Saturday, January 30, 2010

Turn off the lights!!

My husband and I joke a lot about this all the time:

He's a "light-turner-onner"

I'm a "light-turner-offer."

It never fails.  Any room of the house that he's in, has been in, was in a few hours ago, was kind-of in a few minutes a go--you name it---the light is bound to be on!!

Now, don't get me wrong, I love my husband dearly.   I'm definitely not trying to call my husband out, because, you know, me harping on him to turn the lights off, is probably more annoying than him leaving them on in the first place!!!!!  I'm just a big stickler for turning lights off in a room after you leave it!  It was ingrained in me from my childhood!

So, that led me to research it a bit, and I found this next bit of information from The Simple Dollar that I thought would be great to share:

If you spend one minute turning off lights before a two hour trip, that’s the equivalent of earning $50/hour. That’s some impressive savings, particularly if you do it before longer trips. The key is to use less energy, particularly when you’re not using the device.

Let's look into this a little closer:

First of all, it takes two minutes to walk through the house and ensure all the lights are shut off.

Second, electricity costs $0.10 per kilowatt hour. This is roughly what the nationwide average is, and roughly what we use.

Third, the average bulb eats about 30 watts. This is a rough estimate.

Fourth, doing that walk-through causes me to turn off four light bulbs. This is just on average, sometimes more, sometimes less.

Taking those assumptions, let’s say we’re going to leave on a two hour trip. I turn off four 20 watt bulbs that would have run for two hours, so that’s a total of 160 watt hours of energy, or 0.32 kilowatt hours. The effort in that walkthrough, which takes two minutes, is 1.6 cents.

Let’s do the same for an average work day, where the house will be empty for nine hours. Turning off four 20 watt bulbs that would have run for nine hours saves 720 watt hours of energy. That two minute walkthrough here saves 7.2 cents. This is getting better, but still not very cost effective.

Now, let’s look at a weekend trip, where, we’re typically gone for about 52 hours. Thus, if we turn off those same four 20 watt bulbs, we save 4,160 watt hours of energy. That’s 41.6 cents, which is getting to be worthwhile for two minutes of effort.

This is assuming only lights, of course. What about the potential for other electronic devices to be turned on? If you find a television on, which sucks down roughly 150 watts on average. Over two hours, that’s only 3 cents. Over that 52 hour trip, that’s 7.8 kilowatt hours, or $0.78.

Here’s what I concluded from running the numbers.

First, a walkthrough gets more and more cost effective the longer your trip is going to be. For very short trips, it’s probably not worth the time investment – with just the lightbulbs and a two minute walkthrough before a two hour trip, your hourly wage for that effort is 48 cents. However, if you do a two minute walkthrough for a two day trip and find the four lights and the television on, your hourly wage for that effort is $35.88.

Second, the more devices you turn off, the more worthwhile the walkthrough is. On longer trips, I do things like unplugging devices, powering off everything on my entertainment center, unplugging my laptop’s power supply, and so on. This cuts down on a lot of drain and can be done pretty quickly, not adding much at all to the time of the walkthrough.

It’s simple things like these that really make the difference. Taking just a few minutes to look at your behavior and realize when a frugal tactic is cost-effective or not can tell you a lot about whether that behavior is really right for you. For me, I often try to look at it as an hourly wage – if that hourly wage looks nice to me (or there’s some other appeal to it), I’ll do it!!

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