5 Things You Need To Know To Reduce Your Electricity Bill

If you are a homeowner, you have probably thought of lowering your electricity bills every time you get your bill is logical. According to a recent study, the electricity bill is the second-highest cost most homeowners pay every month. That’s not surprising because thanks to modern science, we use electricity to run appliances for everything around the home nowadays.

Especially during this time when coronavirus has damaged the world economy, people are struggling to pay their bills. Meanwhile, lockdowns mean more time at home and higher electricity use than if you were in the office most of your day. You can reduce your electricity consumption if you use it smartly. As a result, your bill will reduce too. If you are looking to cut your electric bill, this article will give you some ideas on how you can do that.

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1. Get A Smarter Thermostat

In case you didn’t know, your heating and cooling system takes up almost forty-five percent of your total electricity consumption every month. So, if you can reduce at least some of your thermostats consumption, you will see a huge difference in your total bill.

Depending on your local weather, you may need to run your heater or cooler throughout the day. Though this is almost half of your total electricity consumption, that doesn’t mean you need to give up your comfort to reduce the bill. All you need to do is to make the job a bit easier for the thermostat. Control your urge to set the temperature too high or too low. For instance, put on a few extra layers of clothes to stay warm instead of setting the temperature too high on the thermostat.

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If you don’t want to take up the work to adjust the temperature from time to time continually, look into getting a programmable thermostat. With these thermostats, you can program the temperature for each time of the day. This way, you won’t need to change it frequently, but it will run in just the required temperature all the time.

2. Use Solar Power

As mentioned before, if you want to reduce your energy bills, that doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice your comfort. A great way to reduce your energy consumption is not to use it all the time. You don’t need to use electricity all the time when you are getting unlimited solar energy every day.

Solar energy is also known as green energy. Using solar energy is an emerging trend worldwide. Solar panels are installed on the roof, and these panels then convert sun rays into solar energy. It is a pretty simple process, but it can work wonders for you. The best part is they are not overly expensive to install – but the energy savings are significant.

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You might be thinking that the sun will provide energy only during day time. How are we going to run our utilities at night? The answer is pretty simple. You can get solar battery storage. These storage cells store the excess energy that you don’t need in the daytime and let you use it at night. This way, be it day or night, you can get everything done using solar energy.

3. Use Ceiling Fans

If you live in a warm climate, most of your electricity consumption is used by your air cooler. Although new technologies are coming every day, and you can get energy-efficient air conditioners now, but they still consume a lot of energy. While you can’t get rid of your air cooler completely, you can sometimes use a ceiling fan to create an airflow that cools the room down.

A ceiling fan is a great cost-efficient option. These fans pull out hot air and circulate cold air. It may not give you the same effect as an air cooler, but it will surely make your room a bit more comfortable as it circulates cold air. But the best thing is a ceiling fan takes up a fraction of the electricity that air cooler consumes. So, even if you don’t use it all the time, you can alternate between the ceiling fan and the cooler.

There are a few hacks that can help you stay comfortable even with the ceiling fan. For instance, try keeping the windows and doors which are facing the east covered. This will minimize the heat that comes from the sun.

4. Minimize the electricity your laundry takes

Washing your laundry with hot water takes up a lot of energy. The heater has to work a lot to provide this much hot water to your washing machine. Try using cold water to wash your clothes. You would be surprised how using cold water can reduce almost half of your laundry cost.

The key here is to use appliances. So if you are using your washing machine, try using it as little as possible – save the laundry loads and do them all at once during off-peak hours. So if you are using your washing machine to dry your clothes, you need to reconsider that. Drying clothes is a chore that can easily be done without using any energy. Line drying laundry is an easy way that takes no electricity. It may take longer, but it is free.

5. Reduce Phantom Drainage

If you haven’t heard of phantom drainage before, you are in for a bit of a ‘shocker’! It is also known as standby power. You may think that it is unnecessary to remove the plug when you are not using the appliances. They are turned off after all. But the truth is, your devices consume electricity even when they are not in use.

According to a study, appliances consume almost fifty percent of the total energy when they are actually not used. So, this energy is going nowhere, and you are the one paying for it. Not only is it a loss of our valuable energy and degrading our environment, but it is also a waste of money. So always make sure to remove the plug when you are not using an appliance.

To Sum Up

Reducing your electricity bill is not something that can be done in a day. It’s a day to day practice. Following these simple tips will lower your electricity bill remarkably. But these are not the only things you can do.

There are many small things you can do to get better results. For instance, try to install energy-efficient appliances. They take up a lot less energy than regular ones. You should also be mindful of wasting energy by keeping lights or coolers on when they are not required. Last, but not the least, use a budget calculator to keep a tab on where your money is going.

Top 5 Reasons Why Your Power Bill is Skyrocketing

Working from home does have its perks, but one huge downside is dealing with energy bills that are higher than usual. However, the fact that you’re spending most of your time at home shouldn’t be a reason to simply accept skyrocketing energy bills. There might be a couple of ways you can still bring those monthly charges down despite your high consumption while working from home.

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Here are the top reasons why power bills spike and what you can do to mitigate the situation.

1. Failure to upgrade appliances

Most new appliances have been equipped with energy-efficient and power-saving features. Old appliances were not required to have these features, which is why ‘vampire charges’ were such a big deal in the past. Once you upgrade to newer appliances, you’ll find that you won’t even have to religiously unplug your devices since they stop consuming substantial electricity once they’re turned off.

Furthermore, old, rickety appliances lose efficiency as they degrade, so they might be consuming more power to do simple, everyday tasks. You might think you’re saving money by sticking to appliances that are decades-old, but you will undoubtedly feel an improvement in your power bills once you make the shift.

2. Overusing ‘big’ appliances

Even with new appliances, frequent usage is still a major problem. This is especially true for power-hogging devices such as your washing machine or dishwasher. The best strategy is to wait until you have enough laundry or dirty dishes to run your machines at full-load or capacity.

This will lessen the frequency with which you run these major power-hugging appliances, therefore reducing your overall power consumption in the long run. If there is an urgent need to free up some clean dishes or clothes, handwashing them is a better alternative than running the washer just for a few items.

3. Late detection of leaky ducts

Poorly sealed or weakly insulated ducts can add thousands of dollars to your yearly power bills. This is because they release hot air into unheated spaces in your home. Make sure you are not spending more than necessary for your home’s heating or cooling systems by maintaining vents and ducts.

Aside from sealing or insulating ducts, you also have to ensure that your airflow is not restricted by furniture and other large objects. Keeping registers clean can also help optimize ducts, therefore helping with the power bills.

4. Higher rates

If you live in an area where electricity markets have been deregulated, like in Connecticut, then know that you have a choice regarding your third party power supplier. Now, unless you’re closely watching spot market news, you might not have noticed that your energy provider has been secretly hiking rates.

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To take better control of your power bills, compare the rates charged by power suppliers in your area, then change electricity providers so that you will get the most value for your money.

5. Not exploring cheaper power sources

If you’re already subscribed to the cheapest energy provider in your area but are still struggling with power bills, then you might want to check alternative power sources like installing solar panels or keeping solar batteries at home.

Now, unless you have an industrial-level solar energy system, it’s highly unlikely that you can cover all your power needs using PV panels, but this would at least reduce your dependence on provider-supplied electricity, thus substantially reducing your power bills.

Wrapping Up

Of course, there are several other tips and tricks that could chip away at your huge power bills like replacing your lights with LED bulbs and setting a timer on your A/C, but if you really want a substantial reduction in what you’re paying for energy, you have to make big changes around the house, such as the ones mentioned and discussed in this article.

As more and more companies mull letting employees work from home permanently, you must be able to do so without forever stressing about those monthly power charges.

5 Money-Saving Upgrades To Make Your Home Energy-Efficient

Did you know the average American household spends about $2,000 annually for utilities? What’s more, $200 to $400 is money wasted due to drafts, air leakage, and outdated HVAC systems. That’s a lot of money, right? You can save that money by making energy efficient upgrades to your home.

Let’s take a look at these money-saving upgrades, shall we?

1. Insulation

A very cost effective way to save on energy is by adding more insulation in the attic, or switching out the typical blanket insulation for either cellulose loose-fill insulation or spray foam insulation. The spray foam insulation is the most effective type of insulation for energy efficiency.

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With that in mind, installing spray foam insulation requires professional installation and it can range anywhere from $1 to $1.50 per square foot.

2. Energy efficient appliances and HVAC system

Older appliances tend to use a of energy and are nowhere near as energy efficient as newer models. Look for appliances and electronics that are ENERGY STAR approved products. By replacing the refrigerator, washer and dryer and even the ranges, you can save 15% on how much energy your home uses.

The same with heating and cooling. When you upgrade your HVAC system, you can save up to 20% to 50% on your energy bills – providing you make some of the other upgrades on this list.

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3. Programmable thermostat

It seems like everything is a smart device doesn’t it? Smart thermostats are an excellent way to reduce the amount of heating and cooling is used, especially when you’re not home. In the winter, you can decrease the temperature when you’re not at home and increase it to a comfortable temperature about 30 minutes before you get home, and vice versa.

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If you don’t want to go the smart thermostat route, there are programmable thermostats where you can change the settings so the temperature is where it’s set to at the desired time.

4. Eliminating air leaks

One of the biggest culprits of wasted energy is air leakages. A whopping 40% of a home’s heating or cooling is lost due to drafty doors and windows and ill-fitted air ducts. You can prevent this by upgrading your doors and windows to high energy options. Not only are the new doors and windows themselves energy efficient, but the new seals will prevent air leakage.

If you cannot afford new windows or doors, you can always use exterior-grade caulking and new weatherstripping to seal up cracks or gaps you may find.

5. Install ceiling fans

Ceiling fans are a great way to add a bit of style to a room, but they can also help circulate the air, regardless of the season. Most fans have a switch that allows you to change the direction the fan moves. In the summer, it should rotate counterclockwise to push the cooler air down, therefore making the air feel cooler than it actually is. In the winter, it should rotate clockwise to pull the cool air upward and push the warm air downward.

Keeping your home’s energy costs as low as possible isn’t just smart as a homeowner, it’s also a good way to increase the value of your home. And, according to HomeLight’s Q2 2020 survey, we are in a seller’s market! 60% of agents who participated in the survey said there were 60% more bidding wars in June 2020 and the market doesn’t seem to be slowing.

That means if you’re looking to sell, these energy efficient upgrades are a great way to pique a buyer’s interest – maybe even more than one!

Palm Kernel Shells: An Attractive Biomass Fuel for Europe

Europe is targeting an ambitious renewable energy program aimed at 20% renewable energy in the energy mix by 2020 with biomass energy being key renewable energy resource across the continent. However, the lack of locally-available biomass resources has hampered the progress of biomass energy industry in Europe as compared with solar and wind energy industries. The European biomass industry is largely dependent on wood pellets and crop residues.

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Europe is the largest producer of wood pellets, which is currently estimated at 13.5 million tons per year while its consumption is 18.8 million tons per year. The biggest wood pellet producing countries in Europe are Germany and Sweden. Europe relies on America and Canada to meet its wood pellet requirements and there is an urgent need to explore alternative biomass resources. In recent years, palm kernel shells (popularly known as PKS) from Southeast Asia and Africa has emerged as an attractive biomass resources which can replace wood pellets in biomass power plants across Europe.

What are Palm Kernel Shells

Palm kernel shells are the shell fractions left after the nut has been removed after crushing in the Palm Oil Mill. Kernel shells are a fibrous material and can be easily handled in bulk directly from the product line to the end use. Large and small shell fractions are mixed with dust-like fractions and small fibres.

Moisture content in kernel shells is low compared to other biomass residues with different sources suggesting values between 11% and 13%. Palm kernel shells contain residues of Palm Oil, which accounts for its slightly higher heating value than average lignocellulosic biomass. Compared to other residues from the industry, it is a good quality biomass fuel with uniform size distribution, easy handling, easy crushing, and limited biological activity due to low moisture content.

Press fibre and shell generated by the palm oil mills are traditionally used as solid fuels for steam boilers. The steam generated is used to run turbines for electricity production. These two solid fuels alone are able to generate more than enough energy to meet the energy demands of a palm oil mill.

Advantages of Palm Kernel Shells

PKS has almost the same combustion characteristics as wood pellets, abundantly available are and are cheap. Indonesia and Malaysia are the two main producers of PKS. Indonesian oil palm plantations cover 12 million hectares in Indonesia and 5 million hectares in Malaysia, the number of PKS produced from both countries has exceeded 15 million tons per year. Infact, the quantity of PKS generated in both countries exceeds the production of wood pellets from the United States and Canada, or the two largest producers of wood pellets today.

Interestingly, United States and Canada cannot produce PKS, because they do not have oil palm plantations, but Indonesia and Malaysia can also produce wood pellets because they have large forests. The production of wood pellets in Indonesia and Malaysia is still small today, which is less than 1 million tons per year, but the production of PKS is much higher which can power biomass power plants across Europe and protect forests which are being cut down to produce wood pellets in North America and other parts of the world.

PKS as a Boiler Fuel

Although most power plants currently use pulverized coal boiler technology which reaches around 50% of the world’s electricity generation, the use of grate combustion boiler technology and fluidized bed boilers is also increasing. Pulverized coal boiler is mainly used for very large capacity plants (> 100 MW), while for ordinary medium capacity uses fluidized bed technology (between 20-100 MW) and for smaller capacity with combustor grate (<20 MW). The advantage of boiler combustion and fluidized bed technology is fuel flexibility including tolerance to particle size.

When the pulverized coal boiler requires a small particle size (1-2 cm) like sawdust so that it can be atomized on the pulverizer nozzle, the combustor grate and fluidized bed the particle size of gravel (max. 8 cm) can be accepted. Based on these conditions, palm kernel shells has a great opportunity to be used as a boiler fuel in large-scale power plants.

Use of PKS in pulverized coal boiler

There are several things that need to be considered for the use of PKS in pulverized coal boilers. The first thing that can be done is to reduce PKS particle size to a maximum of 2 cm so that it can be atomized in a pulverized system. The second thing to note is the percentage of PKS in coal, or the term cofiring. Unlike a grate and a fluidized bed combustion that can be flexible with various types of fuel, pulverized coal boilers use coal only. There are specific things that distinguish biomass and coal fuels, namely ash content and ash chemistry, both of which greatly influence the combustion characteristics in the pulverized system.

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PKS has emerged as an attractive biomass commodity in Japan

Coal ash content is generally greater than biomass, and coal ash chemistry is very different from biomass ash chemistry. Biomass ash has lower inorganic content than coal, but the alkali content in biomass can change the properties of coal ash, especially aluminosilicate ash.

Biomass cofiring with coal in small portions for example 3-5% does not require modification of the pulverized coal power plant. For example, Shinci in Japan with a capacity of 2 x 1,000 MW of supercritical pulverized fuel with 3% cofiring requires 16,000 tons per year of biomass and no modification. Similarly, Korea Southeast Power (KOSEP) 5,000 MW with 5% cofiring requires 600,000 tons per year of biomass without modification.

PKS cofiring in coal-based power plants

Pulverized coal-based power plants are the predominant method of large-scale electricity production worldwide including Europe. If pulverised fuel power plants make a switch to co-firing of biomass fuels, it will make a huge impact on reducing coal usage, reducing carbon emissions and making a transition to renewable energy. Additionally, the cheapest and most effective way for big coal-based power plants to enter renewable energy sector is biomass cofiring. Palm kernel shells can be pyrolyzed to produce charcoal while coal will produce coke if it is pyrolyzed. Charcoal can be used for fuel, briquette production and activated charcoal.