By Sergei Poljak
Although it may not occur to you, there is a special someone paying that electricity bill every month at your home. Unfortunately, citizens of Connecticut have the highest electric bill in the country, at 24 cents per kW/h. I’ve asked a few students to see what they were paying, and although I did not get any answers, the fact is that you are most likely paying over two hundred dollars a month for your power. That’s equivalent to about 2400 a year, and it’s only one utility bill! However, you don’t just have to sit and watch as you get ripped off every month. There are many simple steps you can take to combat high electric bills. You may ask, “Will I have to sacrifice my well being?” Well, you may have to give up a few simple luxuries but, at the end of the year, you will have saved much more money than you would have thought possible.
Image from Wayne White Coop
You may have heard of simple measures such as unplugging your cell phone charger, but the simple truth is that it won’t make the slightest difference. You’re going to have to work slightly harder if you want to reduce. A good beginner step would be to replace all your incandescent light bulbs with CFL’s if you haven’t already. CFL’s will save you about $40 a year, and they last 5 times longer than regular incandescent ones. It may cost you an initial amount (about $2 per bulb) but, in the long run, they will save you a significant amount. Furthermore, simply turning things off when you’re not using them is a great way to save money. For instance, TV’s and computers can all be turned off when not in use. So can lights and radios. You may not think about these things very often, but they are a major contributor to the energy that we use. The average American is not home for at least 8 hours a day. Those are 8 hours when nothing should be running, not even the heat (This includes radios and computers, which should be turned off when not in use). Don’t worry, your pipes won’t freeze, and when you get home, the heat will warm you up within minutes. If it’s slow, well, why do you buy sweatshirts? Lastly, if you really want to get serious, purchase space heaters, which heat only the room you’re in. They may not be entirely practical, but they can save you up to $1000 a year.
If you’ve been looking to replace any appliances, try looking at the energy star rating. The lower the wattage is (big number on the sticker), the more energy efficient. Often times a more efficient machine will be less expensive in the long run, even if it seems pricey to start. One highly suggested switch is that of electric heat (stove, hot water heater etc.) to gas. Natural gas is cleaner for the environment, cheaper, and much higher quality than electrical heat. If you happen to be looking into air conditioners, try looking at ceiling fans. They are fairly effective, and can save you in upwards of $700 a year. Sure, your house may not be as cool as you’d like it, but would you rather be able to afford college, or have it five degrees cooler when you’re at home. Once again, whether you use ceiling fans or airconditioners, they should be off when you’re not home. I’m sure everyone will be able to wait those few painful minutes until the house cools down.
Even if you refuse to change your ways, I hope you think of the wasteful lifestyle that we, as Americans, live. Most people in the world don’t have heat or air conditioning, so at least be thankful that you do. Lastly, tell your parents about this. Take initiative and encourage them. Just tell them how much money they’ll save, and I’m sure they’ll agree.