As we approach the end of Save Money, Energy and Water Week, you may at this point be wandering around your house glaring at your appliances accusingly, wondering just how much juice each one is guzzling anyway. There are a couple of ways to find out: A free method is an on-line tool that tells you how many watts common household appliances use and approximately how much they cost to run. For example, you may surprised to learn that your iron is costing you $28 a year–I know I was, since I don’t own an iron.
For total accuracy, you’ll need to buy a Power Cost Monitor which tells you exactly how much electricity any appliance in your home consumes. But before you start clicking your way toward buying one of these devices, ask yourself whether you’ll actually use it to help yourself become an energy miser. Bear in mind that there’s a lot of embedded energy and rare metals in portable electronic devices so, unless you really think it will help you conserve electricity, stick with the free on-line tool or consider going in on a Power Monitor with a few neighbors. On the other hand, if you have a gadget-crazed family member who would make the most of a Power Monitor, go for it–it would make the perfect Father’s Day gift for the right kind of Baby Boomer dad.
One final tip–if you don’t like CFL bulbs and have been squirreling away incandescents in anticipation of the national phaseout in 2012, take a look at LED lighting. It’s more expensive but has important advantages over CFLs, including zero mercury, a warm quality to the light, and incredible longevity. A 9-watt (40-watt incandescent equivalent) LED bulb at Home Depot goes for $40, but it will last for 20 years and use 15% less energy than a CFL, so you’ll break even in the end.
We wind down the Home Energy Smackdown today on Bike to Work Day. We hope that, over the course of the week, you’ve experimented with some lifestyle habits that require less gas, electricity and water. Drop us a line and let us know how it’s going.