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Energy Conservation, The First Step Towards Solar

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  • Energy Conservation, The First Step Towards Solar

    Before figuring out how many solar panels you need, it's best to reduce your current electricity usage as much as possible. Doing this will make your system more cost effective. Making small and simple changes to your electricity usage can make a huge impact on your electricity bill.

    On the more expensive end of the spectrum, you can make improvements such as replacing bad insulated windows with more modern ones, insulating walls and ceilings, replacing old central heating units, etc. This is more of a long term investment, and once they you get your payback, it's just extra money in your pocket.

    The next step would be making changes with your big appliances. They are a major part of your electricity consumption and you can make big gains by switching to more efficient models. Switching to Energy Star compliant appliances is a great way to go about it.

    There are a lot of small investments and also personal habits that you can do right now that take a big part in reducing your electricity usage. What a lot of this comes down to is habit. Just like many people have habits of wasting electricity whether they realize or not, those habits can easily be reversed by starting more energy saving habits. Lets take a look at a few things for starters:

    -Turn off lights in rooms not being used. You could take it a step further by purchasing compact florescent bulbs. They are a little more expensive but the payment is very quick.

    -Get in the habit of turning off your computer monitor. Instead of leaving your computer on, make sure you have it in sleep mode, or better yet, turn it off when not in use.

    -Close your blinds if parts of the house are getting direct sunlight. It heats the house up and will make your air condition kick on more.

    -Run your dishwasher and wash your clothes at night. A lot of utility companies have rating scales where they will charge you more during peak hours. Find out from your utility company when the lowest rates apply.

    -Insulate your water heater. For about $10-$20 you can buy a installation wrap that goes around your water heater so it doesn't work as hard to heat the water.

    -Get a shower curtain rod, set it up in your utility room and start air drying clothes.

    -Use warm and cold water to wash clothes rather then hot

    -Turn your refrigerator down. Use a thermometer to set your refrigerator temperature as close to 37 degrees and your freezer as close to 3 degrees as possible. Make sure that its energy saver switch is turned on.

    -Clean or replace air filters when needed.

    -Use low-flow shower heads so you use less hot water

    -Take showers instead of baths, they use half the amount of hot water.

    Pick up a Kill-A-Watt meter. This is a good way to determine what the big electricity wasters are. You can get them for around $30 on These meters measure the power used from any device that gets plugged into the wall.

    I made this a sticky post to encourage others to chime in with energy conservation ideas, so please do so!

  • #2
    Good ideas!


    • #3
      I strongly agree. Most people are more interested in spending thousands of extra dollars on a larger system than to look for cheap/free ways to reduce their electrical consumption and therefore require a smaller PV system.


      • #4

        buying all new energy star appliances, updated windows and doing a lot of these energy saving tips would bring your bill down dramatically and still be cheaper than solar. good post.


        • #5
          So true. Before we installed the solar panels on the roof, I went around and replaced the old light bulbs with the new efficient bulbs. We also make sure we turn things off at the wall too, when they're not in use. Our 50" Plasma in the upstairs family room uses around 30 watts when it's sitting there all connected, not being used, so it gets turned off at the wall when not in use. It's a hungry sucker too, using around 350watts when it's on.

          There's lots of little things to do, that all add up. Saving power is the equivalent of adding solar panels to your roof. If you save 25% of power, that's the same as adding 25% of your home's power usage in solar panels. So save power and then add the panels, and you're even more better off.

          I took my home office off the grid too, and it's powered by my solar camping trailer. I wanted the solar trailer to power the fridge and freezer, and take those off the grid too, but that was pushing it a bit hard, given the high cut in power required for those. The 1Kw pure sine inverter in the solar trailer couldn't handle the load. Also if you get a cloudy day when you don't make all that much power, that really drains the 520ah of batteries I have there.

          I still plan to pull a few items off the grid (fridge, freezer, some lighting) and supply them from another solar setup with some batteries as storage, but that's down the track when I save some more $$.
          Last edited by Aussie Bob; 06-12-2009, 02:01 AM.


          • #6
            Oh, some other things that save us power is that we no longer use the dishwasher. That uses a lot of power for over an hour. I sat there one cycle with the watt meter, and was shocked into how much energy it was using. So the dishes get done by hand now.

            Also don't defrost your frozen meat, for the meat eaters out there. Defrosting meat in the microwave uses a LOT of energy, so take your meat out of the freezer around lunch time, and it will be naturally defrosted by dinner. That's if you don't live in a super cold climate I guess.

            I also changed from using a desktop PC to using a laptop, in my office. The laptop uses around 20% of the power of the desktop, and is soooo much quieter. And if I'm not in the office, I close the laptop lid and it hibernates, using little to no power. I also don't have the office lights on during the day or night, as those 2 fluros use around 120 watts together. I have the curtains open for natural light. There's enough light in there with the light coming in from the window.

            Another thing too is when I make a cup of tea, I only fill the electric kettle up with what I need. I had this habit of filling the kettle right to the top, and then boiling it, even if I was the only one having a tea or coffee. The kettle would use around 2400 watts for 4 minutes when full. Now it uses 2400 watts for under 1 minute, with it only filled for what I need. I blogged about that here.


            • #7
              Aussie told us a lot of method to save electricity,they are helpful.


              • #8
                I wanted to mention to be sure and check for federal and state tax credits when doing upgrades such as windows, heating and air-conditioning system, roofing, appliances, insulation, etc.

                Here is a link to the federal tax credits for residential energy improvements:


                Use to find state credits


                • #9
                  30% wind & solar rebate..

                  If you owe Federal Taxes they will give you half each year for 2 years and deduct your 30% if you don't owe Federal Taxes you can't collect the 30%.


                  • #10
                    @solarforce - SPAMMER!


                    • #11
                      Solar Energy

                      Very Informative.... Thanks

                      I think its always a good idea to save electricity. It will not only help us by reducing our electric bills but also help being green.
                      I guess wht it has to be energy only. We must save every thing we can weather its electricity, food, water, fuel etc. Its all for better. Lets pledge to save and stop wasting....


                      • #12
                        Oh, some other things that save us power is that we no longer use the dishwasher. That uses a lot of power for over an hour. I sat there one cycle with the watt meter, and was shocked into how much energy it was using. So the dishes get done by hand now.
                        Not to mention the water if it came from a well you also used and then there is the hot water it used so you have a boiler fee for that to.

                        I have insulater my house and have almost finished installing new double glazed vinal windows cauked and sealed my air conditioner is my hog I think it is abit too small as during the summer it runs all the time but my house stays at around 80 to 85 all time lowest temp has been 78 middle of day when sun is cooking my roof I am thinking of installing a roof vent fan and running it off solar to evacuate the heat stored in my rafters this should help alot, and the oven stove top is not bad but not good either, I usualy dont cook in the house during summer or winter for that as I have a well cover spot on my back deck and I smoke my dinners every day. Boiler is insulated well all pipes are too but my bill is still too high for me I am going to start nocking energy use off the grid starting with the my power hogs first then most of the smaller things bit at a time


                        • #13
                          Why energy saving is important?

                          Why energy saving is important?

                          Did you know the waste for the average family home is between 25-35% of the total energy used?

                          Whether you want to make savings on money or want to do your bit to help the environment, it just makes sense.

                          If you can save just 20% of the energy you use, you'll make a saving of hundreds of pounds a year - and significantly reduce your impact on the natural environment.

                          With the rising costs of gas, electricity, fuel and food we need to look at ways to reduce our energy bills, waste and our carbon footprint.

                          The things that we can try in addition to the Jason's ideas include simple home energy saving tips, solar power, green cleaning, recycling and growing our own vegetables...
                          I often answer posts with nonsense answers, maybe because I am trying to get my post count up to evade moderators.
                          BEWARE - Watch me


                          • #14
                            Other ideas

                            If you're stuck to a desktop computer like me, (need the processing power and drive storage) Pull your tower apart and get a good look at the power supply. Most store bought computer use one that's 70-75% efficient.
                            Go someplace and get a good 85% power supply.

                            Get rid of the dinosaur of a CRT monitor and get a good LCD. LED back light if you can. The draw far less energy.

                            Close off rooms not in use. I have an entire upstairs we use for nothing but storage. I blocked it off and closed all the heat vents going there. As long as you don't have plumbing during winter months, you'll be fine.

                            CFL / LED lights are nice. LED is preferred. Unfortunately, in cold weather CFL lights don't work good. (Northern Illinois winters are a bit nippy this time of year.) LEG lights seem to work ok.

                            Get a switchable power strip for your computer desk & entertainment center. You'd be surprised how much juice stuff draws while off. I wouldn't put my router or modem on the switch as it takes too long to re-connect and we have more than one computer using it at any given time.

                            Insulation is your friend if you have gaps. That spray in stuff works wonders for windows & doors. Blown in insulation in your attic is messy but worth the hassle.

                            Anything else I'm missing?


                            • #15
                              nice must follow them..
                              Last edited by russ; 11-29-2010, 01:53 AM. Reason: links removed