An electric meter measures electrical power consumption in kilowatt hours (kWh) and the utility companies charge their customers based on this measurement. A kilowatt hour is 1000 watts of electricity used for one hour. Since the speed at which the meter operates is relative to the amount of power used, reducing power usage by implementing and adhering to a home energy conservation plan would be a practical approach to make the meter run slower. Homeowners can take action to reduce the speed of their electric meters without significant lifestyle changes by using energy saving practices and installing efficient appliances and devices. The time involved for completion varies according to the project.
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Replace your incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL). CFL's use one-fourth the energy of ordinary light bulbs, have a longer rated life and are available in a variety of wattages to suit every lighting requirement in the home. CFL's used throughout the home cut kilowatt hours and are a major factor in slowing the electric meter down.
Turn off the power to the home entertainment centre when it is not being used. Televisions, VCRs, DVD players, surround sound equipment and other electronic appliances use power even when they are turned off. Surge protective, multi-receptacle power strips provide an on-off switch that effectively cuts the electrical supply to the equipment plugged into it while guarding against spikes or temporary current fluctuations in the household circuitry making this a small, yet significant way to save energy costs.
Replace an old electric stove. The most energy-efficient stoves have induction elements which transfer electromagnetic energy directly to the pan, leaving the cooktop itself relatively cool. They use less than half the electricity that standard coil elements use and this helps to dramatically lower the household kWh usage.
Turn off central air conditioning units 30 minutes before leaving home. The house will maintain a cool temperature for that amount of time even during the warmest of days. When shopping for an air conditioner, purchase efficient air units with thermostatic controls and programmable timers. The house will be cool and the kWh usage will be reduced.
Heat only the areas of the home which are used. Heating the whole house consumes more kilowatt hours of electricity than heating just part of it. Adjust the home living environment to be more comfortable at lower temperatures and use ceiling fans at low speeds to draw warm air down from the ceiling. This keeps the house cosy and saves energy usage.
Use an efficient newer model refrigerator to store foods and reduce kWh usage. Older refrigerators can use as much as 1400 kWh a year, while modern energy-efficient models use only 350 kWh which is a 75 per cent reduction in usage. The rates charged in various areas may differ slightly, but overall a substantial annual savings will also be realised.
Tips and warnings
- There are power monitors on the market that allow the homeowner to keep track of the actual wattage used in the household, however, there are many power companies that do not permit the installation of these units. Check with your local power company before installing a power monitor.
- If the wattage draw of a particular appliance in the home is not known, low-cost wattage meters can be found at local hardware stores and home centres.
- Never attempt to remove or tamper with an electrical meter in an effort to make it run slower. It is an illegal practice and can bring serious consequences.
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