Smart Energy: Make summer savings your goal
By Todd C. Munsey and Sam Carter
While your energy bills are the lowest this time of year (curiously, consumers aren’t demanding an explanation as to why their bills are so low), there are some opportunities to lower usage even more.
Fans are cheaper to run than air conditioning. Everyone knows that. So how do we use them in unison to keep your air conditioning costs down? No matter how hot it got during our little July heat wave, the evenings still cooled off. Without risking security, open as many windows as you can in the evening, and close them up and draw the shades when it starts to warm up in the morning. If you need to, use your fans to move the air around in your home. You’ll find that the air conditioner won’t come on until later in the a
fternoon. Running it for 4 hours instead of 12 hours saves a considerable amount of energy. With the afternoon breeze we have in this area every day, use it and the cool nights to your energy-saving advantage.
Please say you’re not running your irrigation pump from dusk to dawn because you don’t really know how much water your pasture or lawn really needs. A 1-horse-power pump running 10 hours a day will cost you about $25 per month. Couple that with a few leaks you might have in the system, and your dollars are literally going back down the drain, er, river. You are essentially paying money for nothing.
The great energy-related thing about this time of year is that there is no heating load, and much less cooking load. We spend more time barbecuing outdoors and less time holiday baking indoors. Which leads us to your largest energy consumer this time of year, the water heater. If you have an electric water heater, you will save money by turning it off at the breaker whenever you’re gone for more than two days. You will save no energy turning it off and on every day. If we had time-of-use rates, where it was cheaper during off-peak hours, then it would pencil out. Otherwise, two days is your break-even point.
It’s difficult to do anything about the other appliances that run 24/7, whether you are home or not. Your refrigerator and freezer use a fair amount of electricity, but don’t immediately run out and replace them thinking you will save a ton of energy. When they break down, replace them with the most energy efficient model you can afford. Until then, just keep your teenager from standing there with the door open, staring into the abyss
because there’s nothing to eat.
Lighting is another thing we don’t have to worry about this time of year. Most folks don’t need light until mid-evening, as we have the advantage of late sunsets here. LEDs are finally becoming reasonably priced. I know we were pushing CFLs not too long ago, but get rid of those and replace them with LEDs. The selection is much better as well.
Your goal, regardless of the season, is to use less energy and consequently spend less money. For additional energy saving tips, go to www.dec.coop or www.pacificpower.net.
Todd C. Munsey is the Member Services Director for Douglas Electric Cooperative and Sam Carter is the Regional Business Manager for Pacific Power. Both spend much of their time helping their consumers use less energy. This column is a monthly feature of Douglas County Smart Energy, a project of the Douglas County Global Warming Coalition. For more information on energy efficiency and renewable energy, visit dcsmartenergy.org.