How to cut your electricity costs

This was originally published on Monday, June 19, 2017, in the Pacific Daily News.  Click here to subscribe to the PDN.

Electricity cost increases are in the news again, prompting some households to take a fresh look at energy consumption. The good news is there’s plenty you can do to lower your bills by changing how and when you use energy.

  • 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 fluorescent lamp) and LED (light emitting diodes) are more expensive, but use less power and last much longer. In the kid’s rooms and bathrooms, I installed light switches that automatically turn off after a set period of time.

  • Reduce the heat in the kitchen: Avoid using the oven in summer — try salads, smoothies or barbecue. You’ll reduce the heat in your home and save on your home cooling costs.
  • Laundry: Use the washer with a full load of clothes. Save even more power by switching from hot to cold water. The dryer uses more power than your washer. You can use the sun to help dry your clothes. Add a clean dry towel to your dryer to help absorb the wetness. If the clothes dry quicker the dryer will not need to run as long.
  • Prevent cold air loss: Add caulking or weather-stripping around doors and windows. It is costly to cool the air in your house. During the summer, be sure the kids do not constantly go in and out of the house.

Air conditioners are costly, so why let cool air escape between windows and door cracks? Installing weather stripping can keep your house cooler and lower your power bill.

  • Ceiling fans: These are a great way to circulate air in a room and keep you comfortable. A ceiling fan can save you about $15 a year per fan.
  • Paint: A great summer project to do before the rainy season is upon us again is to paint your house a color that is light and will not absorb heat. Concrete retains heat and will warm up a home. Your roof gets the most direct sun and can keep heat trapped in your house. Paint your roof with reflecting paint. This may cost a bit more than your typical white paint, but you will be able to feel the difference immediately.
  • Insulation: If your house has a drop ceiling, consider using insulation between the ceiling and the drop ceiling.
  • New appliances: If you are purchasing new appliances, look for Energy Star products. These products have specifications set by the Environmental Protection Agency or the Department of Energy. Many notable name brands carry models that fall under the guidelines of energy efficiency.

If purchasing a new air conditioner look for the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, SEER. The higher the unit’s SEER rating the more energy efficient it is. I recently replaced all major appliances and received a rebate from GPA. GPA may still offer energy efficient rebates for new energy efficient appliances.

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

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