Lower Electricity Costs by Reducing Standby Power – DFA Tip of the Week – 5/18/2009

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There are many ways to reduce costs in our every day lives, so to help do just that each Monday (or maybe later in the week) I will post a money saving “Tip of the Week”.

“And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.”  – Luke 19:17

This weeks tip involves…reducing your electricity bill by turning off certain breakers.

The Problem

I’m sure you’ve heard it before…your cell phone charger (and/or other electronic devices) hog power even when not in use.

Standby power (aka vampire power, phantom load, low power mode, or leaking electricity) – energy consumed by devices when they’re plugged in but not in use – costs the average American household between $200 – $300 a year and typically accounts for 5 – 10% of total residential electric consumption.

Today I will show you my action plan to reduce this problem in my home.

Here are examples of devices in your home that drain standby power as long as they are plugged into a live power source:

  • Satellite DVR boxes
  • Notebook (laptop) computers
  • Home audio systems
  • Televisions (especially rear projection)
  • DVD players
  • Microwave ovens
  • Cell phone chargers
  • Night lights – most people leave them plugged in & running 24/7/365
  • Alarm clocks – electric ones of course

One common solution you will hear is to install power strips in areas with many electronic devices – such as your entertainment center or office desk.  I have a easier, quicker, & cheaper solution!

So What’s The Answer?

To reduce the consumption of standby power in our home, without paying for a bunch of power strips, I looked no further than our home breaker box.

First I strategically marked any breaker not requiring a live power connection during the course of a normal day with blue tape, then added a quick & simple step to my daily routine.  Every morning before leaving for work I head down to the basement and flip any breakers marked with the blue tape.  When I get home, I head back down to the basement and flip the breakers back to their live position.

I made sure not to include breakers connected to necessary appliances such as my refrigerator, freezer, and range oven (because I don’t like resetting its digital clock every day).

Some may find this information incredibly useful while others may deem it a waste of time.  To the latter I remind you that every penny counts and the more areas you cut costs, the quicker you reduce your debt, and the quicker you’re able to reach financial freedom.  I have been employing this tip for some time now and find the implementation into my daily routine was adopted with nearly zero inconvenience.  The most time consuming part of the entire exercise is deciphering which breakers you can flip and which you must leave powered on.

On that note let me tell you why we leave some on:

  • Garage – because we didn’t leave it on at first then came home in a rain storm and couldn’t open the garage door!
  • Sump – do I really need to explain this one?  Okay, I will…we don’t want to come home to a flooded basement.
  • Furnace – I’m still debating whether or not I could turn this off.  Right now I am doing so in the summer, but not in the winter.
  • Basement – because we need light in the basement in order to turn the breakers on & off.
  • Family room, kitchen lights, master bedroom, microwave, and range (as mentioned above) are all left on because they have digital clocks that I got sick of resetting every day.  This sort of defeats the purpose, so after writing this post I’m recommitting myself to turning these off, then just resetting the clocks.  I’ll probably just never reset certain clocks, like on the range since there is a battery operated wall clock right next to it.

What do you think?  Is this something you would implement into your life to save a few hundred bucks a year?  Before you answer, let me leave you with this famous yet brilliantly simple quote:

“A penny saved is a penny earned!”

– Benjamin Franklin

Click here to see all our past DFA Tips of the Week.

DFA is passionately dedicated to helping others break the bondage of debt using biblical principles.



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