Electricity, My Pocketbook, and the Environment (part 2)


Turning off the Light Bulbs, TV, and Pull the Plug on Chargers

Mobile Phone Chargers

It turns out that a cell charger uses quite a bit of power just being plugged in. That means when the phone is fully charged, well, every minute after that is a waste of electricity. The power drain (http://www.treehugger.com/culture/treehugger-homework-unplug-your-cellphone-charger.html) is amazing and sickening at the same time.

Today I’m timing my phone to see how long it takes to charge and then unplug it. Once I know how long it takes, I’ll be able to set a kitchen timer and then unplug the phone (without constantly checking it). Some phones will chime an alert when fully charged but being hearing impaired, I like to have a ballpark estimate. I just love kitchen timers, not sure how much difference it will make but willing to try. I sure won’t be leaving it plugged in overnight anymore! I also found a bunch of solar chargers on Amazon.com and am snapping one up an extra to use on the go, at work, and when camping.


We have been trying to adopt new habits that will cut our dependence on the public electrical grid. So far it has been hard to remember all the new things to do each day and we are constantly reminding each other when we slip up. But I know it will get easier and each new habit will become a way of life.

The habit for today is for me to start unplugging things when I am done using them. I have to tell you that this one delights my Hubs, AKA “Mr. Safety.” He would unplug the fridge when I wasn’t looking if I wasn’t careful. Ha! No, really, he has been trying to get me to unplug for years.

Play Detective 

Looking for ways to cut the electricity has become a bit of a CSI experience in our home. I’ll find myself standing in front of an appliance, scratching my head, and wondering exactly what it costs to operate. Then, there is my trusty new friend, the Kill-A-Watt meter to measure the usage and set the issue to rest.

Some things aren’t so simple to measure but yet we know they make a difference. Insulation, for instance, helps conserve but is difficult for homeowners to measure–without waiting for the fuel and electric bill.

Sadly, my home is an oldie and needs some attention in the insulation area. I found some great videos on YouTube.com that show it step by step. My hope is by bringing the insulation up to par we will reduce the number of times the furnace cuts on and off, thus saving electricity and biofuel. We may also be able to nix some of the electric wall heater use.


This one probably goes without saying, except we don’t actually DO it all the time.

You guessed it! Turning the lights out when we leave the room. When prompted, I always respond with something like, “I was going right back in there.”  The truth is I get pretty sidetracked, hence the kitchen times clipped to my collar. Ha ha ha.

Repeat after me: “I do pledge to make an effort to turn out the lights in the room as I leave. I agree to thank the person who reminds me and not to make up an excuse. I also agree to use daylight if overhead lighting is not needed.”

It doesn’t seem like much, but in my house, it’s huge. People can always tell when I’m home because the house is lit up like a Christmas tree. I go to one room for something and then flit off for something else. Before I know it, there are lights turned on in every room! And don’t even think about what happens if I need to run to do a quick errand. Oh, my! This could save me a ton of money.

Electricity, My Pocketbook, and the Environment (part 1)

Turning on the Light Bulb

Today is not the beginning of a quest but the extension of one that has been going on for many years. In 2004 our family used 14,060 kWh over the course of the year. That was the year we did our first electricity challenge. In 2008 I shared my challenge with others. In 2016, we were down to 11,043 kWh. That was in spite of having two new buildings and electric heating units installed in three rooms.

Over the next few months, I have promised myself to re-research and carry through on the things I need to do to tweak my energy usage even more.
In the past I have just implemented energy savings ideas with no strategy on how to get from point A to point B. Sure, they probably helped, but did I miss some? Quite likely! Am I still missing them? Certainly.

The US Dept of Energy has great information on choosing a company to do an energy audit and what to do to get ready. http://tinyurl.com/6bb4lz For more information on energy audits go to http://tinyurl.com/6q3vqb
A few years ago, our local news did a piece on energy audits and used Chopper 10 to evaluate heat loss with heat seeking radar and some other fancy electronics. Wouldn’t it be cool to have that done?
Now, I have an idea of what they look for. I will contact some companies and see about having the audit performed, but for now, I will start my own list.


CFLs and LED technology

A great debate has begun over the safety of using CFL bulbs in the home, considering that they contain a small amount of mercury. As a person who is chemically sensitive from previous overexposures to hazardous materials, I want things to be safe.

I have a choice if I want to use technology which requires less electricity: CFL bulbs or LED components.

CFLs contain varying amounts of mercury so they could be a hazard if broken in the home and not cleaned up properly. I am going to need to weigh the dangers carefully. http://tinyurl.com/yq8a6l Energy Star puts out an informational pdf to help. http://tinyurl.com/2elryb Unbroken CFLs should be recycled and broken CFLs should be cleaned up properly. Check out the links if you want to educate yourself on how to do it. The CFLs contain much less mercury than the fillings in my teeth. EEK, is that a good thing? The good news is that the amount of mercury is being reduced dramatically.

While CFLs are readily available, I may choose to use LEDs in areas where they may come in contact with children or pets and use CFLs where they are not likely to get broken.  For more info on LEDs go to http://tinyurl.com/6ns7zl

I’ve discovered a site http://www.eartheasy.com , and ordered a few goodies to try. First, I scooped up an amber LED bug light for outside.  It’s about three times more expensive than the traditional incandescent we used to buy. However, it will use less electricity and that reduces mercury emissions into the air at the power plant side. Yippee! It’s one good thing for the environment that will also help on the electric bill. Another source for LEDs is http://tinyurl.com/6krxb7,  and http://tinyurl.com/5rjrkm .
I’m changing the bulbs in my home (about 2300). Some bulbs have already been changed, so I’ll have a head start. A few years ago, I put in natural light fluorescents in the office to help fight a vitamin D deficiency. A side is that the natural light bulbs lift mood and can prevent seasonal affective disorder, which can strike during the winter.

Benefits all around.