It is practical to lower utility bills through energy efficiency and pave the way for alternative power measures. By minimizing electrical demand it is possible for things like solar panels to account for a larger portion of the necessary supply.
A number of things can be done to lower utility bills through energy efficiency. Common targets for reducing power usage include appliances, lighting, water heaters, weatherization, and heating and cooling units. Great strides in cutting power demand can be taken at little or no cost to homeowners or businesses. Many involve simply changing the behavior that governs the way in which power is used.
The easiest way to lower utility bills through energy efficiency quickly is by turning off lights that are not in use. Lighting improvements are also one of the best places to invest if purchasing new equipment. Typical upgrades include installing high efficiency (HE) lighting and motion sensors. Although the compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) and light emitting diode (LED) bulbs have a higher face value, they have a significantly longer lifespan and use much less electricity, which means they pay for themselves many times over.
Appliances draw a lot of electricity, even when not in use. Unplugging unused electronics or using smart power strips reduces electrical loads. Deciding what to take from a refrigerator before opening the door and only using dishwashers and laundry equipment with full loads will lead to savings. HE appliances will prove to be economical when making new purchases.
Reducing the temperature of a water heater is a simple way to save money. Water heaters using a tank must constantly maintain a high temperature, so tankless water heaters are a great alternative that only operate when there is a demand.
Programmable thermostats increase and decrease the temperature settings automatically at various times during the day. By reducing the demand on heating and cooling equipment one can lower utility bills through energy efficiency. This is done by allowing the temperature to increase somewhat on hot days and decrease on cold days when the structure is uninhabited or people are asleep. Although the programmable thermostat is helpful, it is also possible to save money by making the changes manually when leaving the home or office.
Weatherization by sealing leaks with caulk and adding insulation costs almost nothing, but ensures that money is only spent controlling temperatures indoors. Controlling the sun’s effect on room temperatures by using curtains, blinds, or window films can have surprisingly satisfying results.
Once lower utility bills through energy efficiency is achieved, alternative power sources become much more practical. The following example does not account for upfront costs. Imagine power costs 10¢ per kWh and homeowners can install a solar system that produces 10 kWh of power per day. If the house consumes 40 kWh per day, the homeowner pays $4. If they are able to reduce consumption by 25%, only 30 kWh are used each day at a cost of $3. By using solar and efficiency measures, only two additional kWh are needed at a cost of $2. If power prices increase, so do the savings. At 15 cents per kWh, it would cost $6, $4.50 and $3 per day respectively. This is why in a time of increasing energy costs small changes can make a rather huge difference.