — it always bums me out that we heat up a rather large space just for something like potatoes or roasted vegetables (asparagus, broccoli are incredible roasted). And then I found out that my oven, when on, uses a “glow bar” which is a replacement for the gas pilot that was on all the time; instead, the glow bar uses electricity to heat up a bit of metal to white hot so that if the gas needs to come on, there’s something to ignite it … yet the glow bar is on for the duration of the time the oven is on, and it soaks up more than 300W. (Granted, that does contribute to the heat in the oven, but certainly not very efficiently, I assume).

    So we’ll check out a convection toaster oven. What model do you recommend?

    Comment by Tom Harrison — January 22, 2010 @ 7:57 pm

  5. For my family, The Bravetti rotisserie convection oven was our choice.
    I can rotisserie a 4 pound chicken and hold 2- 12 inch pizza’s. 4 meat pies and fries. Can toast 6 slices of bread for more energy savings over regular toaster. This is a small sample of what it can hold.

    My research shows all cto’s to be around the same wattage.
    This cto has great reviews all over the net.

    PS, Thanks for the tip on your stove glow bar. When our electric oven/stove is toast, I was planing on switching over to a gas oven and stove as gas is cheaper than electricity here in Ontario Canada. I’ll pay attention to how they ignite for an efficient model.

    Comment by Tex Austin — January 23, 2010 @ 5:04 pm

  6. One more thing. Cool website for tracking electricity, gas, water, temperature, sq footage, occupancy. Entries done manually.

    It’s easier to save when you track your usage.
    Wish I could fined a Ted for the other energy users!

    http://www.readyourmeter.org

    I’m not affiliated nor soliciting for anyone for the above site!
    I just find it easier to save when tracking my usage.

    People often ask, how much can I save using a programmable thermostat? With Ted recording the electric and you tracking gas daily, it’s easy to trend and see if it works for you.

    I did this for myself and I can’t save by moving my temperature up and down. I have radiant floor heating that takes too long to heat and cool so I use more gas chasing temperatures than holding a steady temperature.

    Comment by Tex Austin — January 23, 2010 @ 5:22 pm

  7. Tex –

    Thanks for the tip on convection ovens. We’ll check our your model.

    And readyourmeter.org looks great. I have added it to the links section of the site.

    Comment by Tom Harrison — January 23, 2010 @ 6:37 pm

  8. [...] bill for something other than the monthly charge.  After a few years, we were able to find ways to reduce our electrical consumption by about 40%.  All of this was before we got our first electricity monitor, the BlueLine PowerCost Monitor. [...]

    Pingback by Energy Monitoring: It’s Not a Passive Thing | Tom Harrison Jr — August 26, 2010 @ 12:50 pm

  9. We have been actively trying to reduce our electrical usage — with some success ….. strangely enough the UK Government has now slashed the rebates of Solar Panels installations in the Home ….. this will have a detrimental effect on people going green and generating their own electircity …..

    Comment by Tommy — January 7, 2012 @ 6:14 pm

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