Guest Blog Post by Tricia Romano
Although winter has come and gone, it’s still as good a time as any to hunt down new ways to save on your electric bill. Here are a few ideas and products to get you started.
Time It If you’re like most people, you leave the gadgets in your house plugged in while you’re away at work or sleeping at night. But as long as those cell phone chargers, laptops and kitchen appliances stay plugged in, they’ll be silently sucking up energy. Obviously, there are some things that can’t come unplugged (the fridge, for instance), but others like your microwave, big-screen TV and your printer don’t need to be on 24/7. You can buy a timer to shut off certain devices at specified times when you know you won’t be needing them. The Brinks Indoor Digital 7 Day, 6 Event Timer ($18.77) comes with a removable setting screen, so you can change the timing without unplugging everything.
Use the Sun In this energy-efficient age, people are turning to a cleverer yet simple way to keep appliances and gadgets running: solar power. Now, you don’t have to go all out and install a full-fledged solar-powered roof to juice your house. Just use new solar battery chargers that can power and charge reusable batteries or your smaller electronic devices. Lowe’s sells the Sunforce 5-Watt Solar Battery Trickle Charger (two-pack for $153.30), which will power 12-volt batteries used in cars, boats and deer feeders. Or use a solar-powered desk lamp like HomeSelects eLight ($79.97). This contemporary lamp is sold at Home Depot and comes with a removable battery charger that can also fire up cell phones.
Change It Up This year, incandescent lightbulbs are going to be phased out of the market. A change from ye olde tungsten bulbs to the newfangled compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) began in 2007 as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act. When compared to the warm light emitted by an incandescent bulb, CFLs shine brighter and remind us more of the tint of bland offices and cubicles. At first, people were resistant to the weird-looking, swirly CFLs. But after word spread about their ability to cut energy costs, folks signed up for the new lightbulbs in droves. Incandescent bulbs will soon be as antique as the Edison-style lightbulbs with carbon filaments that are so trendy in hip restaurants and bars. Get a pack of four 14-watt EcoSmart Soft White CFL Light Bulbs ($6.97) at Home Depot.
You can also opt for LED lights, which use solid-state lighting technologies and can save you money in the long run. Plus, LEDs emit a warmer, prettier light than most CFLs. The Department of Energy estimates LED lighting could save consumers $265 billion and reduce electricity use by 33 percent by 2027. While LED lights have a high initial cost, they can last up to 27 years if used an average of three hours a day. The Philips 10-watt (60W) LED A19 Soft White lightbulb costs $49.97 for a single bulb but can save you $165 in energy costs.
Get a Gold (Energy) Star Appliances are big and take up a lot of room, but we don’t think about them as being energy suckers. Still, that fridge, washer and flat-screen LCD TV can seriously drain your electricity. Since 1992, the makers of these appliances have been eager to get a high Energy Star rating. Energy Star is a joint program between the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency. If a product is Energy Star–certified, it uses between 20 percent and 30 percent less energy than required by federal standards. So take that old brick of a fridge still kicking around from 1975 and replace it with a top-of-the-line one like the GE Wide Side-by-Side Refrigerator in Stainless Steel ($1,349.10), which has a Tier 1 Energy Star rating. This fridge, which is sold at Home Depot, might be pricey, but it’ll save you money in the long run.
Guest author Tricia Romano regularly writes for RetailMeNot. Make your savings even more significant by using Home Depot coupons from RetailMeNot.com.