In this blog post, we decided to take a less technical approach by simplifying our recommendations to reach a wider audience regardless of their technical or non-technical backgrounds and provide understandable suggestions to enable all in bettering their understanding of electricity, their energy consumption habits & some methods outlined below can help reduce our carbon footprint whilst saving money in the process. We hope you enjoy reading this post!
Many of us might not be aware of this, but electrical devices, even when not in use, as long as they are plugged in, are drawing small amounts of power continuously. According to estimates, energy used from appliances that are plugged in, & not fully turned off, may represent up to 10%-15% of your monthly electricity bill! Simply, because electrical currents are still flowing through the devices at very low levels. Low enough to the extent that the equipment is not “switched on and operational” but enough to accumulate considerable energy costs over a long period of time which can reflect itself in your annual electric bill.
In sum, energy is still being consumed without your knowledge simply because your devices are plugged in! An easier way to notice this is to observe a standby indicator light, usually yellow or red depending on the device you are using. For TVs, gaming devices, washing machines, microwaves or even smart fans, etc, you’ll notice a red or yellow light on the device. In other words, it’s still consuming energy! Even if it might seem negligible at first.
Why this can add up is simply because, in the modern home, you can find at least 10 different types of equipment that are plugged in. Unplugging them can help save you at least 100-200 USD depending on the type of equipment, their standard power consumption, your frequency of usage, duration of usage and the overall number of electrical - equipment you own. Although it might not be feasible or possible to unplug all the equipment you own, it is definitely worth trying to compare your monthly energy bill.
Lastly, another added advantage of unplugging your devices is protection from uncontrolled voltage surges. Energy efficiency, power monitoring & control systems, and power quality thresholds have definitely improved and stabilized across Cambodia over the past decade. Although voltage surges used to be a more prevalent problem of the past in Cambodia, unfortunately, this continues to be a normal occurrence in developing countries without robust power-system infrastructure. Unplugging electrical devices is a simple straightforward way to reduce your monthly bill and safeguard against the loss of electrical equipment.
2. OPTING FOR ENERGY EFFICIENT ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT & REPLACING OLD EQUIPMENT.
Electrical equipment & appliances are not built to last forever. Producers will normally state the service life of equipment & energy efficiency ratings certified by local regulators on the appliance or within the packaging, brochure or technical documentation. Different countries or regions also have different standards for rating energy efficiency as labels.
For example, in the EU region, a grading scale from A to G is used to rate energy efficiency of appliances. “A” being the most efficient while “G” being the least. In South Korea, a 5-point scale is used which is used to rate equipment from 1 to 5. With 1 being the most energy efficient while 5 being the least. These labels are also accompanied by detailed information such as carbon emissions and estimated power consumption in Watts (W) based on usage assumptions.
In simpler terms, the higher the energy efficiency ratings of an appliance, the lower the amount of energy consumed to achieve the same level of performance amongst similar models with the same size or capacity. Therefore, it costs you less to run over a year.
Looking out for these when replacing or purchasing new equipment can make a huge difference in your energy efficiency & therefore your monthly electricity bill.
Lastly, it’s important to remember that as electrical equipment suffer wear and tear over the use of their lifetime, older equipment not only depreciates in their value but more so in their ability to maintain set standards of energy efficiency that were initially certified & labeled onto the product when first purchased.
3. INVESTING IN A HOME AUTOMATION SYSTEM.
Home automation systems or building management systems (BMS) are fast becoming the new norm for industrial, commercial, or residential property owners for a variety of purposes. Depending on your home and the level of complexity, a home automation system can monitor and/or control aspects of your home such as its lighting, indoor climate, individual appliances such as your aircon or washing machine, and entertainment systems. In more sophisticated systems, control and monitoring also extends to your security systems such as physical access control, alarm systems, and camera security. In some of the latest and highly sophisticated home camera security systems, smart software is used for object & human detection through machine learning systems.
As such, “smart-homes” or home-automation systems are making it ever so easier for homeowners to monitor, control, and reduce their energy consumption through the data collected by the system. By first, taking steps to gain vital power data (kW/h) & then understanding your home’s energy consumption trends, homeowners and inhabitants will be in a better position to make informed decisions to effectively start reducing unnecessary energy consumption & increase energy efficiency. There’s a number of ways you can reduce your carbon foot-print & your energy bill through a home-automation system:
Lighting systems, lamps, or bulbs with motion or noise sensing capabilities are becoming ever more common. Even without integration with smart-home software or machine learning engines, certain lighting assets can operate independently when the light/motion sensor for a designated space or room is triggered. Additionally, lighting systems can also be programmed to dim or brighten during sunset or sunrise.
These methods can ensure lighting is only used when necessary & optimize energy usage. According to a joint study conducted by the UNEP (United Nations Energy Programme) in which some findings of its U4E (United for Efficiency) mandate were presented. The study found that high-efficiency lighting technologies offer up to an 85% improvement in energy efficiency compared to conventional lighting technologies whilst providing equal or better quality lighting. This is more reason to consider a commonly ignored aspect of our homes, such as lighting, more carefully for achieving maximum energy efficiency gains.
Scheduling temperature changes to meet your specific needs is another feature home automation systems provide. Automatic management of your homes’ air conditioning & heating can easily provide significant savings consistently any time you are away from home. This will ensure more accurate control over the usage of HVAC (Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems). In more sophisticated systems, climate control can be coupled with control over shading, curtains & ceiling fans to increase control over indoor climate for more accuracy, therefore, further increasing savings. A recently released study conducted by a U.K based home automation manufacturer estimated a 10-12% increase in heating efficiency, 15% increase in cooling efficiency and an average of $131-$145 USD in cost savings per year through the use of its systems’.
C- “ALL OFF” COMMAND.
Imagine, you leave home in a hurry and suddenly realize you left your iron on. Soon you start thinking about the other devices you might have left on as well such as your audio speakers, aircon, television, and fans. This is a common occurrence! In one survey, up to 90% of American households claim that they’ve left the light on at some point without remembering to turn it off. Whether you’re heading out for a quick lunch, work, or vacation, a home automation system can be programmed to execute a simple “all off” command with the touch of a button over a smart-phone app or PC application to turn off all systems & electronic devices that are still running. Similarly, the home automation system software can also set up alarm notifications in the event that the sensors are triggered due to inactivity in a household space or that you have simply left your home whilst electrical devices are still running. This simple feature can provide effective means of saving energy & reducing your household's overall carbon footprint.
In addition to unplugging devices to avoid “phantom energy drain”, a home automation system can also come in to tackle this as the software integrates your home's smart devices onto a single platform to communicate, monitor and control. As such, through the home automation system, one can exercise greater control over your home’s devices by making them “smarter”. The latest progress in IoT (Internet of Things) technology can also extend to “things” such as “electrical switchboards” for homes and is potentially capable of undoing any appliance’s “Standby” mode and turning devices off completely into full shutdown or into lower states of operation to minimize energy consumption. These options & features can also translate energy efficiency gains into higher monthly savings on your electric bill.
Air-conditioners, refrigerators & other heavy-duty appliances consume the bulk of your home’s energy. These appliances generate heat which can wear down existing wiring if they are of subpar quality. This can lead to electrical overload which would mean higher electric bills and potential fire hazards. If your home is older than 20 or 30 years, then it would be best to consider electrical rewiring! In order to do this, you will need to take into account the number of appliances you use and the “amperage” required for your home. Depending on the amp rating, an electrician will be able to guide you on whether your home will require 100-amp or 200-amp wiring and the material you should avoid using. Copper is the better alternative compared to aluminium although it is more expensive, it has a significantly reduced risk of overheating and causing an electrical fire. In the long run, saving you money.
Lastly, have you ever felt a slight tingling sensation when using your laptop when it is plugged into your home’s charging socket or any other small electrical appliance? Do your new appliances get damaged quickly? If so, then it is highly likely that your home doesn’t have adequate electrical grounding! If your home lacks electrical grounding, this is both fatal & expensive! To solve this, you can install three-prong outlets for all your major appliances to ensure proper grounding to ensure any excess electricity will not get into the device but into the ground, therefore increasing your device’s overall longevity, reducing electric shock hazards, and lowering your electric costs due to lesser electric loss.
Your home can waste a lot of energy and keep your electric bill high if it isn’t properly insulated. Even if you set your air conditioner or heating system to optimal energy-saving temperatures. This is why good insulation comes into play and can help keep interior temperatures consistent while preventing indoor air from escaping too easily & preventing outdoor air from seeping in. Apart from building materials, you can seal gaps in the window frame better or replace the glass with double-glazed windows.
Double or triple glazed windows offer better insulation efficiency compared to standard single glazed windows which also translate to higher cost-savings on your energy bills. Additionally, they also offer better soundproofing. This can be slightly more expensive compared to sealing your windows, but the one-off costs of upgrading your windows’ glass quality will definitely pay off in the long run in the form of lower electric bills.
The more cost-effective alternative is to check if your current windows are properly sealed or weatherstripped especially during the hotter weather seasons. You can use caulk material to seal any leak you locate and instantly see savings in your monthly bills. The US Department of Energy states that reducing leaks and drafts in the home can save homeowners from 5%- 30% in energy costs per year!
In closing, we hope that you found some of these tips insightful & helpful! Try it out & let us know if you were able to make an impact in reducing your energy costs!
Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to get in touch and if you have any questions!