Turn Off the Lights: Tips & Trick to Spend Less on your Electricity Bill
Living alone can be great; all the freedom it affords you and the feeling of independence is something we’ve all longed for since we were kids, but then the downsides of adulting kick in and you start to worry about how to afford your bills, chief of which would be your electrical bill. With how expensive electricity is in the Philippines (we have the highest electricity rates in Southeast Asia, though one is left to ponder if we’re getting the most bang for our buck), any and all ways to save on the bill are a welcome suggestion; keeping that in mind, here are some ways you can better conserve energy in your home unit.
1) Make sure you select the appropriate appliance for your needs.
It really isn’t just how you use the appliances in your unit that is important to conserving energy, but also what you place inside your unit in the first place is key to conserving power. For example, you only need a 0.75 hp air conditioner for a unit with a floor area of 11 to 14sqm; conversely, a larger area like 26 to 28sqm would require an air conditioner with around 2.0hp to keep the room at an evenly cool temperate. Too small an air conditioner for a larger area may result in requiring more appliances to keep it cold while too large an air conditioner for a smaller area is a waste of the air conditioner’s capacity and may result in turning the unit on and off repeatedly to maintain a good temperature. Either way, neither would be the most ideal use for it so before bringing in an airconditioning unit, make sure to check the dimensions of your apartment to figure out what size you really need.
2) Take only what you really need.
You don’t have to have a fully decked-out pad complete with all the appliances you can find in SM Appliances or Abenson or whatnot; all you really need is the essentials: an induction cooker for all your food preparation needs, a rice cooker because we’re Filipino, an electric fan/air conditioner because we live in the Philippines, a compact refrigerator for storage, an all-around microwave oven for when cooking is just too tiring, and a TV because how would you Netflix and chill otherwise?
As tempting as it may be at times to buy the newest appliances and furnish our homes to the nines, one must always err on the side of practicality; and practically speaking, those six appliances are generally what you would need to live comfortably. There are other ways to go around the lack of some appliances; for example, one of the habits I always use here and when I travel is to hang clothes up on the door while I shower on high heat. The steam from the shower smoothens out the clothes, basically acting as a free and natural iron.
3) Unplug whatever you’re not using.
It is one of the oldest tips taught to us, and there is definitely a reason it has stood the test of time. Unplugging your television, laptop, chargers, and other appliances while they are not in use or when you leave your home saves power and minimizes the wear and tear on your electronics. A small addendum to this would be to use a table lamp or one you can pin to the wall when you need to read or work instead of turning on all the lights for the room.
4) Keep your refrigerator stocked, mostly.
Considering that refrigerators usually eat around 15 to 20% of your electricity charges, it is wise to be more prudent in how you use it. The old familiar tip was not to open the unit too often, as heat enters and the engine works overtime to keep the inside cool. You might be shocked to learn, however, is that the effect is doubled if the refrigerator is close to empty as more cold air escapes when the door is opened, leading to more heat required and more work for the engine, and so on. Bearing this in mind, it is advisable to fill the fridge with the necessities like bottled water or juice to displace the empty air and help keep the interior cool as well. A balance must be struck, though, as overloading the refrigerator will cause the engine to work overtime as well.
5) Embrace off-peak times.
There are certain hours in a day where more tenants are more likely to use their appliances and there are times when almost no one will (probably) be using their appliances; these are referred to as on-peak and off-peak hours. Generally, electricity consumption costs less during off-peak hours (around 9PM to 8AM) so it might be best to consider maximizing the use of your appliances at these times.
6) Start on weather stripping.
We’ve all heard our parents say, “‘Nak, i-sarado mo na yung pinto. Lalabas yung lamig.” This next tip takes that to a different level. Weather stripping is basically sealing the gaps around your doors and windows so that the interior air stays inside the room, reducing the energy airconditioning units would use on keeping a room cold. There are many options for you, depending on the material and what entryway to use it on:
V strip / tension seal - This is used typically along the sides of a double-hung or sliding window, or on the top and sides of a door.
Felt - This goes around a door or window sash, or into the jamb of a door so that it compresses against the door.
Foam - This should be found at the top and bottom of window sashes, or inside door frames.
Door sweeps - This is attached along the bottom of the interior side of a door.
Tubular rubber, vinyl, or silicone - This should be stuck or fastened at the base of a door or window, at the top or bottom of a window sash, at the bottom of a door, or between a door and its jamb.
Electricity and money are two precious commodities, and there is no reason not to try and be more prudent with our usage of either. With these tips, you should begin to see some changes in your electricity consumption in the next months.