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For many people, the regular electricity bill accounts for a significant part of the household budget. In fact, the energy bill is often only surpassed by the mortgage or rent payment. It's usually in your best interest to keep it as low as possible, conserving energy and money. Scroll past the jump to learn how to start saving.

1. Check to see if you can get a better contract, or make payments based on average monthly cost. Research online and offline to help you understand your spending. Paying on line can save you and paying quarterly or monthly should be considered. Direct Debit payments sometimes attract a small discount.

  • Determine how much electricity you use. Use the electricity bills from the last year to calculate an approximate value.
  • (If possible) Compare different offers from electrical companies; choose the one that is the cheapest (lowest cost per kilowatt hour).
  • Find out if there is an OFF-PEAK time of the day when the rate is lower and use that time for most electricity needs (e.g. running washing machine, dishwasher, or cooking). This may require additional costs for special metering hardware to track usage during those times.

2. Switch off and unplug devices when not in use. Use a power strip with a switch, that way you'll only have to flip a switch to unplug your devices.

  • If a device doesn't have an on/off switch, use a plug connector with an on/off switch. Connect, for example, your TV and the loudspeakers with a plug connector. You can switch off both devices by just one action. Connect your DVD recorder with a separate socket since it is likely that you would have to readjust it if you switch it off.
  • Some power adapters (transformers for rechargeable appliances) also consume energy. Unplug them when not in use.

3. Refrigerator, Freezer and Fridge:

  1. Put each cooling device in a place which is as cold as possible, away from heat sources like radiators, direct sunlight or other big energy consuming devices.
  2. Check that the cooling device is at least 5cm (2 inches) away from the wall, and that the air can circulate well.
  3. Increase the inner temperature of the cooling devices. 7°C (45°F) is enough for the fridge and -18°C (0°F) is enough for the freezer.
  4. Keep the cooling devices tidy; label the items in the freezer, so that you can get to the food as quick as possible. It's not working efficiently whenever the door is open so standing there with the door wide open digging for the cholchlate-fudge sundaes isn't a good idea.
  5. Fill unused space with padding such as polystyrene, newspaper or just a blanket.
  6. Keep the doors of these devices closed.
  7. Check the sealing gasket of the cooling devices: Put a switched on torch (or flashlight) in the fridge and close the door. Can you see the light? Check if the sealing gasket is damaged, and buy a new one if necessary.
  8. Act energy efficient. Let food cool down before you put it in a cooling device and slowly defrost food from frozen food in the fridge.
  9. Defrost the freezer if there's a layer of ice.

4. Lights:

  1. Find the most effective places for lights and light switches.
  2. Paint your rooms in a bright color. More light is reflected by brighter walls and so you need less light to make your room bright.
  3. Replace regular light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. It is economical to replace a light bulb if it burns for more than half an hour a day. Use high quality L.E.D. - Light Emitting Diode (Best type) or C.F.L - compact fluorescent bulbs.
  4. Don't use ceiling floodlights, unless they are L.E.D. types.
  5. Install and use dimmer switches at less than full brightness for incandescent lamps and other types (CFL, LED, etc.) that are specifically labeled as suitable for use with a dimmer.

Author: Tin Yuki

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