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Discover how to cut your Energy Bill by a Third who can look at all the energy suppliers

If your last month’s electric bill was $300. That was ridiculous. Something had to be done. By using gadgets, common sense, and a constant awareness of power consumption, you should have made changes that will cut your power bill by at least a third. It is important to start with common sense tips that require no extra equipment so anyone can start lowering their power consumption right now. But if you’re serious about lowering your electricity usage dramatically, tools that tell you exactly what’s drawing power in your home down to the circuit level. Once you know exactly what’s wasting money, you will have some advanced tips and equipment you can use to do something about it.

The stuff you can do right now

Turn off your lights

Go around your house and turn off all the lights you’re not using, especially if you’re using old style incandescent light bulbs. Bathrooms, closets, and sometimes kitchens use incandescent lights because unlike compact fluorescents, they get up to maximum brightness right away. When all you want to do is take a leak or check the mirror, CFLs won’t even be done going through their 5 minute warmup stage up by the time you’re washing your hands. Another alternative is LED bulbs, which are dramatically more expensive upfront, but don’t have the drawbacks of CFL and behave more like a traditional light.

Unplug stuff you rarely use

I have an exercise room with a treadmill and a TV inside. I don’t use them nearly as often as I should, which means they could theoretically sit plugged in for weeks for no reason. Stuff like TVs and other stereo equipment still draw power when they’re plugged in but off—which is called vampire drain—due to the fact that they have to still power their IR receivers for your remote control to work. You’ll need to physically unplug these things from the wall to eliminate any power consumption when not in use.

Don’t use your AC so damn much

Your air conditioning power usage is a very nebulous thing, because unless you physically track how long your AC was on (including all the stops and starts), compare it to how much electricity your other electronics are using, then somehow correlate that with your bill at the end of the month, you’re really in the dark. But trust me when I say that it’s a lot. Depending on the weather, how much you use it and what other electronics you have, you could be paying more for AC than everything else in your house put together.

Turn off your electronics, especially your computers, when you’re not using them

This point, just like turning off your lights, is a super obvious thing that all of us knows, but don’t religiously follow, because we’re not electricity nazis. Unless you’re torrenting at night, or hosting a Minecraft server for your friends, you don’t really need to have your computer on when you’re asleep. I know it’s nice to not have to wait 5 minutes to get started in the day, but are those five minutes really worth keeping your computer on overnight and spending $1.85 a month?

Find out exactly what’s using so much power

The basic method

The cheap way of examining your electronics is to go around with a Killawatt or a Belkin Conserve Insight and plugging all your devices, one by one, into it and seeing how much power they draw. This is easy for something like a computer or a microwave, because you know exactly when they’re on and off. But for something intermittent that cycles between drawing a lot of power and very little power, like a refrigerator or a water cooler, this is more difficult. But, using this and knowing the best energy suppliers will let you realize that—holy crap—my hot pot cooker uses 2,000 watts. Or that maybe it’s really not a good idea to leave your TV on when you’re not using it.

The Batman method

If you really want to get serious about knowing exactly how much power use is going on—and I mean the kind of serious you get when you get a $300 bill in the mail, get an eMonitor from Powerhouse Dynamics.

Traditional smart meter solutions that hook up to your meter—which are difficult or impossible to install if you live in a multi-unit complex or an apartment—can only tell you how much power your entire house is using as a whole.

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