Old electricity meter

How to hack your electricity bill by over 50% (India)

Marginal gains add up and this is the story of how we hacked our electricity bill by over 50%. The first thing you need to do is measure. We were averaging a bill of 1100 INR a month regardless of the season. In the summers this used to spike even more. We’ve gotten it down to under 500 INR the last few months. So here are the things we did that helped us put our electricity consumption on a massive diet.

1.Replace all lighting with LED

If you read any of the saving electricity guides, this is going to be one of the top tips. Funnily this did not have too great an impact on our bill. Despite shifting to LEDs we didn’t see more than a 10% reduction in our bill. This had me scratching my head for a while. Clearly, lighting was not too high a contributor for us? Or maybe its that most of our lighting back then was already on CFL. So we were lagging just one generation in technology. This was the first thing we took up and the price difference was significant. I don’t think we’ve recouped the amount we invested on this one.

TIP: Go for warm (yellowish) tinged lights for mood lighting in the house. Makes the house look a lot prettier.

2. Install a low flow shower head

You must be wondering what a low flow shower head has to do with saving electricity. Well, I’ll tell you. You see I love a hot shower. So when we moved in the house had an ancient shower head that’s probably been there since the 80s. It didn’t provide very great pressure and since it had a lot of flow, used to run out of hot water in under 2-3minutes. We have a Racold Pronto 3L water heater in the house. Which by itself is decently efficient. But with the heating element on high, that baby has quite the current draw. So, with the older showerhead, after a couple of minutes, it would be trying to heat the water at high. But the discharge rate was so high that it couldn’t keep up. Result the geyser was almost always on high (crispy wiring later) and the water almost always lukewarm. Once we got the Hindware shower head things changed. It seems like it uses a lot less water (i used the time it takes to fill a bucket to test). The Pressure was great. The hot water lasted much longer and the geyser never ran as hot. So even if we spend the same time in the shower we use less water and save a crapload on electricity.  The shower head cost INR 599 on discount and im handy with tools so the install was 10 mins and some Teflon tape. But this made a decent dent in our electricity bill. Plus it’s great for the environment.

3. Fix the Washing machine

When we got married our family passed down a washing machine to us. While I thought I did a good of tidying it up initially. It broke down on us a couple of times. Here’s where my great propensity to procrastinate comes into play. More often than not I see something that isn’t efficient. But getting out of my comfort zone and tackling those problems takes me some time. Coming back to the machine. For some reason, the clothes weren’t drying properly. So we had to put them through 2 spin cycles. Eventually when I got round to fixing the machine. It was a missing bushing which made the belt run loose. Effectively we were not using the full force of motor on the belt. This too had a significant impact on the electricity bill. With only a time investment from my part of maybe a couple of hours. For a long-term gain.

4. Use passive cooling

Air conditioning is a marvel and a blessing in our climate. But its terrible for your electricity consumption. A large chunk (upto 50%) of our summer electricity bill used to be Air conditioning. But over the last year, we’ve become more conscious and judicious of how we use it. In the cooler evening, we first try to cool the house by pushing out the hot air from one window and letting in cool air from another one. Second, we clean our ac filter regularly. Third, we run the ac at a comfortable for us 24 degrees Celsius and run the ceiling fan as well. And lastly, we limit the number of hours we use the ac 4 to 5. Combined it really helps attack electricity consumption while not having a significant impact on our comfort/sleep.

5. Upgrade ceiling fan atleast in the bedroom

The Bedroom is where you spend an inordinately large chunk of the day. 8 to 10 hours of your day will be spent in the bedroom. Considering the heat in Goa that translates to 8 to 10 hours of using the fan. Our bedroom originally had an old resistive type regulator. It basically limits the current by passing it through resistive heating elements. Heating the room and wasting additional electricity. So we upgraded to the Atomberg BLDC fan. It does not need a regulator and at top speed consumes some 28 Watts of electricity. So This really had an impact on our electricity consumption. And brought it down drastically. I think this single change would account for at least 25% savings on our bill. It will still take us maybe a quarter of the year to recoup the investment on the fan, but after that, whatever period it runs for its saving us money. In fact. It has had such an impact on me that the rest of the fans in the house are scheduled to be replaced soon as well.

Closing Thoughts.

I Know a lot of people will say that it’s not practical to do this in a rented house. Well I think it’s worth the effort. Even if you live in the place for a year (most people will stay put for multiple years) you will be responsible for your own electricity consumption. Upgrade the appliances. For example, the fans are a no brainer. Ask your landlord to invest in the place and if they aren’t keen, invest in it yourself. When you move again take the appliances with you. The most you might have to pay is for an electrician to reconnect the older appliances.

UPDATE: as I’ve been finishing up this article the meters in the building have been upgraded to digital meters. Also, we are on the cusp of the introduction of higher tariffs. So all of my calculations are redundant. It now makes even more sense to use these hacks.

Have you tried hacking your electricity bill?. Whats been Your experience with it? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

New to the Blog you can head here to read what were on about.

18 comments

  1. Make an effort to turn off appliances when leaving the room, and turn of switches to washing machine, micro etc when not in use.

    The rest of your suggestions, ✓

    1. Spot On!. Dang I forgot to mention these as the basics. All appliance when left plugged in(wall switch on, device switched off) but switched off have some amount of parasitic draw. This can account for close to 5% of your electricity bill. Also forgetting to switch things like the water heater off can have a huge impact on electricity consumption. Maybe I should measure the current draw or electricity consumption of the hot water heater. And compare it to the payback of a solar system.

      Thanks a ton

  2. the flat owner says go back to your home town and do all this in your own house. saying so he raised the rent by five percent.

    1. HAHAHA. Youll still make up the 5% on the electricity cost. But then again depends on where you live and whats your rental.

  3. Amazing tips! The shower head one especially blew me away 😂.
    Was a good read, looking forward to more content from you.

    1. Thanks Stenford. It comes with a remote that has multiple features that vary between manufacturers and models. For example, ours has a timer function so the fan goes off after a specified number of hours. But the feature I love best is the sleep function. The fan starts at the speed you set but after a couple of hours drops the speed by 2 levels. So no waking up in the morning shivering to turn off the fan and go back to sleep.

    1. HAHAHAA.. its never too late to switch/ sell the fan on olx. but if youve just bought it might not make too much sense. P.s On full speed the fan is way too fast even in the summer. We usually operate it on speed 3 of 5. So savings on power are even more.

  4. I totally agree with Point 1
    Point 2: I switched from storage type geyser to an instant hot water shower. https://www.amazon.in/Electric-Instant-Shower-support-Included/dp/B01N20FQQ1. The slower you turn the flow the hotter the water gets. Great savings in water and electricity there
    Point 4: I fitted a 9″ reversible exhaust fan on all the bedroom windows. This fan is not meant to blow into the room but to only pull in the cool ambient night air into the room so I used a regulator to run them slow and noislessly. The room thus becomes as cool as it is outside. We use blankets from June to March, and our savings in electricity are tremendous by not using the A/C. Ofcourse this can be used only where the outside air is not polluted.

    1. Awesome. i love your idea for the reversible exhaust fans. Its going up on my list of things to do for the next round of home improvements.
      Althouhg im not too sure about the instant water heater. Usually the current draw from them is tremendous. We had one of the older Miranda showers if you can remember but they are total power hogs. A small capacity storage heater will suit your purpose better, but thats just IMHO
      Thanks a ton

      1. The water heater I mentioned has 2 settings, 2000W and 3000W (summer n winter). The 3-lit heater is 3000W. They are far better than the Miranda showers. and have water-saving heads, thus you are heating a lesser qty of water and by throttling the flow you get hotter water. Also unlike the storage htrs where a certain qty of heated water remains unutilised in the tank, this is instant, so all heated water is used.

  5. Don’t know where my earlier reply dissappeared to. So I have to re-write.
    The shower I mentioned is a generation ahead of the old Mirandas. They have water-saving heads, and summer & winter settings, i.e. 1870W and 3000W, unlike the Racold 3L which has only 3000W. Also, you can get hotter water at a lower setting by throttling the flow of water. Further in the 3 Lit heaters, a certain qty of heated water remains unutilized in the heater tank, as opposed to the instant shower where water is heated on demand.

    1. hey your previous reply did not disappear. All comments are moderated to keep the spam out. its a pain to do but its the only way the content here stays relevant. Im sorry if youv spent additional time wondering why yoru comment did not pop up.

      Coming back to our discussion on instant water heaters. i understand your perspective. but its not an apples to apples comparison. The need for instant heating makes the heating elements larger. That also usually leads to a higher instantaneous current draw as compared to a storage heater. This means more load on your electrical wiring and the grid. Instantaneous heaters can have high enough draw to cause a drop in your voltage at home. ( i used to burn through fuses at a ridiculous pace). The demand is also better supplied form a storage heater as compared to an instantaneous. Yes you can control the temperature by reducing the water flow through the element but beyond a certain point the reduced flow will suck all the fun out of a bath. From a pure. as regards to some water remaining in the heater. Ive learned to time my baths just right so just before i start i turn the heater off. coupled with my low flow shower head, it provides me with just enough water to have a complete bath before the water looses all heat. it also ensures that i dont overstay my welcome in the bath.

      But all in if you can restrict your time in the shower. Restrict the water flow rate and have the shower on its own circuit not linked to anything else, its possible that a modern instantaneous shower works out more energy efficient. But if you ask me we really are all just idiots till we start using the copious amounts of solar we are blessed with. i guess thats a topic for discussion in another article.

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