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The shocking truth about your electric bill

The Shocking Truth About Your Electric Bill

The average New York State home owner pays nearly 17 cents for every kilowatt hour of electricity they use. That’s more than in any other state in the entire country with the exception of Hawaii and Connecticut. What’s worse, the Department of Energy predicts that national prices are going to increase 3.6 percent in 2009.

If nothing else, the rising costs are making more people turn their attention toward their energy consumption and reducing their overall electric bill. Fortunately, reducing what you pay doesn’t have to mean that you start washing your clothes in the river and hanging them in trees. You should be able to reduce your bills without sacrificing your lifestyle. If you turn your attention to the big energy drains in your home you’re more than halfway there, but if you want to go all the way, there are some secret energy wasters you should know about.

The biggest culprits are always going to be the big energy hogs: air conditioning, heating, water heaters, refrigerators and clothes dryers. Simple ways to reduce your energy consumption here:

– replace the filter in your air conditioner
– even better, use ceiling fans instead of air conditioning
– turn off the heat when you’re not using it and heat only the rooms you’re using
– there’s no sense in heating the outside of your home so check for drafts around your house and block them. Install weather stripping, new windows and insulation where necessary.
– wrap up your water heater in a cozy tinfoil blanket that keeps the heat in and your costs down
– use an energy efficient refrigerator
– wash laundry in cold water

Not all your energy use is going to be so obvious though. In fact,a great deal of your electric bill is the sum of hundreds and hundreds of tiny electrical transactions that cost a couple of cents each. But they add up. The truth is, the average American household simply uses more electricity than ever before because they own and use more things that plug into the wall. For instance: computer equipment, modems and routers, DVD players, video game systems, multiple TVs, cordless telephones, clocks, rice cookers, espresso machines, baby monitors. You name it, we’ve automated it and arranged it so it plugs in.

Of course, you never use these things all at once and you have them turned off most of the time, right? Wrong. Modern appliances are so bent on being convenient that turning them off doesn’t necessarily stop them from using power 24 hours a day. Any appliances that are built to receive signals from a remote, power a continuous display or otherwise be at the ready for your next whim, remain on until you physically unplug them from the wall. Some estimates say that approximately 5% of household electricity goes toward powering a bunch of stuff that appears as if it’s already off. That’s a whole lot of paying for nothing.

So if you want to save money, but can’t live without your blinking computer, the espresso machine that talks to you or the video game and entertainment system that’s wired into the surround sound, that’s fine. But when you’re done using them, unplug them. Or if you want to be stylish about it, plug them all into a power bar that you can switch off when you’re not using them.

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