Old fridge, an energy hog

How much could I save by buying a new refrigerator?  How long would it take for the new fridge to pay for itself in energy savings?  This is the question I am trying to answer.

My old fridge is an early 90s GE top-freezer model, which still runs well two decades later.  However, the energy efficiency of refrigerators has improved dramatically between then and now.  In shopping around, I found this similar fridge at Best Buy for $602.99.  It’s a real no-frills model,  but it’s energy star rated, and it’s among the cheapest.  The interesting thing I noticed is that it it consumes only 311 kw/h per year.  That’s the claim on the “specifications” page, anyway.  In my electricity market, that would cost about  $4.50 per month to run–a pittance for an appliance notorious for gobbling energy.

How much electricity does my current refrigerator use?  Well, it draws 6.5 amps while running, so 6.5 x 115V = 747.5 watts.  If I assume it runs 10 out of 24 hours in the day (which I feel is probably a conservative estimate), it consumes about 7.5 kw/h worth of electricity per day, or 225 per month.  Remember now, the new model fridge consumes 311 kw/h for the entire year!  So how much is my old fridge costing me?  About $36 per month, which is eight times what the new fridge would cost.

If I buy the new refrigerator, how much money would I save in the first year?  $378.  How long would it take for the new fridge to pay for itself?  About 19 months.  Beyond that, I’d be reaping the savings month after month.  After five years, I’ll be better off to the tune of $1,287 with the new refrigerator.

This comparison demonstrates how dramatic the difference is in energy efficiency between old and new appliances.  If you have an older model refrigerator, you may want to give serious thought to replacing it, whether or not it’s still cooling your food effectively.

Saving On Cheez-Its

I paid only 60 cents for a box of Cheez-Its at the grocery store today, which normally retails for close to 3 dollars.  In fact, I got fantastic deals on a number of products.  How?  Well, I’ve just started to dip my toe in the world of couponing and extreme savings.  Have you ever seen one of those news stories about a person who gets $100 worth of groceries for only a few bucks?  Well, groceries are the third largest monthly item on my household budget, and I’d save a bundle if I could learn how to score these extreme savings, too.

I’m just beginning to learn how to do it. Frankly, saving 50% or more on grocery shopping seemed impossible to me for the longest time. But now, after researching, I am figuring it out.  As I learn, I will post to this blog about couponing secrets.  Please check back to read all about it!

Monthly challenge: reduce electricity bill

Imagine reducing your electricity bill by $80 a month.  That would put nearly $1,000 in your pocket each year.  You might put it toward a vacation, kid’s college tuition, or a rainy day fund.  But is it achievable?  Well, of course, it depends on your situation and how much electricity you currently use.  If your electricity bill is already low, I bet you can still find savings that add up.

You are billed based on how many kilowatt/hours of electricity you use in a given month.  A single kilowatt/hour is an hour’s worth of consuming 1,000 watts.  Current electricity prices range from 9 to 12 cents per kilowatt/hour, plus a delivery charge that adds another 5 or 6 cents.

The average US home used 908 kilowatt/hours of electricity per month in 2009, according to eia.gov.  This costs about $145 per month–more for larger homes.  The numbers are generally lower in the North, and higher in the South (due to the increased need for air conditioning).  The good news: there is a lot of low-hanging fruit when it comes to lowering the bill.

Home Appliances

Understanding the electricity consumption of your home appliances is the most important part of reducing your electricity bill.  You should become aware of the demands each device imposes.  This may be easy: the wattage may be explicitly stated.  You’ll have to do a little math if amps are listed instead: amps x volts = wattage.  The standard US electric socket provides 115 volts.  So, an appliance drawing 4.5 amps uses 4.5 x 115 = 517.5 watts.  That’s about half a kilowatt/hour, if run for an hour, or roughly 8 cents.

If you have neither the wattage nor the amps, try googling (binging?) the model number printed on the device.  Usually you’ll be able to find the information that way.  Another option is to get a meter, such as the Belkin Conserve Insight, which shows power consumption and cost to run any plug-in device.

There are some appliances (such as toasters, microwaves) which draw quite a high wattage when in use, but are only on infrequently.  These are not of too much concern.  Other devices draw lower wattage but are on all day.  This are of medium concern.  Then there are those which draw high wattage and are on for long periods of time.  These are of highest concern.

Utility Deregulation

If you live in a deregulated state with competing electricity providers, shopping around will likely take 10% off your electricity cost straight away.  Your utility’s default supply is usually not the best deal.  A number of electricity provider comparison sites have sprung up.  Take a look at saveonenergy.com, for example.  If you don’t have the ability to shop around in your state, you are out of luck on this.

More to Come

In future posts, I will share my personal experiences trying to reduce my electricity cost as much as possible.  Check back to this blog to learn what worked for me, so that you can gain similar results in your own home!

A blog about saving money

Hey there!  I’d like to share with you my experiences in lower-cost living.  In this tough economy there is much talk of “belt tightening”.  But who wants to make significant sacrifices to their lifestyle?  Not I.  So I set out to find hidden cost savings without going austere.  And it turns out there is a lot of money we spend every month for no reason at all.

Saving money has become my new hobby.  If you’d like to save money, too, I think you have to make a hobby out of it.  Or, you could see it as a game.  You win when you reduce your monthly costs.  Unlike most games, your prize has real value: more cash in your pocket.

I’m going to use this blog to document my efforts and share the results.  Hopefully it will be of interest to others.  Take care!