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.
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.
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