Mar 072010

Since I was little, I remember my dad running around behind us, turning off lights grumbling, “Does someone own stock in the Electric Company?!” (I’ll leave the discussion of how the concept of owning stock is lost on 6 year olds for another time).

I forgot all about that until I began using a home office for my inspection business (about 4 years ago). Somehow, I overlooked the fact that being home all day, running appliances, using lights, etc, would increase my bills.

Now, I am that guy. Holiday lights aside (my house is only slightly less gaudy than Chevy Chase’s in “Christmas Vacation“), I am now the one who walks through the house turning off the TV no one is watching, unplugging the coffee pot, and other crazy idiosyncrasies that suddenly manifested themselves once my home office started impacting my bills.

So, for those of you looking to save money or energy (or both!) here are a few tips:

1) Replace incandescent light bulbs with lower wattage Compact Fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. They use 50-75% less electricity and last 10 times longer. These are not the humming, eerie fluorescent lights you remember from your youth – they were actually preferred over incandescent light in a blind study. The savings can be as much as $60 per year. Don’t quite get it? Here it is in plain English (amusing and informative, I promise!).

2) Beware “Vampire Appliances!” – put your energy sucking devices on power strips that can be conveniently turned off when not in use. In the average home, there are 20 ‘vampire appliances, and up to 40% of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off. Yes, they use power even when off! One example: a computer screen on “standby power” uses on $3/year if the computer is shut off at night, but if the computer is on “sleep” (left on) most nights, that figure jumps to $43. Cable boxes, Satellite receivers and DVDs and VCRs are notorious energy suckers. It is estimated that the average household has 20 of these items, and the associated energy drain costs about $200 per year.

3) Buy ENERGY STAR rated appliances. These appliances use approximately 30% less energy than their regular counterparts. The refrigerator is the big energy hog – cleaning the coils can improve efficiency and reduce energy use, but in general, this is the one appliance where energy efficiency makes a BIG difference.

For those who are statistically oriented, here is where your energy dollars go:

AC/Heat: 60%

Water Heater: 16%

Refrigerator: 12%

Lighting: 7%

Computer, TV, etc: 5%

Finally, for those of you that are like to toy around with the idea of upgrading a furnace or adding insulation and wonder how much it would help, here is a neat interactive tool to conduct your own “hypothetical” Energy Audit.

Now if can just get my daughter to turn off the TV when she leaves the room……

Joe Michalski

Sherlock Homes Inspections

Joseph Michalski is more than just a highly experienced home inspector and Owner of Sherlock Homes Inspections, near Philadelphia. He is an educator, teaching clients about their homes in terms even the least handy of homeowners can understand. He is a strong advocate for consumers, publishing articles to help and protect people in their homes. He is an innovator in the home inspection field, offering unprecedented levels of choices (in inspection types, prices, and formats) to clients. And he is a comunity leader, establishing a non-profit foundation to offer free child proofing inspections for single and low-income mothers, free safety inspections for seniors, and helping raise awareness of simple household dangers. Details on all of these topics can be found at

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Joseph Michalski

  One Response to “Fighting Vampire Appliances, and Other Ways to Trim Your Electric Bill”

Comments (1)
  1. Hey this is a great post. I’m going to email this to my friends. I stumbled on this while surfing for some free songs, I’ll be sure to come back. thanks for sharing.


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