Sunday 1 April 2012

It's time to save energy (and money)!

With frequent rises in energy prices, you may have rejoiced with the coming of daylight saving time. But what exactly is DST, and how is it related to your energy bills? The answer may surprise you.
Except for the darkest -- and coldest -- four months of the year, November to February, many areas implement daylight saving time to coordinate waking hours more closely to the rising and setting of the sun. So the next time you hear someone telling you to “spring forward”, keep in mind that it is only so that you can best utilise sunlight in an effort to saving on lighting costs. In the United States, for example, the implementation of daylight saving time resulted in a electricity savings of 0.03 per cent. This may not seem like a figure worth the extra effort, but multiply it by an entire nation’s energy overall consumption, and you’d be impressed.

However, daylight saving time can have its pitfalls. If you are an early riser, for example, the amount of extra electricity that you use getting ready for work during the dark dawn hours could off set your energy savings. Whether this is true or not, there are additional steps you can take to save energy on your next bill.

First, remember to follow your mum’s advice and turn out the lights! This may seem like an insignificant energy cost, but lighting makes up more than a tenth of the typical household energy budget. By flipping the switch whenever you leave a room, you could shave quite a few pounds off of your bill.

And speaking of lighting, another effective way to save energy is to upgrade to compact fluorescent light bulbs if you are still using incandescent bulbs. Fluorescent bulbs use far less energy, meaning that this is a passive way to save energy. Other easy and cheap installations that save energy include programmable thermostats that adjust the temperature when you are not at home and low-flow shower heads that reduce the amount of water you need to heat for a shower.

The kitchen is a great area of the house to think about saving energy because a significant amount of the energy you use goes towards the major appliances found here -- the refrigerator, oven, and dishwasher. In the summer months, you can create a cooler environment by preparing light meals that don’t require the use of a stove, such as salads and sandwiches using all fresh ingredients. And if you need to heat something, using the microwave is less of a drain on your energy than the stove is.

And last but not least, you can sum up your energy savings tidily with a quick survey of your actual energy bill. After doing all of the work around the house to reduce your energy use, make sure that you’re also paying the best price possible by comparing your current tariff to other energy providers in the area. And if you find a cheaper company, do yourself a favour and switch!

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