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Looking At Everyday Household Energy Usage

I am such a creature of habit that I often do not think of the things I do that use expensive energy and climate changing fuels.

When I do put mind to trying to reduce my energy footprint, the steps I take often save less than I think. For instance, I seldom blow dry my hair because, it's obvious, it uses electricity to heat up the thing, and more to blow it around. So I keep simple air dryable cuts.

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Then we measure how much electricity the darn thing uses.* For my shortish fine hair, a quick warming blow uses about 1/3 of a kilowatt hour and costs about $0.03. I still don't use the hairdryer much, but when I do use it on a cold winter morning, I do not feel too guilty.

It is refreshing to know the waffle iron makes a big breakfast for 0.31 kWh, about three cents worth of electricity (and 3.5 waffles are in the freezer!) The electric tea pot is a bargain, if I remember to turn it off after the tea is poured.

The fridge and freezer run 24/7. So checking how much they use and replacing ones that are energy efficient makes a real difference. Our fridge is Energy Star and comes in at about 430 kWh per year. The chest freezer, most efficient model generally (cold air sinks) uses about 226 kWh per year and holds those waffles for a quick breakfast one day. But what I want to remember is that the leftovers and ice cream are here because I choose to use the electricity. Nice choice to be able to make!

I love hot water! When I think about it, hot water is the best thing of my lifestyle, really! The stupid hot water heater sits there polluting the world all day, even if we only use hot water in the morning and in the evening. How dumb is that? Grinding away burning money and ruining the planet for my convenience seem a little silly and very selfish. Thank goodness we can use thermal solar hot water heaters in many places and ours is one of those. And we can install on demand water heaters for the intermittent extra boost in temperature we like.

It is good for be to remember that what is hot in winter and cool in summer is using extra energy. Then I get to decide if it is worth it, to me and my planet.

Drying dishes is a good time for me to go over the day's events with family, or in my mind. Hanging out clothes, and running to bring them in if it ever rains again in Colorado's east side, gets me in touch with the world around me. Having an indoor line in a dry region actually adds some needed moisture to the indoor air.

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I have heard that when one writes about a problem it is de rigueur to finish with a plan. So here is my plan: think. Followed by measuring energy use and acting consciously. Remember the big cost of using energy thoughtlessly. I decide to put on a sweater or two, or to go sleeveless, buff arms or not! I chose to turn off the lights or the drying cycle on the dishwasher.

This may not save the world, or even balance my budget, but I hope it will help. I want to live my life engaged and aware of what is around me. That is my best plan for saving energy, dollars, and the climate.

By Wyncia

*There is a great little device called Kill-a-Watt Energy Usage Monitor available at Amazon.com for about $20 . Just plug it in and then plug the appliance into it. It tells you all sorts of good information.

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April 22, 20090 found this helpful

Another thing to think about is how many items are plugged in that are soaking up energy even when not in use. You know all those electrical gadgets with clocks or "on" lights? The computers that aren't in use overnight? Your cable or satellite box that runs when your TV is turned off? Chargers that aren't currently charging anything? Unplug them when you're not actively using them. This will lessen the "phantom load" on your energy usage and of course, your utility bill.

Also consider making the switch to compact fluorescent (CFL) or LED bulbs. I recently bought a new ceiling fan - also an energy saver when used properly - and since it only uses candelabra bulbs decided to go with LED bulbs. I had to special order them but when I picked them up was delighted to note that each bulb only costs 16 cents per year to operate!

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April 24, 20090 found this helpful

Good reminders, LAH. Some folks do not like the look of the light coming off CFL's. They might prefer the "full spectrum" CFL bulbs! Wyncia

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May 11, 20090 found this helpful

My husband got a large timer for the electric water heater to plug into---it has made a good bit of difference. The good thing is that the heater keeps the hot wate warm enough, so if I need hot water during the 'off' times, it is there.

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