Saving electricity is important in at least two ways. First, it contributes to saving money that otherwise we would have paid for electricity. Having savings frees up part of our personal resources so that we can fulfill our other needs or pursue other priorities. Second, saving electricity can contribute to our community, helping reduce the demand for energy and a reliance on power plants, the emissions of which can damage our atmosphere and our environment.
To save on our use of electricity, here are some steps:
1. Be mindful of the power ratings of electric appliances, and the duration of our households’ use of those appliances.
Perhaps one of the most important steps in saving electricity is understanding how much energy our electric appliances need for them to work. Whether at home, in the office, or in an establishment, our use of electric appliances makes up our energy consumption. The amount of electricity that one appliance needs to typically work is determined by the power rating of that appliance. When we relate a device’s power rating to how long that device has been in use, we get a picture of part of our energy consumption.
A key step toward saving electricity is therefore being mindful of the amount of electricity that our devices need to work, and how long we use those devices. We can use the information to guide decisions. We can try to pick appliances that are more energy-efficient than others. Checking the power rating of a device may also help us consider how long we use it. A typical hair dryer on a high setting, for example, can use a lot more energy within a short amount of time versus a typical electric fan in the same amount of time.
2. Be judicious in using and depending on energy vampire appliances.
In our homes or offices, there are energy or power vampire appliances. These electric appliances tend to consume energy as they either run around the clock or are put on standby. At home, an example is the water dispenser. As the water dispenser tries to keep certain temperatures for cold and hot water to be available, it continues to consume much energy. In the office or industrial setting, examples may be vending machines or laboratory freezers.
From my personal experience, reducing our household’s dependence on a water dispenser helps us save electricity. Our household has chosen as an alternative on one hand, the use of a vacuum flask to keep our heated water (prepared using a gas stove); and on another hand, the use of pitchers inside a refrigerator to keep cold water. We also try to be mindful of how often we open and close the refrigerator as this also affects how much energy our refrigerator consumes.
3. Consider the factors that contribute to how much energy appliances use.
It might be the case that we assume we know our consumption patterns. But our consumption patterns can vary throughout the year. The changes may be due to several things.
For example, when we purchase an air conditioning unit for our home or office, we may decide to choose a unit with inverter technology. An inverter helps save energy by enabling the air conditioning unit to adjust its motor speed without needing the motor to be switched on or off. But if we end up choosing an air conditioning unit of the wrong size considering the area of the room that the unit must cool, the unit may need more energy to both reach and keep the desired temperature for the room.
The energy consumption of an air conditioning unit also depends on the temperature of the immediate surroundings at the time of use, the set room temperature that the unit must reach and maintain, and the number of people and heat-producing devices within the area being cooled, among others. On a typical summer, these factors combine to how much energy we use to cool our rooms.
Going back to the example of using a refrigerator, the amount of food and drinks that the refrigerator keeps, as well as the warm air that enters the refrigerator when its door is opened are among the factors that affect how much energy the refrigerator consumes. Observing proper maintenance of our refrigerator can also help ensure its efficiency, so checking the door seals, having enough ventilation, and defrosting can contribute to keeping our refrigerator in good working condition.
The number of people using electric devices within a room or establishment is also an important key to understanding how energy consumption eventually accumulates. During school breaks, for example, our children being at home entails energy use, too.
Our awareness of how electric appliances can use energy and stay energy efficient can go a long way in guiding our decisions—both big and small—that determine our energy consumption at home, in the office, or in our business.