Friday, December 5, 2008

What's Eating Your Money?

One of the park managers and I got to talking about energy usage and the small steps which each of us might take to reduce our energy consumption. I told her I'd been thinking about putting together a "newsletter" about how to save energy, money and the environment when you live in an RV. I was planning to take the newsletters around and leave them with each of the park's 20-25 permanent residents. She thought it was a great idea, and offered to give one to each tenant on our next rent day. So I've been working on my first "Energy Newsletter".

Taking into account appliances, heating/cooling and travel, the average British Columbian is responsible for 11.5 tonnes of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions each year. That's a lot. The BC Government is encouraging everyone in the province to reduce energy usage and GHG. But before you can reduce you have to have some idea of how much you are responsible for. You can calculate your estimated GHG production here.

I used the BC GHG calculator and our calculated average household GHG emissions is 1.139 Tonnes of GHG Per Year. That's just 10% of the average! So from an energy miser here are some of the tips from my newsletter. You don't have to live in an RV to use these!

Did you know that a single 100 watt incandescent bulb costs $96.00 a year to light? Turning off the light(s) when you leave a room puts money in your pocket! Replacing regular light bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs can save substantial amounts of money. CFLs use 70% less energy than regular light bulbs, last about 10 times as long and produce light similar to regular bulbs. If you can, replace some lights with LED “light bulbs” (LEDs grouped together into a fixture) which typically draw from one to two watts. They are still a bit expensive but they burn up to 50,000 hours without replacing, so pay for themselves many times over.

Cost for 12 hrs use day
----------------Month------ Year--- Savings Month-- Savings Year

Six 75 watt
Incandescent bulbs --$13.00----$156.00---- ~ -------- ~

Six Compact fluorescent bulbs
= 75 watts each ------$4.00---- $38.00 ---- $9.00 ----- $118.00

Six LED lights
= 75 watts each ------$0.50 ---- $6.00 --- $12.50 ------$150.00

Power Down!

TVs, DVD players, stereos, computers, modems, cable boxes and chargers draw power, even when they are not turned on! A cable modem uses seven watts, a router 4.5 watts, and computers from 10-100 watts, even when idle. You can save money by pthese power hungry doo-dads into a power bar. Before going to bed, or going out for the day, turn the power bar off. Turn your computer off at the end of the day, or put it in “sleep” mode. Rather than leave the coffee pot on all day, just to keep the coffee hot, use a carafe and save power!

The myth that "turning it off and on uses more energy than keeping it on all the time" exists for just about every device, and it's wrong in every single case. You will never, ever, ever, save power by keeping something on all the time vs. turning it off. Period. You always save electricity by turning your device off when you're not using it.

Of course, light isn't everything. It's cold comfort if your light bulbs are costing you next to nothing while you freeze! To increase comfort and/or decrease fuel bills, try these tactics;

If you don't have storm windows use transparent plastic “shrink” film to cover windows. It's available at the hardware store or builder's supply in boxes or by the roll. Is there a draft around your windows and doors? Caulk around all window and door frames. A surprising amount of cold air leaks through electrical switch plates which are located on exterior walls. You can buy foam cell insulating "kits" at the hardware store. You slip the insulation behind the switch plate to stop the draft.

Turn down your thermostat to 21° during the day and 18° at night. could cut your heating bills by up to 12%. If you feel cold, pop on an extra layer of clothing, like a T shirt, under a shirt or sweater. Keep a throw handy to pull over your knees while reading or watching TV.

Want more tips? Visit these websites:
Saving Electricity
52 Ways to Reduce Your Emissions

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