On a homestead, costs matter, especially recurring costs. Things like property tax, insurance, and energy utilization can have significant impact on the cashflow of your homestead.
Spending some time to ensure that your energy utilization is efficient is not only a good cash saving exercise but is also good for the earth. And as a homesteader, that should be very important to you.
What follows are five ways to reduce your energy bill.
Inventory everything that uses power
This is step one to decreasing your energy utilization. Go around your house and make a list of every device that consumes power. Chances are, many of the devices will have their power consumption rates listed on the device, or on its power supply. Note this information! You need to know how many amps a particular device will draw.
Big power utilization is often seen with the dryer, washer, refrigerator freezer, and heating, if you are using electric heat. All of these devices should have power information listed. For items that do not have power consumption listed, or items that are only used sporadically, you could use something like a “Kill-A-Watt” to get an accurate measure of how much energy a particular device is using.
Your energy inventory will tell you where your big energy users are: address them! For some devices, simply unplugging them when not in use will save power. Other devices will need to be replaced. While that twenty year old fridge probably still works great, it’s probably killing you in terms of energy utilization.
Evaluate Your Heating
If you are heating with electricity, you’re in for a world of hurt, as electric heat tends to use a lot of electricity. Depending on your climate, it may be worth investigating something called a “heat pump”. This is a very efficient device that heats and cools electrically, based on temperature differential. The long and the short of it is that they work great between -25 Celcius and +25 Celcius. If your temperatures are in these ranges, odds are a heat pump will be significantly cheaper to heat with when compared to traditional electric heat.
If you are truly interested in reducing your energy consumption, say for a solar deployment, you may have to look at an alternative method of heating. Wood stoves are very popular among the homesteaders, and provide a reliable, relatively cheap way to heat your home. Propane and natural gas are also options, and depending on where you live, may be cheaper than electricity.
Ditch the big screen television
Everyone else is dropping cable, so, why don’t you do so as well? Big televisions and fancy amplifiers tend to use a fair bit of electricity. Although they are much better than past equipment, even the energy efficient large screen TV’s use a fair bit of electricity. If you do decide to keep them, try and limit their use to an hour or two per day. There is so little on television worth watching, that should be more than enough!
Take A Good Look At Your Freezer & Refrigerator
Do you remember your parents scolding you for leaving the fridge open too long? Well, this was for good reason, as the longer you keep the door open, the warmer the fridge gets. When you close the door, the refrigerator must re-cool: this costs electricity. Same deal for the freezer. So, limit the amount of time you spend gazing at your food.
Additionally, both refrigerators and freezers operate most efficiently when they are jammed full of food. It costs more to cool an empty freezer than a full one, so try and keep your cooling devices full of food.
It’s All About the Little habits
There are all sorts of little habits we can change that, taken together, will impact our energy bills. Turn off the lights when you leave a room. Turn off your devices (and unplug them!) when you are not using them. Use a hand tool when an electrical tool is not necessary.
Also, when evaluating the purchase of anything new, take a look at its power consumption! Computers are a great example here, as the difference between a power efficient computer and a non efficient computer are significant! My laptops run at 30 watts, for example, whereas a gaming rig might use ten or twenty times that. Although you need enough computer for the job, a lot of us buy fairly powerful rigs without even considering how much power they use. Although this is wonderful from a computing perspective, it’s not so great when you are trying to keep your power use down.
Electricity costs are going up everywhere, seemingly, so a little time spent on reducing your energy bill will not only help you today, but in the future, to an even greater extent. There are all kinds of ways you can reduce your utilization. The only question is, how far do you want to go?