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sfgal's avatar

What percentage of a household electricity bill typically comes from lights?

Asked by sfgal (277 points ) August 11th, 2007

I always try to get my roommates to turn off the lights when they leave (to no avail). I've tried some other things that seem to have made a small dent on my energy bill (washing clothes only in cold water, turning off the auto-dry on my dishwasher...this seems to have reduced my bill by about $5 a month). Now I'm wondering, how much do lights comprise my energy usage, anyway? Isn't the fridge the thing that uses the most energy in my house?

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15 Answers

segdeha's avatar

If you have an electric water heater, that probably uses the most electricity in the house. I've always had gas water heaters until my current house, and boy howdy, my energy bill is high.

joli's avatar

I think the fridge is the biggest user of energy in any home. I bought a decent mini-fridge, (one with a separate freezer compartment,) and it paid for itself with my $35.00 less a month savings on the PG&E; bill. I have a gas water heater which I turn down in the morning after my shower, and up again just before, during the week. (I leave it up on weekends to do laundry and run the mini dishwasher!) That saves me another bundle a month. I started this when they promised natural gas prices would continue to rise, about 6 years ago. I do think lights on cost you money, but constant on and off wears out the bulb, another thing to consider. Back to the fridge, if it's ridiculous for you to manage with a smaller fridge you can fill the empty spaces with gallons of water. A full fridge runs more efficiently and produces less white noise! I think conservation is something your parents teach by example, it's difficult to get someone who doesn't count the pennies to relate to how little trouble it actually is to think in terms of less, not more. I try not to waste water as well. The cost went up 25% in San Francisco two years ago. Yikes! I now garden in the front of the house only and zip through the shower process.

gooch's avatar

hot water heater is the largest cosumer of electricity followed by an AC if you live in the south...other big consumers are the oven and the clothes dryer. If it has a big plug in it suck electricity...have you tried the floresent lightbulbs that replace incondssent ones they pay for temself in energy savings over time. As a whole lights are not the largest consumers in the home but why waste

kevbo's avatar

My buddy lived through the California energy crisis a few years ago. He and his roommate unplugged and plugged in everything while watching the electric meter. Among their findings, the toaster oven consumed lots of electricity even when it wasn't in use.

kevbo's avatar

p.s. Incandescents also produce a lot of heat, which is obviously a raw deal in the summertime.

gooch's avatar

True the heat given off by appliances cause your AC to run more....Computers constantly running produce heat it best to turn them off when you are not using them. Also turning things off reduces the chances of a fire in the home.

gailcalled's avatar

Yes to everything practical. I unplug lamps, alarm clocks, etc. in rooms that get little use. Always unplug toaster and other small appliances. I thrown heater switch on water heater when I'm away for a few days...even unplug my radio, CD player when not using .Short showers, not flushing toilets every time, using gray water for gardens, and general common sense makes a difference. Hanging clothes on line or racks is wonderful - an exercise unit, clothes smell nice and you use only solar power.

If you need a new appliance, make sure to get the energy-efficient Star ones.

hollywoodduck's avatar

Yes, lights in your house add up to a lot of energy. I suggest trying the Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs. Also, unplug, unplug, unplug. Just because something is turned off doesn’t mean it stops using electricity. We try to keep as many things as possible unplugged while we aren’t using them. It makes a big difference.

8lightminutesaway's avatar

The lights aren’t huge, but still significant. Get the compact flourescents though, if you can, they use a lot less power and less heat. Like others are saying, unplug unplug unplug. Its important, appliances use a lot more energy while off than you’d expect. Or, if you don’t want to unplug, use a surge protector and just flip the switch to cut power. The fridge is big too. Like joli said, fill the unused space in your fridge with big water bottles. Water absorbs heat a lot slower than air, so once its cold, the fridge doesn’t have to work as hard to keep that volume at that temperature. The technical term is thermal mass :).

Back to lights, LED lights use ridiculously low amounts of power, much less than even compact fluorescents. There are companies selling LEDs in typical house lighting fixtures, though they might be a little expensive. Check it out :)

Pay attention to your windows and the shades too, they can have a big impact on heating/cooling of your house. I won’t go into now, but if you want, look up passive solar online to get the scoop.

jballou's avatar

A good trick is to try and get your electronics (TV, video games, stereo equipement) and put them on a good power strip/surge protector and when you’re not using them, flip to switch. That way, you’re not having to plug/unplug a bunch of stuff all the time. Just one easy switch. TVs, video games, and other electronics like that all use energy when turned off. It’s called “Standby” mode and it’s there for no other reason then to keep the clocks right and help your stuff turn on about 2–3 seconds faster when you hit the power button.

HOWEVER- if you use TiVo or another DVR, make sure you keep that on a separate powerstrip. I learned the hard way that it won’t tape your favorite shows if it’s unplugged (but it will if only the TV is unplugged)

mamabeverley's avatar

@jballou You are correct. I recently put all of our videogames/t.v ect. on power strips. Just for half the month my power bill dropped $40.00 It is hard to tell. I live in TN and have a heat pump. A total waste as far as I am concerned. I miss my gas heat. The house is never truly warm unless you come in from outside. And I still run my fireplace with blower insert during the winter to help keep the heat from running all day. We had some really cold weather this year. Without the fireplace, my electric bill would have been way higher than the $300.00 it was!

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Diavolicchio's avatar

I’ve done some pretty detailed calculations for a place I’m about to build here in Maine taking into account absolutely everything that uses any electricity and just how much in kWh/month. It was an informative exercise. It turns out that 28.1% of my electric bill every month will go to cover lighting, and this is using primarily CFLs to keep my lighting costs to a minimum. In monetary terms, I’ll be paying approximately $30/month of a $107/month electricity bill for lighting (765 kWh/month.)

One thing to note: The garage will often be used as a workshop and will have 36 – 4’ fluorescent tubes for lighting. I’m estimating that I’ll only have them on for about an hour a day, however this does contribute noticeably to the lighting bill.

John

Diavolicchio's avatar

@joli The fridge may be the biggest user of energy in many homes, but far from all. In my place, the fridge will be using approximately 45 kWh/month of electricity, relative to the 215 kWh/month going to lighting. It’s not a huge fridge (17.6 cu ft) however it isn’t Energy Star rated either. Total electricity bill for me should average around 765 kWh/month.

The other big culprit for me aside from lighting is the well pump (90 kWh/month) I need because I’m not on town water.

John

riacan's avatar

@8lightminutesaway.

Water does not absorb heat a lot slower than air.

In fact it absorbs heat 1.2 joules, or in layman terms 25 times faster than air.

Which is why smimming in a 13 degree C ocean will feel much colder than walking around on a 13 degree C day.

Water is a much better conductor than air.

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