at left holds a pictorial overview of the average monthly
cost and power consumption of a variety of common
household appliances. Click on it to open it up.
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Chill out in the pool: Not
too many people can pull this one off, but if you have an electric
pool heater, get used to swimming in cooler water. A typical
heater will suck up 3,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a
- A pool blanket can cut heating
costs by 50 to 70 per cent. And a one horsepower swimming pool
pump uses more than 1,000 kilowatt hours of power a month if
it runs 24 hours a day.
- You might consider cutting it
back to six hours a day. If that's too little to keep the pool
clean, increase in half-hour increments each day until you're
The basement guzzler: Yes,
if you have an old beer fridge in the basement, it's probably
costing you money, since older models are energy hogs. The typical
20 cubic foot refrigerator in use in 1992 (counting both old and
new models) used 94 kilowatt hours a month. So if you have an old
clunker chugging away in the basement cooling four cans of Coke
and a jar of pickles, unplugging it could save you some real
money. If you actually use a second fridge, consider the energy
savings of buying a new one: A brand new 1992 model fridge used 66
kilowatt hours a month. An energy efficient model built in 2001
uses only 39 kilowatt hours a month.
Lighten up: Compact fluorescent lights can screw into a
conventional socket used by incandescent lights. And the compact
fluorescents give off far more light per watt of power used than
incandescent lights. A 60-watt incandescent can be replaced
by a 13-watt or 15-watt compact fluorescent.
- A 100-watt incandescent can be
replaced by a 32-watt compact fluorescent. Assuming the
average bulb burns for 24.5 hours a week, replacing 20
incandescent bulbs of 60 watts each with compact fluorescents
will save 96 kilowatt hours a month.
- Replacing 20 incandescent
bulbs of 100 watts each will save 144 kilowatt hours a month.
The drawback: Compact
fluorescent bulbs tend to be bulky and may not fit all lamps or
fixtures. They're also not designed for dimmer switches or
timers. The bulbs are also much more expensive than conventional
incandescent bulbs, but last 10 times longer.
Cheaper heat: If you have
electric heat — the choice of many apartment and condominium
buildings because it's cheap to install — you can't escape big
hydro bills in the winter. But you can cut the bill back if you
can tolerate living in slightly cooler quarters. You
save about 3 per cent of your heating costs for every degree you
lower the temperature. Taking an 800-square-foot apartment heated
by two heaters of 1,500 watts each, plus two of 750 watts each,
lowering the temperature two degrees Celsius will save 81 kilowatt
hours a month during the winter.
Cheaper cooling: According to National Research Council
data, you save 3 to 5 per cent in energy for every degree you
raise the thermostat during air conditioning season in the summer.
Using a 1,500-square-foot house with central air conditioning,
you'll save 32 to 53 kilowatt hours a month during the summer by
raising the thermostat two degrees. You might also think about a
ceiling fan to provide cooling that cuts your use of your air
conditioner. Even running a ceiling fan 24 hours a day consumes
just 43 kilowatt hours a month; running a room air conditioner 50
per cent of the time uses 12 to 18 times that much power. A
portable fan uses twice as much power as a ceiling fan.
Hot water: Electric hot water heaters consume lots of power
— about 700 kilowatt hours a month for a family of four people.
Please don't reset temperatures outside manufacturers' recommended
guidelines. (Water that's too hot can burn; a tank that's too cold
can breed bacteria.) Still, there are ways to trim costs
without adjusting the temperature.
- Get a water heater blanket to
improve the insulation of the tank - it can trim costs a good
- The U.S. publication Home
Energy organization says low flow showerheads can trim power
use by 12.6 per cent, or 88 kilowatt hours a month.
- For laundry, consider cold
water washing where possible, and cold water rinsing at all
times. It will save 4 per cent of laundry costs, or 28
kilowatt hours a month for a family of four.
- A clothesline can save you
money. Running a dryer 20 hours a month will cost you 100
kilowatt hours. A clothesline's operating costs are
- A dishwasher that runs 20
times a month uses 13 kilowatt hours a month on the heat dry
setting. Switching to air dry saves 10 per cent.
- A computer uses twice as much
power as a television, on average. A television in use 200
hours a month uses 20 kilowatt hours. A computer racks up the
same energy usage in 100 hours of use; the monitor soaks up
the bulk of the energy, so set it to shut down after 10
minutes idle time - and ditch the screensaver because it's not
saving you any electricity!