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My household’s energy usage dropped 19% in 2011

I got a letter from my utility company Saturday morning. Inside was a chart, comparing our household’s energy usage from 2010 and 2011. It dropped 19 percent.

Considering our total bill for 2011 was over $900, that’s hardly chump change.

That got me thinking about how we dropped our usage that much. I know two things I did in late 2010 that may have made a difference. I used to have a problem with light bulbs only lasting about two months in one of our bathrooms, so I only put the very cheapest bulbs I could possibly find in there. The problem went away after replacing the light switch, so I was able to switch to 7W CFL bulbs in there. Today I recommend LEDs though.

The lights in that bathroom were almost always on. So then I put a motion sensing switch in there, so it’s possible that change alone put a pretty serious dent in our usage.

We also replaced our 32″ CRT with a 32″ LCD TV. LCDs use less power than CRTs of comparable size, but the television also has a feature to turn itself off after a set period of time. If you go a couple of hours without changing a channel or changing the volume, it shuts itself off. And when it shuts itself off, it shuts off the HDMI-connected DVD player with it.

I’m sure I did a few other things too. As bulbs burn out, their replacements inevitably use less power than the old ones did. And when I find leaks, I caulk them up.

We spent more on the TV than we saved on electricity of course, but some of the things we did weren’t expensive. The motion sensing switch cost $20. The bulbs needed to be replaced anyway. I did splurge on a couple of LED bulbs in October 2011, but most of the bulbs I bought that year were CFL bulbs from Home Depot or Costco like I’ve been buying for the last few years. LEDs were still expensive in 2011.

More energy saving ideas

I’ve done a number of other things to help me save energy over the years. Most are pretty inexpensive. I installed thermal blinds and thermal curtains. Then I insulated my electrical outlets and added child safety plates. Perhaps my most ambitious project was insulating my overhang.

And after you tackle your electrical usage, here’s a cheap way to cut your water bill.

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