The Basics

How to Save Electricity – Back to Basics

If you want to know how to save electricity and thus reduce or manage your electricity bill systematically on an on-going basis, the key thing to understand is how electricity is actually consumed in your home or at work.

Understanding How You Consume Electricity

An electric device consumes energy when it runs.  How much electrical energy it consumes is dependent on the power rating of the device as well as how long it runs for.  By understanding this simple relationship, one can build up an aggregated picture of how your daily behaviour results in the total bill payable at the end of the month.  This understanding then becomes the foundation of any attempts to manage your electricity consumption.  This is ultimately the best approach on how to save electricity systematically in the long term.

The majority of people do not really sufficiently understand how combined use of their electrical appliances relates to the monthly bill.   This could be because its something they may not really think about, or perhaps because many people contribute to the combined electricity consumption and thus it becomes difficult to know what they are all doing, or perhaps because they do not have a very good idea of how much power their various devices consume at a time.  However, the good news is that with a relatively small amount of effort, this understanding can be gained by approaching the problem systematically.

Its Easier Than Installing Meters

The gratifying thing is that it usually takes less effort than you think.  Its usually much cheaper and quicker just to apply your mind for an hour or two to gather the information, than other common approaches to the problem such as installing additional meters at key points in the network and waiting for them to gather the necessary data and then analysing that data.  In addition, a meter will only tell you precisely how much energy was consumed at a particular point in the network,  but it cannot explain why.

This is very similar to trying to systematically reduce your monthly costs by simply looking at your bank balance once a month.  Without understanding all the the various debit orders and other expenses on your bank account, you don’t really have enough information to tackle the problem.  So it becomes very difficult to know where to start.  But as soon as you understand the details, it quickly becomes plain what the problem areas are, and where to focus your attention.

How to Do It

You can go about this exercise in various ways.  One relatively easy way is to use the new  PowerProphet electricity consumption modelling tool.  Its specifically designed to do this relatively painlessly.  The results of a typical study on a middle class family home are shown below:

piechart

kwhchart

ppdetailUnderstanding Consumption Allows You to Predict

As you can see above, you now can predict how much it costs to run individual devices, as well as aggregated totals per room, accumulated right up to a total for the whole property for any period.  The pie chart above shows for that particular home, at that particular time, heating water, running the pool pump, using the electric heater as well as the kitchen appliances were the main contributors to the monthly bill.  So any changes to those activities would yield the fastest and largest results in this case.  But not all homes are the same, and people are different with different preferences and routines, so one cannot just assume the same goes for your home or workplace.

Using a tool like this, one can also predict what savings one would achieve by operating the devices in different ways, or by using more efficient devices.

Prediction Enables Systematic Management

The point is that for a small amount of effort, you gain a very good  understanding of WHY the bill is as high as it is, what the main culprits are, as well as what sort of savings to expect from any changes you might have in mind.  You are thus very well armed to tackle the problem.

Without understanding the issue at this detailed level, any changes you might make run the risk of being “hit-and-miss” type initiatives.  Which is why we feel gaining this understanding is the basic first step in any sustained drive to manage your electricity bill on an on-going basis!

2 Comments

  1. jeremy June 8, 2015 Reply
    • authorAuthor June 10, 2015 Reply

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