Eugene (KMTR) With temperatures dropping and energy rates rising for many Oregonians, ripping open the monthly electric bill is likely the last thing you want to do.
Electric rates are going up too. EWEB hiked its electric rates by 5% in November 2011. Come 2012, Springfield Utility Board and EPUD say they’ll likely raise rates too.
Before your bill tears into your wallet, is there any way you can save on electricity costs?
“Yeah there’s a lot,” says Lance Robertson, Public Affairs Manager for EWEB.
“Customers can do a lot of things to sort of mitigate when we have these periods of rate increase," says Robertson.
Robertson manages public outreach for EWEB, helping connect people to electricity saving resources. For low to no cost, EWEB says anyone can cut their home energy bill, in many cases by 5 to 10%.
One way to start taking charge is with a device called the “Kill-A-Watt.” The device is available for free check-out at the Eugene Library.
Demonstrating the Kill-A-Watt, Robertson says, "you just plug this into the outlet or a power strip and then you plug your power or electronic device in here (the Kill-A-Watt’s outlet.)” A digital read out shows how much power a device is using.
“Surprising things are like DVR's and cable boxes, those are the things that really draw a lot of power,” says Robertson,“ often times, they’re always on.” On average, a DVR cable box combo costs between $2.50 and $3.40 a month to operate, whether it's recording or not.
The cost is even more for the things you know you’ve turned off. Electricity is typically still flowing into those devices which are still on, but in a “standby” mode.
“Probably 20 years ago, most of these things didn't exist period, let alone being in the home. You can see over time we've really added a lot of things in our homes that draw very small amounts of power,” says Robertson.
EWEB says about 5 to 10% of a monthly home electric bill goes into electronics that are plugged in, but not in use. Those include devices like DVD players, HD TV’s, clocks and more.
Referencing the Kill-A-Watt, Robertson says, “If you could use this and say find six or eight electronic devices you could somehow reduce the power consumption of, you might be able to save five, six, seven bucks a month just by using this.”
It’s one thing to hear averages, but everyone’s situation is unique. NewsSource 16’s Chris McKee chose to use a Kill-A-Watt at his own home to see where energy was “leaking.”
The first set-up tested was a home office with a laptop, a speaker system, a cell phone, a printer and a clock. Together, all of the devices sitting, not in use, were consuming between 59 and 66 watts of power. Chris’ home office costs about $3.42 to 4.79 per month, as most of the stuff there is always plugged in and on.
For the second set-up, Chris tested his home entertainment center, equipped with a speaker system, a cable modem, a TV, a wireless router, a cable box and a Nintendo Wii. Sitting on standby, the entire set-up costs between $1.16 to $1.67 per month to operate.
“Put them on a power strip that can be turned on and off,” says Robertson.
There are other big energy users out there, including hot tubs and pond pumps. A hot tub could cost you between $6 and $38 per month to operate. “A hot tub is a high energy user. It's the cost of heating that water 24/7,” says Robertson. A pond will pump cost $11 to $51 per month.
“They're thinking how much water is this going to use …when in fact really the electricity use of a pond pump is quite significant,” says Robertson.
Cutting back your kilowatts in a major way is about two things: space heating and water heating.
EWEB says heating your home air is about 50% of your home energy bill. Heating water can account for 15 to 20% of your energy bill.“Turn your thermostat down one degree; that can save up to 3% off your bill. Turn your thermostat down two degrees, you could essentially wipe out the rate increase we just passed of 5%” says Robertson.
Water wise, EWEB says low flow shower heads will save you electricity costs as well.
It all adds up, from the heaters, to the lights, to all the little gadgets.
If you want to cut back, there’s no magic bullet, but being conscience of the electricity that you’re using may help you save some cash.
“We've always been about conservation, even our stated policy is that we should focus on conservation first because it's the cheapest form of electricity there is,” says Robertson.
For more information about energy saving tips from EWEB, click the following link: http://eweb.org/saveenergy/home.
For more information about energy saving tips from SUB, click the following link: http://www.subutil.com/conservation_services/for_your_home.