[Masthead] Fair ~ 46°F  
High: 68°F ~ Low: 43°F
Monday, May 2, 2016

Extension Line

Friday, June 18, 2010

With the weather heating up and the desire to use the home air conditioner, I realize that there will be a cost to being cool and comfortable. How can I reduce other electrical needs in the house to feel less guilty running the air conditioner?

The average American home is brimming with consumer electronics and appliances (e.g. televisions, DVD players, stereos, kitchen gadgets, etc.). These products amount to approximately 15% of a home's utility usage. What you may not realize is that these modern conveniences can cost you a lot of money on your power bill even when they are still plugged in, but turned off.

Products with clock displays, remote controls, and other features draw power 24 hours per day. Another way to figure out if your appliance is drawing power is to touch the plug. If it is warm to the touch, it is drawing power. Although an individual product draws little standby power by itself, a typical American home has about 40 products continuously drawing power. This consumption is called "phantom," or "standby" energy use. This combined phantom energy use can account for about 10% of your power bill.

Since altering the energy requirements of existing appliances and electronics is not possible, using them mindfully, or replacing them with energy efficient models, will significantly reduce the amount of energy they require.

Here are a few ways to reduce the energy consumption of existing appliances:

*Use a high quality power strip as a central power supply for clusters of computer, video (TV, DVD, video games, etc.), or audio products (receivers, amplifiers, etc.), so everything can be switched off with one action when the equipment is not in use. Do not overload a circuit with too many items plugged in, as that is dangerous. Most circuits in a home are 15 AMPs, but only use 75%, which is about 11 AMPs. Look at the amount of AMPs that each item uses to calculate and prevent this circuit overload. Contact an electrician or your local utility company if you need more information about AMPs.
*Unplug chargers for cell phones and power supplies (the black cubes that convert AC power to DC) when the equipment is fully charged or not in use.
*Enable power management features on your computer, monitor, and other office equipment.
*Avoid using a screen saver on your computer's monitor; allow the monitor to switch to "Sleep" mode, "Power-down" function, or turn it off when it's not in use.

When it is time to replace an appliance, look for the ENERGY STARŪ logo. ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. Appliances and other household goods, like light bulbs, with this logo have been designed to meet strict standards for energy efficiency.

Reducing other electrical needs in the house will help me pay the power bill to run our home's air conditioner to keep cool this summer.