By Jessica Oaks
You may not realize it, but at this very moment, you’re probably wasting electricity. Don’t feel too bad though; the fact of the matter is, most people are using more electricity than they need. The home is filled with electronic devices, and keeping track of them all can be a real hassle. Most of us tend not to think about it. After all, what damage can possibly be done by leaving the lights on in a room or setting the thermostat a couple of degrees cooler? Well, more than you probably think.
When it comes to electrical usage, one should think of the age-old economic theory, the Tragedy of the Commons. The principle is simple: Individuals acting rationally and in their own self-interest can actually act against the best interests of the group, by wasting a common resource needed by the collective whole. You may not believe that you’re using an exorbitant amount of electricity, but over time, this usage adds up. And this usage burdens the electrical grid and increases your spending. Thankfully, by being conscious of this fact, you can make changes that benefit your wallet, and the community as well.
Changing your habits
Lowering your electricity usage is like exercising and eating healthy – the only way to do it is to do it. Plain and simple. If you leave a room, switch off the lights and television; when you’re not at home during the day, set your thermostat at a higher temperature so that you’re not wasting electricity cooling an unoccupied house; and if you have old stereo or multimedia equipment – including DVD players, CD players or computers – unplug them rather than leave them in stand-by mode. Each of these actions can help you save electricity incrementally, all of which can lower your electricity bill. By how much? Well, consider these costs:
- Cost to run 5 incandescent bulbs: 30 cents per day or $110 per year
- Additional cost of running Non-EnergyStar-rated television: $55 per year
- Cost of running multimedia devices in stand-by mode: $67 per year
- Cost of running air conditioning while at work: $200 per season
Simply by changing your electricity usage habits, you can save hundreds of dollars over the course of a year. With that money, you could buy a new EnergyStar-rated TV set, make a car payment, take the family to Disneyland or buy new furniture. Most people, if told they could make an extra $500 simply by switching off lights, adjusting their thermostats and unplugging old DVD players, would probably jump at the opportunity to do so. Well, you can!
Technology is your friend
Modern technology is your ally when it comes to saving electricity. Not only because modern devices use far less electrical power than devices of old – an EnergyStar-rated television is on average 25 percent more efficient than a traditional television – but also because there are more and more tools available to help manage electricity usage.
Samsung spearheaded the Smart Home initiative with energy-efficient devices and appliances that can all be synced together, so that they run smoothly, and more importantly, efficiently. With sync devices like those offered by Samsung, you will never have to worry about leaving the air on all day again, because you will be notified via text if you are away for a certain amount of time. That is the promise of modern technology, and why individuals who are interested in saving electricity should be adopting these new devices.
Samsung is so committed to the home of the future, in fact, that the company has filed more than 150 patents with the United States patent office over the last decade or so related to home automation. It is a concept that makes sense in principle – control all of your electronic devices at once, centrally and remotely – but only recent technological developments, such as smartphones and wireless connectivity, have actually made it possible in practice. Adoption may be slow at present, but with each passing year, you can expect devices like the Nest thermostat, recently purchased by Google for $3.2 billion, to start becoming commonplace. If indicators are to be believed, the long-promised Jetsons home of the future may finally be upon us!
Jessica is a freelance journalist who loves to cover technology news and the ways that technology makes life easier. She also blogs at FreshlyTechy.com. Check her out on Twitter @TechyJessy.