Welcome to our new series Energy Diaries, where we’ll track electricity use to help you make changes that save energy – and money.
Average Monthly Electricity Bill: $100
7:30 a.m. – I want to smash the alarm; instead I just turn it off. Roughly. Next stop – my phone; it has been plugged in all night, although I know it eats up electricity. I do unplug the charger. I switch the light on in my closet, select my clothes, then turn the light off as I walk out. Next, I turn on the light in the bathroom and hop in the shower.
Energy Used: phone charger, closet light, bathroom light, shower
Energy Saving Opportunities: I could charge my phone before I go to sleep to avoid leaving it plugged in overnight. My showers last about 15 minutes, which could be shortened to save water and electricity. Plus, I could lower the thermostat setting on my water heater to 120 degrees.
8 a.m. – Once I’m dressed, I turn off the light in the bathroom and check to make sure my thermostat is at 78. I sleep in cooler temperatures but program my thermostat to rise to 78 degrees at 7:30 a.m. The upstairs will stay at this higher temperature until 9:30 p.m. unless I override it. Downstairs, I open the blinds instead of turning on lights. Although this makes the house warmer, I figure I’ll save more on lighting than I’ll spend on turning down the temperature a few degrees. My home has a split A/C unit, so I can control the temperature downstairs without changing the settings upstairs. This saves money on my electricity bill.
Energy Used: air conditioning
Energy Saving Opportunities: I could program my air conditioning to turn off when I’m not home.
9 a.m. – After tidying the living room and kitchen a bit, I make toast. I get the butter from the refrigerator and close it quickly. I keep things I use often in plain sight to avoid keeping the refrigerator open too long. Once I’m done eating, I rinse my plate and put it in the dishwasher.
Energy Used: refrigerator
12 p.m. – I don’t have much planned, so I set out to do some work left over from the week. My laptop is dead, so I plug it in and get to work.
Energy Use: computer charger, wifi
Energy Saving Opportunities: I shouldn’t bring my laptop home when it’s dead. If I charge it at the office, I don’t need to use my electricity at home.
3 p.m. – I’m done with work responsibilities, so I unplug my computer and realize that I’m starved. I have shrimp and veggies in the fridge, so I put them on a sheet pan to roast at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. After eating, I put the dishes in the dishwasher.
Energy Use: oven, refrigerator
Energy Saving Opportunities: Avoid the oven over the summer. Instead, I can make more foods that don’t require cooking or heating.
5 p.m. – I usually reserve weekends for home projects, so I go to the hardware store for some essentials. I turn off the A/C before I leave. Once I return, I bring in the supplies through the garage using the garage door opener. Armed with paint and brushes, I turn on the lights and ceiling fan to help ventilate the room while I paint.
Energy Use: garage door opener, fan
Energy Saving Opportunities: The garage door opener uses electricity to open and close, so I should use the front door instead.
8 p.m. – It’s dark, so I turn on some lights as I head downstairs for food. I settle on leftovers from lunch. I pop the shrimp and veggies in the microwave and use it as filling for fajitas. I take advantage of the microwave whenever possible because it uses less power than the oven or stove. Fajitas eaten, I put the plate in the dishwasher and, noticing it’s full, set it to wash. I like to run the dishwasher no more than twice a week to save on electricity.
Energy Use: microwave, dishwasher, kitchen lights
Energy Saving Opportunities: I should set the dishwasher to run with cold or warm water to save on water heating. Also, I could disable heated drying and let the dishes drip dry.
10 p.m. – Time for bed, so I turn off the lights downstairs and head up to my room. The A/C temperature drops to 72 degrees around this time thanks to my programmable thermostat. I turn on the television to the news before I go to sleep. I don’t bother turning it off before I fall asleep because it’s on a timer that turns it off after an hour of inactivity.
Energy Use: television, wifi
Energy Saving Opportunities: I know the low temperature adds significantly to my electric bill. I could get used to sleeping in warmer temperatures. Despite the timer on the television, it shouldn’t be left on if I’m going to fall asleep.
As I recorded my energy consumption, I noticed I spent the most energy on the things I don’t realize are on all day. I was surprised these miscellaneous objects that are plugged in all day take up more energy than air conditioning and lighting combined.
Based on my $100 electricity bill, here’s how much I spent in the 6 main categories: