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Things you can do to save electricity that actually work

Things you can do to save electricity that actually work

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With the price of energy soaring, more and more people are wondering what they can do to save electricity. As in any aspect of life, there are many things you can do, but in the end just a few of them will account for most of the savings.

It is like applying the Pareto Principle to your savings. In a nutshell, this principle states that 20% of your effort produces 80% of the final result, which is why it is also known as the 80/20 rule.

In other words, 80% of the actions you take do help you reach your goal, but these are just the last 20% of icing on the cake, getting you up to 100% of your target. And when it comes to saving money, the key is to conserve your efforts because saving in itself is not enjoyable. That is why in this article on how to save electricity we are not going to list all the tricks for spending less on energy, we are going to focus only on the most useful ones, the ones that require the least effort and give the best results.

Check your gas and electricity tariffs

The type of contract you have determines how much you pay for electricity and energy in your home. Getting this right is undoubtedly the biggest source of savings, especially in times like the present when energy prices are skyrocketing.

The only drawback is that understanding your electricity bill can be complicated, and understanding what each company offers you through their contracts is even more difficult. Fortunately, you don’t need to become an expert or a guru to save money on your electricity bill.

What you should know is that in Spain there are two types of tariffs (markets, in fact). On the one hand there is the regulated market, which operates with a variable energy price and the famous PVPC (or Voluntary Price for Small Consumers) tariffs with hourly rates according to three different periods.

On the other hand, there is the free market, where companies can set the price structure they want. This is where there is more choice (also more complex to understand) and where there are tariffs with a fixed price per kW or that combine gas and electricity.

Prior to the increase in the price of electricity, tariffs with time discrimination allowed you to save more on your electricity bill, as long as you used 30% of your electricity within the two most economical time slots. However, currently and until the return to normality, the free market tariffs with a fixed price offer greater savings and, above all, the convenience of not waiting to put the washing machine on, start the dishwasher, or cook.

Control the maximum contracted power

All homes have a maximum contracted power that determines the simultaneous usage that can be achieved before the circuit breaker is tripped. In other words, how many devices you can plug in at the same time.

The most common wattage for an average apartment is between 3.45 kW and 5.75 kW, although it all depends on the square meters, the type of appliances you have and how you organize their use.

The following table from Juan Energy-Juan XXIII Foundation summarizes the power you need depending on your home.

SURFACE AREA m2Basic equipmentAverage equipment
Up to 60 m23 kW3.45 kW
From 60 m2 to 90 m23.45 kW4.6 kW
From 90 m2 to 140 m24.6 kW5.75 kW
Greater than 140 m25.75 kW6.9 kW

Reducing the power you have contracted will allow you to save between 45 and 50 euros per year for each kilowatt you decrease.

Control the temperature inside your home

Both in the summer and winter, keep the house at the right temperature to limit energy costs. And what should this temperature be? A study by IDAE, the Institute for the Diversification and Saving of Energy, calculates between 20 and 21 degrees during the day and between 17 and 15 at night in winter and a little higher in summer.

These figures can vary depending on the relative humidity of the home, as shown in this IDEA chart.

SeasonOperating temperature ºCRelative humidity %
Summer23 to 2540...60
Winter21 to 2340...50

Each extra degree will increase your usage by an additional 7%. Imagine that you spend 100 euros a month on heating, each increase translates into 7 euros a month.

The best way to regulate the temperature in your home is with a thermostat. If, in addition, it can be programmed and made to work automatically, it is easier not to deviate from these recommended temperatures.

Of course, if you are not so sensitive to heat and cold, you can adjust the temperature even more in winter and summer, and save even more. In this sense, adapting the clothes you wear at home during the winter can help you limit your heating costs.

Use the eco mode and reduce the hot water you use

Hot water is one of the main energy expenses and limiting it is relatively easy by changing a few habits. If you want to save in this department you just have to:

  • Use the eco mode, which are programs that last longer, but consume less energy by washing at lower temperatures.
  • Wash clothes at a lower temperature than indicated by the washing machine program. Normally 30ºC is hot enough and even a cold wash is sufficient in many cases.
  • Limit shower time and avoid baths.

Take advantage of power strips to unplug any devices you aren’t using

Leaving things on standby can mean an additional expense of more than 100 euros per year. One way to eliminate this is to use power strips for devices that you can turn off for several hours a day.

As an example, you can put the router, television, telephone, etc. on a power strip that you turn off at night when you go to sleep, when you won’t need any of these devices. And the same when you go to work.

The more time you spend away from home, the more useful this energy saving trick becomes.

Check your home’s insulation

Your home’s insulation is key to spending less on electricity. According to a study by the Enea Group, good thermal insulation saves an average of 20% per year, which would translate into around 400 euros for a family that spends 100 euros per month on energy.

In fact, IDEA estimates the impact of windows on household energy consumption to be as much as 30%.

Of the two options, the second tends to be the cheaper and more efficient.

In any case, improving in either area will help you save energy. In addition, there is now a tax deduction for improving the energy efficiency of the home.

You can also do other things, such weatherstripping your doors to keep drafts out. This will help you insulate your home better and save on heating costs, too.

Change the light bulbs at home

The last of the most effective tricks to save electricity is to change your light bulbs, especially if you still have any incandescent bulbs in your home.

The light bulbs that use the least energy are LEDs. These also last the longest. The only drawback is that they are also the most expensive, although they are a worthwhile investment, since they consume only 30% of the energy a fluorescent bulb needs.

How much you save in euros will depend a lot on how much you use them. In other words, the number of light bulbs you turn on at home and for how long. If your house has good natural light and you do not use light bulbs very much, the savings will be greater.

One last trick to save energy with light bulbs is to check the number you have in each room. Where you have more than two, try taking one out and see how it affects the lighting. You might not even notice.

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