Save on electricity by cutting down

This article was originally published on Monday, 18 March 2013 as the Money Matters article in the Guam Pacific Daily News (PDN).  Click here to subscribe to the PDN.

The past few weeks I have been answering a reader’s question on how to save money in these tight financial times. The cost of living definitely has increased and so have our utility bills, especially for electricity. Being diligent can keep you on budget.

Hot water heater. Since you are not home for most of the day you do not need your hot water heater running while you are gone. Turn on your hot water heater 20 minutes before your morning shower. Turn it off when you are ready to leave the house. You can buy a hot water timer to turn the heater off or on at times that are convenient for you. Also, check the temperature setting on the heater. Set the thermostat to a lower but comfortable temperature.

Air conditioners. Split and window air conditioners use less energy than central air conditioning. This is because you do not have to cool the whole house. Instead, you can choose to cool the rooms that are currently being used. Also set your air conditioner to a temperature that is comfortable. You also could use a fan to help circulate the air creating a feeling of the room being a few degrees cooler. Regularly clean air filters so that air flows effortlessly in and out of the air conditioner.

Shade. If you have large trees near your house use them to keep direct sunlight from hitting the wall or roof. Use storm shutters to block the sun from heating windows while you are at work. Another idea is to purchase black-out curtains for your windows.

Unplug phantom or vampire loads. These are electronics you have plugged in that draw electricity even when you are not using them. Cellphone chargers, DVD/VCR players, gaming consoles and more. By unplugging these items that use electricity without being “on” you can reduce consumption that is equivalent to that of a 75 to 100 watt light bulb running continuously.

Computers. Use the sleep mode feature on your computer and configure it to hibernate after 30 minutes of non-use.

Light bulbs. Technology has revolutionized light bulbs. Have you ever stood next to a lamp with a conventional light bulb? You can feel the heat radiating from it. Newer light bulbs give off much less heat. Although the traditional light bulbs are not as expensive, they use more power and do not last as long. CFL (Compact Florescent Lamp) and LED (Light Emitting Diodes) are more expensive, but use less power and last much longer.

Make it a habit to read your meters and compare it to the reading on your last bill. Share these tips with family members and especially children so the whole household is on board to save.

Michael Camacho is president and chief executive officer of Personal Finance Center. He has more than 20 years of experience in retail banking and with financial institutions in Guam and Hawaii. If there is a topic you’d like Michael to cover, please email him at and read past columns at the Money Matters blog at


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