I was able to save 1700 kwh (kilowatt hours) off last month’s electric bill, cutting my bill in half – and here is how I did it. While this may not have direct bearing on packaging supplies, it may give you ideas for saving energy at your business or home.
Out with the old fridge. Older appliances are not as efficient as most new ones. Look into Energy Star appliances when you are ready to upgrade. My fridge has an electronic thermostat for exact temp controls and a pull-out freezer that doesn’t lose its cool when opened.
I had to replace my air conditioner so I selected one with a relatively high energy efficiency rating of EER14. A lot of AC units are EER9 these days, so go for as high a number as you can get.
Most air conditioners can cool a hot house to a comfortable temp in 30 minutes or less. So there is no need to run it during the day or when you are not at home. Use a programmable thermostat or a timer. I set mine to come on after 5:00 PM and sometimes later. This also will keep your heating/cooling out of the peak demand billing cycle if your electric utility company has that in place.
I insulated all the hot water pipes. It took about $35 to do all pipes in a foam wrap. It was an easy DIY job and the payback was immediate, with less running of water to get to the hot. Water stays hot much longer in the pipes, and with frequent use this makes a big difference.
This year I remodeled my kitchen and installed a new dishwasher. Yep, it’s Energy Star Certified, so not only is it so quiet that I cannot hear it operate, it is saving on energy compared to other older units or to washing dishes by hand in the sink. Contrary to popular opinion, it is more energy efficient to run the dishwasher than to do dishes manually.
I installed an Instant Hot water unit at my Kitchen sink. When I need a little hot water I get it immediately on demand. No wasting water heating up pipes that are 50 feet away just to get a few ounces of super hot H2O. I get it on the spot now and that is much more energy efficient. Plus I’m not heating up 50 gallons of water just for a cup of it.
Default to cold. Even with all the pipe wrap and instant hot water, I still turn the faucet on the kitchen sink to the cold side. Leaving it on hot you will run hot water out which has to be re-heated. Most of the time you don’t need hot water to start with. So get in the habit to flip any single stem faucets to the cold side. When you get done with hot water from the faucet, flip it back to cold.
I’m switching to LED lights. I can light my kitchen using about 12 watts of power. LEDs are the next great thing in lighting, are very bright, very white, last 20 times longer than the CFL bulbs and contain no mercury.
All of the light bulbs in the house are CFL (Compact Fluorescent Light) and will be changed to LED as soon as the price for them starts to get a little more reasonable. And turn the switches off when you are not in the room. I can still hear my Dad harping about that!
Look around for all those obscure plug-in power supplies like cell phone chargers that are wasting energy while not charging your phone or running your desk lamp. You can put them on a switchable outlet, or unplug when not in use.
Insulate. I also have R30 or more insulation factor in the ceiling of my house. A few years back we pumped in loose cellulose (paper) insulation and that made a huge difference year around. Most heat escapes through the roof (heat rises). I also have relatively new double-pane windows which made another huge difference in comfort.
Low Energy Coffee: No, it’s not decaf, either. The coffeemaker I purchased (At Wal-Mart) is a Mr. Coffee model that brews hot and quick, but makes the coffee into an insulated stainless steel carafe. Unlike most other coffee makers this one does not use additional electricity to kept the coffee hot. Typical coffee makers use a warming pad that heats coffee in a glass carafe, but that is very energy greedy. So are the coffeemakers that keep water hot all day long just so you can get a quick pot in the morning. This new style makes coffee quickly and uses a lot less juice!
Low Heat Cookware: Every time you turn on that stove the meter is running, so it stands to reason that if you can cook using less heat, you will consume less power. My new cookware (All Clad brand – Made in the USA) has a copper core that conducts heat very efficiently. So I rarely ever need to turn any burner on more that the setting of “3” (there are 1 -10 settings on my stove). Food cooks well at those lower settings because more heat is actually transferred to the pan. Another electric saver is a gas stove, which provides instant heat and low flame; ceramic stoves are the next best in efficiency.
Other energy users are things like your computer power supplies, Wi-Fi routers, and anything else plugged into your wall that uses a power supply when you don’t really need the device to be on all day and night.
I’m sure there are other great ideas to save energy; but my theory is that I am human, and while I like to live as “green” as possible, I am still basically not willing to be overly inconvenienced to save a watt.
My electric bill for May 2011 was $239, and June $176. My mother who lives just down the road from me actually had a much lower bill than that, but then I have a hot tub, dehumidifiers in the basement and a beer keg. Yes, I’ll sacrifice my living room temp for a cold beer!