Energy tips coming to Simple-Fixes

If everyone does one small thing to save energy, the results are amazing. Read this post for a simple fixes example.

Change a light bulb, save some cash!
Change a light bulb, save some cash!

Over the years, I have evolved into a dyed-in-the-wool conservationist. Reuse, repurpose and recycle are three of my rules to live by in an effort to minimize my footprint. I suspect many readers have grown up hearing their parents say things like:

"Close the door, we aren't heating the neighborhood." Or, "Do you think we live in a barn?"

"Turn the lights out! You aren't even in your room!"

Person running up steps to light bulb
The douse-the-light dash

"Decide what you want before you open the refrigerator."

"There is no need to take a 30-minute hot shower."

When you aren't the one paying the utility bill, such admonitions seem needless and annoying. I heard all these and more, and as a kid thought them needless and annoying. However, in hindsight, I now believe they stuck in my subconscious, helping me to become a conservationist when it was my turn to pony up for the heat and light bills.

Energy tips

Before going to work for electric companies, my main incentive for reducing energy use was the amount of my monthly electric and gas bills. Energy conservation was beginning to be mandated by public service commissions around the US. They were requiring Demand Side Management ​(DSM) programs to be used to reduce demand for electricity and natural gas. This helped the environment and reduced the need to build new power plants.

Utilities started out providing comprehensive whole-house energy surveys and delivering a 40-page report to the customer. It was overwhelming and discouraging. To implement all the measures would cost a fortune. As a result, the customer typically did nothing at all.

Do one thing

Eventually, I started asking my customers to start by doing something as simple as replacing one 100 watt incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent (CFL) or LED alternative. Easy enough although both alternatives cost over $10 each when they first hit the market.

How can replacing a single bulb make any difference? Well according to Statista, there were 128.45 million households in the US in 2020. To spare you reading the underlying math (provided at the end of the article), this technique reduces nearly 30% of the output of a typical power plant.

Look for energy tips coming soon to a screen near you

No, not the silver screen, your device's screen. I don't think the topic of energy-saving tips would have much appeal as a movie. However, that's not the point. The point is to put easy-to-implement tips in your hands so you can take steps to save energy and lower bills. Simple fixes for your energy consumption!

Time for some math!

As promised, here's the rest of the story, thank you Paul Harvey for that saying.

1. Energy savings between a 100-watt incandescent bulb and the 15-watt CFL = 85 watts.

2. According to a US Department of Energy (DOE) study, each bulb is used an average of 1.6 hours per day.

3. Total watts saved per bulb = ((85 x 1.6) x 365) = 49,640 watts saved per bulb each year.

4. Total saved in the US each year = (49,640 x 1,284,500) = 63,762,580,000 watts.

Wow! That's a lot of watts, right?
Now let's see the impact on demand. To do this, we need to convert this figure into utility parlance; kilowatts (kW) and megawatts (MW).

There are 1000 watts in a kilowatt and 1000 kilowatts in a megawatt. That means the one-bulb replacement approach saved 63,762, 580 kW and 63,762.58 MW.

Bonus math: Utilities bill by kilowatt-hours (kWh), so in our example, this experiment saves 39,851,612.5 kWh.

So what you say. How does this affect anything? Hang on for more math, and you'll see.

A fairly common size for a power plant is 600 MW. This means the plant is capable of producing 800 MW every day. While actual results are different, for the sake of illustration, we'll say it always generates 600 MW per day.

Annual MW generated = 600 x 365 = 219,000

Annual MW saved = 63,762.58

63,792.58 / 219,000 = a 29.1% reduction in the plant's output every year. Also reduced are the related emissions and so forth.