January 2, 2007
Compact Flourescents and Other Energy Tricks - Ten Years of Saving
I've been fighting a losing battle with my energy usage for a good 2 years. With over 4 computers, three TVs and attendant recorders, two printers, a fax, two freezers, two fridges, two A/C units and two microwaves, my electric bill is routinely astronomical.
I have found ways to save. The biggest savings has come from efficiency, not reducing equipment. Buying more efficient electric appliances and light bulbs is why my utility bill (PG&E, among the most expensive in the nation) does not equal or exceed my rent (in Silicon Valley, also among the most expensive in the nation).
I can't convince my roomies that the extraneous TVs and recording devices should be turned off. Same with certain computers and monitors. So I have to save elsewhere.
I started with "CFL"s - compact fluorescent lights. Egad, did I get resistance - "they buzz", "they hurt my eyes", "they don't fit", blah, blah, blah. So I started with the porch light, which was a PITA to have to always replace. Then my bedroom, and the bathroom. The kitchen was next, then I snuck one in on the stove hood - it was always on. The clip lamps and other spot sources got them next, because I stopped buying anything else!!! Now the one die hard roomie uses adapters and 15 watt incandescent bulbs to supply his "low light" addiction. The rest are "squiggle bulbs".
Next came the computer monitors. A CRT monitor uses twice to 3 times what a comparable screen area LCD uses. A CRT also weights more, and eats up more desk space. So when I started digging out of the dot bomb slump, the first thing I started doing was "upgrading" my monitors, and downgrading my energy use.
Finally, I got really spendy. When I moved recently, I went ahead and bought new air conditioners, with really good energy ratings. While they didn't get installed until the height of the heat wave this last summer, they still are a savings over the previous ones. Now, some will say "you don't need A/C", but with my physical limitations, yes, I do, or I get a really nasty rash under my bad arm. Cooling the bedroom to 75 degrees so I can sleep without stewing in my own juices is a good idea.
I am infamous for scoping out sales. I bought CFLs by the dozen, when they were on sale, or clearance. When a light fixture takes 4 bulbs, swapping in squiggle bulbs for all of them saves a chunk. But it requires lots of bulbs.
Finding LCD monitors on sale was a bit harder. Some of the brands that are available cheaply aren't very reliable. So I watch the ads, and will even do the rebate go 'round. That process is still somewhat slow, but getting there.
The newer A/C units were on an off-season clearance. I bought them in February, not July. You can save up to $5 per unit that way.
The biggest cost was time to convince people to change, and the time to find the sales. Since I do a lot of online price monitoring now anyway, the costs have reduced significantly from when I first started.