What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Electricity Conservation

Originally the TOU electricity pricing came into effect in Ontario to promote energy conservation.  The concept was rather simple.  Shifting certain electricity usage to off-peak hours it would lessen the strain on the aging electrical grid in Ontario as well as to help phase in green sources of energy.  In light of this I thought I would share a few electricity conservation tips:

  • lighting - In Ontario lighting comprises 4% of the electricity used portion of the bill which 43% of the total bill or $1.72 but in reality with service charges lighting costs $4 per month.  In the big picture aside of switching to CFL and/or solar there really is very little that can be done with respect to lighting to save money.  The mantra as always is off is better than on but quite frankly there will be little noticeable difference if you forget to turn off a CFL.  Now every little bit helps so get into the habit of turning off lights.  An alternative is to install solar tubes wherever possible in your home.  Candle light is nice at night but it does cost about 3X as much as electricity so while it is nice for atmosphere it is not a practical substitution.  
  • washer - Switching running the washer using cold water from on-peak to off-peak hours with save 5¢ per load.  At one or two loads per week there isn't much incentive but at 5 loads that's 25¢ or $13 per year.
  • dryer - If you have a gas dryer the electricity used is miniscule likely less than a penny per load if that.  If you have an electric dryer the best bet is to use air drying of some sort either by hanging the clothes indoor or outdoors to dry eliminating the electric dryer use entirely.  There are a number of outdoor and indoor drying devices, even fold up ones that take up little space when not in use. 
  • in the kitchen - Some small electric kitchen appliances earn their keep while others are a waste of electricity.  Barring motility issues an electric can opener is a waste of electricity.  When it comes to cooking choose the least expensive piece of equipment or electrical appliance to get the same results.  Based on our previous prices that have gone up but comparisons remain the same, a table top roaster costs 18¢/kWh while an the oven costs 31¢, the slow cooker 4¢ and the large burner 25¢ per kWH.  On the surface the slow cooker looks to be the best deal but consider a slow cooker running for 8 hours costs 32¢ (almost doubled with new rates running between 7 AM and 9 PM weekdeays) while the same meal can be cooked in a pressure cooker in 40 minutes or about 18.75¢.  A table top roaster will give the same great results as an oven while using almost half the electricity.   A stand mixer is cheaper to run than a breadmachine and more versatile.  Manual options exist for a lot of small kitchen appliances so these are always an option.
  • large kitchen appliances - Refrigerators need to be kept clean and decluttered to allow good air flow.  Use a refrigerator thermometer to ensure the cabinet temperature is set to the safe zone.  Freezers waste a lot of energy unless kept about three quarters full.  It's better to have 2 small chest freezers rather than one large one.  Use the second to take any seasonal overflow then allow it to dwindle down and leave unplugged until the next influx of freezer food.  The oven should be maximized for energy efficiency when using.  Cook the entire meal or multiple dishes it it at one time.  Unless baking, pre-heating is a waste of electricity.  When cooking on the stovetop match the size pan to the burner to prevent heat wastage.  Use a lid.  Choose steaming over boiling for vegetables.  The dishwasher should only be run wihen completely filled and during off-peak hours if at all possible. 
  • the furnace - If you have a furnace that runs on natural gas it still takes a significant draw on electricity to run the fan.  If you have a natural gas fireplace it is cheaper to run it for radiant heat than the furnace in the cool but not cold months.  Solar heating is good for supplemental heat as well.  Radiant wood heat is also another good supplemental source of heat providing you can get wood for less than the cost of electricity.  
  • hot boxes - Hot boxes include cable and satellite receivers, game consoles, and those types of electrical items.  They produce heat when they are running costing much more in electricity than you would think.  Even when they are off these boxes are using electricity.  These should be put on a power bar to be turned off when not in use. 
  • phantom drains - A lot of little things add up to electrical enery wastage.  These include night lights, appliances with displays, alarm clocks, phone set adapters, programmable thermostats, battery charges, some small appliances and those types of things use a trickle of electricity on a constant basis.  Unplug and eliminate what you can.  Replace nightlights with flashlights and electric alarm clocks with wind-up models.  Unplug appliances especially those with lit displays when not in use. 

Garden Gnome