Awhile ago I was talking to my dad and the topic of energy bills came up. We both live in places that are roughly the same size and in the same climate (he’s about 7 miles from me). He was surprised at how much lower my bill was than his; mine includes gas and electric and his only electric. We started to figure out the differences. I have gas hot water, his hot water isn’t included in his bill (he pays it via his HOA dues). I have a gas range, he has an electric range. I have gas heat; he has electric in wall heaters. Neither of us has air conditioning. Since it is the summer, heat could be ruled out and cooking is pretty minor in terms of overall use.
What were the big differences? We started to think and determined that it is probably the computers. My parents each have an iMac that they leave on all the time whereas my wife and I each have a laptop that we put to sleep. In addition, I turn off power strips when not using them and have other powerstrips with timers on them.
So my father decided to turn off his computers and other equipment at night. The first thing he noticed is that there are days that he doesn’t even turn on his computer; he uses his iPhone or iPad to do what he needs to do. When his next bill came, he told me that he saved at least $10. This may not sound like a lot, but that’s over a 10% savings. He’s still not down to my level (could be the TiVo or his stereo amplifier as we don’t have a music system in our house right now), it is encouraging.
We’re lucky that we live in a very temperate climate and that our energy bills are so low; I was talking to some people last month that live in the southeast and my <50 a month bill was peanuts compared to their $400-$500/month bill due to have to heat and cool their houses.
What if other people started doing simple conservation things like this? It would not only be a nice cost savings, but it could lead to being able to turn off a power plant. Who knows.