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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

How to save on energy costs

How to save money on energy costs
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Saving on energy costs often means being resourceful, and knowing how to complete a home energy audit. Alternative sources of energy, cost effective restorations, conservational energy adjustments and energy efficient equipment can all be used to significantly lower energy costs over time if not in the short run.

Performing a careful review of one's living, commuting and working environment can open up the possibilities of what can be done to reduce energy costs. Often, the answers may be staring one right in the face just waiting to be recognized and acknowledged. The tips in this article provide an energy cost cutting guideline and a few methods by which to go about saving energy and meeting energy cost saving goals.

Energy cost savings tips

1. Lowering cooling and air conditioning expenses

Office equipment, personal comfort and productivity are all affected by temperature. For this reason it is sometimes impractical to do away with expenses such as cooling. Without cooling office equipment can overheat and fail potentially costing replacement or repair fees, and working and living can be excessively uncomfortable to the point of lowered productivity. For this reason, cooling cost management is a more viable alternative.

2. Equipment conversion cost benefit analysis

Old equipment and machines with excessive capacity can be inefficient and costly to run. Vehicles older than 10 years old, microwaves with too much power, overly large mowers for small yards, high wattage blenders, toasters and kitchen appliances etc. can all slowly eat away at a budget unnecessarily. Buying new equipment however is more likely to be cost effective if the energy savings can pay the cost of the new equipment within a reasonable amount of time. 1-5 years is a good benchmark to use when assessing the costs and benefits of new equipment.

3. Lowering energy consumption

In a residential property or business, several sources of energy consumption may be redundant and therefore may prevent saving on energy costs.. Redundant use of energy negatively impacts operating expenses and should be considered item by item for potential energy savings. For example, sometimes overhead fluorescent lighting may be in excess of what is actually needed to create adequate light output for a working environment. If reducing overheard lighting by 10-20% does not adversely affect worker productivity, and working environment it may be a good idea to do so. Other techniques depend on the type of business, and are usually linked to equipment efficiency, run time of machinery, in addition to heating and cooling expenditures.

To illustrate, if a new toaster oven costs $40.00 and the design of the toaster makes it possible to save .02 cents of electricity every time it is used and it is used on average 14 times per week that amounts to .28 cents per week or $14.56 cents per year, over 5 years the savings add up to $72.80 or $32.80 more than the cost of the new toaster oven making it worth while if it is used at the same rate for more than 3 years. The same principal of cost benefit analysis can apply to any piece of equipment or machinery and involves calculating usage, energy requirements and potential energy cost savings.

4. Reducing gas consumption expenditures

Gas costs are an ongoing concern given high demands on oil resources and fairly constant rates of supply. This has spurred growing interest in renewable and alternative forms of energy in addition to cost cutting measures through efficiency legislation and techniques. Even the seemingly most small adjustments to energy use can have a dramatic effect on cost especially on a large scale.

A few examples of gas reduction include changing individual and employee driving schedules to include more tasks or errands per trip; insulating with inexpensive and/or cost effective products, employing the use of automatic energy consumption schedules to minimize use of gas at times when it is not as necessary, and converting to electricity where feasible and worthwhile. Since the costs of both electricity and gas fluctuate, keeping an eye on changing rates can indicate which weeks and months are better for using more electricity instead of gas. Furthermore, for electric heating to be cost effective it is ideally operated in a manner similar to gas heating i.e. on a thermostat triggered or pre-calculated schedule.

5. Additional energy cost saving tips

Some additional techniques of lowering cooling costs include shade landscaping for buildings, proper and inexpensive insulation for air conditioning units, energy efficient air conditioning (provided they pass cost benefit analysis illustrated above), use of window shades and reduction of high heat output lights and machinery during the hottest hours of the day. Other more aggressive methods could involve use of a night time schedule during the hottest months of the year, reduction of home or office square footage, application of improved air circulation via fan units and raising of temperature control settings within acceptable comfort levels.

Energy costs, whether they be personal or business related, account for a larger portion of financial budgets because of increases in the cost of energy. This article will demonstrate some of the techniques that can be used to accomplish the goal of saving on energy costs. The techniques in this article may help lower the cost of energy and include a review of how electrical equipment, energy use patterns and adjustments to heating and cooling methods may save energy costs. Furthermore, trimming these costs can lead to lower overhead expenses and more liquid cash in a budget be it business or personal.

Image license: Passivhaus Institut, GFDL, CC BY-SA 3.0