Five Percent: Conserve Energy

Climate Change Is Important: Energy Conservation is the First Step

December 21, 2008

Top 10 Things We Did To Cut Our Electricity Bill in Half

Category: 5%'s Top 10 List,Conservation,Save Electricity,Take Actions,Tips – Tom Harrison – 6:28 pm

Here’s a chart of our electricity use at home over the last four years, showing an almost 50% reduction in use over the course of four years, saving us $118 per month at our current rate. You can make the same kinds of changes we have — nothing we have done is exotic, and nothing has really affected the quality of our lives.

One Half As Much Saves $118 Per Month

One Half As Much Saves $118 Per Month

Conservation is about as un-sexy as it gets; but it works and is easy for electricity. Measuring our gas bill is a little harder, but I have to think we have made some progress there, too. I did a calculation on our water bill, and that one is stunning, as well.

Conservation may be dull, but saving money is cool, and it’s very easy to save a pretty substantial amount. One way to think about saving money by conservation is that it is like tax-free income! Between state and federal taxes, you probably pay from 20% to 50% of your income; if you got a $118/month raise, you would see less thant $100 of it, maybe as little as $59! But if you conserve, it’s tax free income.

We started reducing our consumption in 2005, and I started this blog then. My goal was to find ways that people could reduce a little here and a little there to use just five percent less, and that’s where the name of the blog came from. So, every month, we looked at our electricity bill to see if the things we did had any impact. They did.

In the first month we saw our first 8% reduction, By 6 months we had seen about 27% savings. By June this year we were up to 40% savings, and then we started getting serious, and this September we were up to 45%. How low can we go?

Top Ten List (Drumroll, please…)

Here’s my top 10 list of changes we made to save electricity.

  1. Get 3 computers to standby and hibernate
  2. Get a Smart Strip and move most “vampire transformers” to it, unplug others
  3. Replace computer file server & router with Apple Time Capsule
  4. Lock out heat in the summer to reduce use of A/C to almost none
  5. Reduce the number of loads of dishes, clothes by about 20%
  6. Get an energy-efficient washer and dryer (and keep dryer vent clean)
  7. Change about 20 of our light bulbs to Compact Fluorescent (CFL) — here’s my review of the best CFLs
  8. Figure out how to do without the deep-freezer in the basement; replace only with EnergyStar appliances
  9. Get a Cent-a-meter PowerCost Monitor
  10. And, above all: turn out the lights when you’re not using them (or don’t turn them on at all!!!)

What, you were expecting something exotic and dramatic? Sorry, it just works.


  1. I really like all of your ways to reduce your electric bill – but my favorite is No.10! Turning off unnecessary lights inside and out will not only save you money but it will help the environment and your health.

    Comment by Debra — December 21, 2008 @ 7:45 pm

  2. That is a truly impressive saving!

    I don’t know if such ‘smart strips’ are available here in Europe, I haven’t found anything, in fact this is the first I’ve heard about them. We use switched extension-leads everywhere around our home and can get much the same saving if we remember to turn things off, but these strips would be ideal for people who won’t always remember to do that.

    Comment by Tony — January 6, 2009 @ 12:58 pm

  3. […] as I have reported, this is only only one such self-made tax cuts we have gained real and lasting financial benefit […]

    Pingback by Obama: The Simple Logic of Efficiency (NOT BORING!) | Five Percent: Conserve a Little Energy — February 10, 2009 @ 10:34 am

  4. […] which illustrates the effectiveness of this approach. He has reduced his electricity use by 50% in 4 years, and his use of water by a similar fraction. One post refers to measuring power consumption […]

    Pingback by It’s not easy being green | Song for Jasmine — March 1, 2009 @ 3:19 pm

  5. […] data are from monthly bills based on meter readings, provided by my electric utility, free, as part of their service. The bills include the meter-read […]

    Pingback by Electricity Data: The Devil is in the Details | What's on? — May 26, 2009 @ 12:56 pm

  6. speaking of light bulbs wall mart had a pack of 3 for 5 buck the are 9 watt usage and are 60watt brightness

    Comment by michael — March 1, 2010 @ 6:21 pm

  7. @Michael — these light bulbs, WalMart’s in particular, are exactly what I advise against. First 60W equivalent is a dim bulb compared to what most people are used to. Second, these are low quality bulbs, in general; these are bulbs that WalMart gets and puts under a store brand; they do not meet any set specification for quality, start-up time, etc. And frankly, it’s not a great price!

    We all have such a funny response to prices. A high quality CFL such as the ones I recommend actually do last for 5 years; most low quality ones have a fault of some sort and are fragile due to poor design and assembly. So instead of paying $4.00/bulb of the right wattage, we cheap out and save $3.00 on one that will likely break much sooner, and perform badly. Yet, when faced with large purchases we spend much more without batting an eye.

    Buy GE (and now Philips and Earthmate CFLs have made my list) — they are much, much, much better.

    Comment by Tom Harrison — March 2, 2010 @ 8:47 am

  8. […] how much electricity you’re using at the moment is incredibly instructive, and has saved us hundreds of dollars in electricity by helping us identify and change a few things … and to keep us honest. I caught my wife […]

    Pingback by TED 5000 (The Energy Detective): Released, and I Have One | Five Percent: Conserve Energy — December 4, 2010 @ 10:33 pm

  9. That is very impressive – Our family has also been able to reduce our electric usage by almost 50% (we were running below 20kwh/day, but have slipped back up to 25kwh/day)

    We made similar changes and found that two changes contributed most of our savings: switching to CFLs, and switching to front load washer and dryer models. The savings have already paid for the upgrades.

    Comment by Smart Energy — February 15, 2011 @ 12:47 pm

  10. I blog quite often and I genuinely appreciate your information.

    The article has really peaked my interest. I am going to take a note of your blog and keep checking for new details about once per week.

    I opted in for your RSS feed as well.

    Comment by and what is not. Read on to learn the basics of green energy technologies and which ones will work for you in your home.|Because there are a wide variety of green energy technologies available — September 11, 2012 @ 12:48 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.