Save money by using less power

by Marcel 5 July 2012

With electricity costs creeping up to almost 20 cents per kilowatt hour, small changes in your power use can save you hundreds of euros per year. Find out which of your appliances use the most power, and see if you can change the way you use them to save power. To work out how much an applicance costs you per year you can use this (very rough) calculation:

For every watt an appliance uses, double it to find the cost in Euro's per year if it is left on 24hrs a day. For example, near our stairwell is a lamp  that is never switched off for safety reasons. We used to have a 25 watt bulb there costing us 50 euros per year, by replacing this with a 10 euro LED lamp at 2.5 watts our costs have dropped to 5 euro per year.... the LED lamp paid for itself in less than half a year!

The way we've saved on our energy costs is to make changes that don't have much of an impact on our lifestyle...

  • I refuse to pull the plugs on my TV, stereo etc. to save on 'standby power'. 
  • I'm not going to time my showers to shave a minute of my showering time.
  • I will not follow the kids around the house switching off the lights.

A few small things that have made a noticable difference in our energy use (we're saving about 20-25% since I began this project)

  • Shutting the PC down instead of putting it into sleep mode saved about 80 watts of continual use.
  • Getting a cheap fridge thermometer allowed us to adjust the temperatue setting to the perfect temp. (don't forget the freezer)
  • Switching to LED lighting, with normal use (about 4 hours a day) a cheap LED light will pay for itself within a year.
  • Moving important file sharing tasks to the NAS instead of using a desktop computer. (and schedule the NAS to sleep at night)

Another important thing is to know what your electricity use is! It's no use trying to save electricity with an appliance that uses very little power, start with a simple meter and test your applicances to know what their use is. (I use a Belkin energy meter)

By using a meter I found that my TV used less than 1 watt in standby mode, for me their is no point in trying to fix this, but I did find that my desktop PC was using 80 watts while sleeping... that's 160 euro per year, more than a tenner per month! By measuring your electricity use you can get a better picture of what your costly appliances are and make changes...



Spend less than you earn

by Marcel 15 February 2012

It's actually quite simple, Spending less than your income will save you money and a lot of stress. But, of course it's easier said than done...

My way of keeping track of income/spend is the following:

- Create a simple spreadsheet listing all of your monthly bills in one column. (rent/mortgage, gas, insurance etc.) these are costs that will not fluctuate all that much.

- Then create a second column showing your income.

Something like this:

Date Costs Income Description
2 30   Internet
5 35   Phone
10 600   Rent
11 50   Gas/Elec.
27   1500 Salary
28 100
30 25   Bus pass
Totals 840 1500  

This is a very simple example, but you should get the idea. Once you have this finished you know exactly what you have left for the month, in this case 660 euro.

With the left over amount you still need to buy groceries, clothes etc, work out how much you need per week, say 100 euro and add a little more just in case. In my example we'll reserve 450 euro (per month) for groceries/clothes and other things.

monthly Cost Description
  440 Groceries
  100  Clothing
 50 Other
Total 590

That leaves you with 70 euro to put in your savings account. It doesn't sound like much, but after a year you'll have 840 euro in your savings account which is 840 more than you would normally have. Most people find that once the savings account starts to grow they find more ways to save their money and it grows much faster. Also, don't forget the extras like bonuses, birthday gift money, tax returns etc

Not only do you know exactly what is coming in/going out but you also know where you could save a few euros, that magazine/newspaper subscription you don't really have the time to read, cancel it and save 10 euros for savings, or an extra treat every now and again.


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