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Money Leaks: Unnecessarily Wasting Electricity

Electricity is wonderful, isn’t it? It powers so many of the devices in our home, it makes life more comfortable during periods of extreme heat or cold, and we probably wouldn’t have as much fun without it. It also happens to be a pretty big budgetary line item for many families and one that deserves additional attention – especially if you’re looking for money leaks.

When I talk about unnecessarily wasting electricity, I don’t mean those days when you turn on the A/C because it’s too hot or humid outside. We all have personal preferences and doing the things that make you happy isn’t considered a leak. It’s only a leak when you don’t realize you’re doing it, like having your A/C turn on when you’re on vacation during the week. That would be a leak (and a prime example of unnecessarily wasting electricity!).

This is the latest edition of our series called Money Leaks. [3]

Turn Off Unused Lights

When I was younger, we had a rule that each person could only have one light on at a time. Back in the days of incandescent, instant-on light bulbs, this made perfect sense. Having the light on in a room that you weren’t in was wasteful and lazy. Nowadays, with CFLs and other bulbs with lower energy consumption rates (and are harmed by constantly being turned off and on), this rule is a little more relaxed. We typically turn off lights if we don’t anticipate being in that room in another fifteen minutes.

Phantom Electricity Usage

Another example of wasting electricity has to do with phantom use by appliances with “instant-on” features. Appliances without a hard on-off switch, that breaks a circuit, will still draw electricity when “off.” This is most obvious in the case of microwaves, which obviously use power to light up the clock, but less obvious for appliances like televisions. The easiest way to handle this is to run everything through a surge protector and shutting that off when it’s not needed. Just remember to keep your DVR plugged in so it records your favorite shows. 🙂

One appliance you really need to watch out for are high-definition cable boxes and DVRs – those things use a lot of power [4]. We keep our non-DVR cable box unplugged when we don’t use it.

Adjust Your Thermostat

One of the best secrets to reducing your electricity bill is by tuning your programmable thermostat. Adjusting your thermostat [5] by a degree can result in big savings throughout the season and you may not even notice a change in comfort level.

Those are just three ideas on how you can reduce electricity usage to reduce waste but it’s a good start. Just walk around your house and see what devices are drawing energy and whether or not you can reduce it. It may not save you a ton of money but it’s better for those dollars to stay in your wallet, rather than go to the utility company.

(Photo: daveknapik [6])