As a contractor, I can't help it, but when I walk into a home, I...
How To Cut Down Your Electricity Bill
By Mike Holmes
Wednesday, August 1st, 2018 @ 9:39am
If you have watched any of my shows, you know I love technology. I always say it, as more homeowners start to adopt the newest technology into their homes, the price of that technology starts to decrease until it becomes affordable to all homeowners. You may not remember, but it was many years ago that something as common as an air conditioning unit was a luxury that only a few could afford.
In time, living in comfort started to become common. In 1993, 68% of households across the US had A/C units installed. That number rose to 87% in 2009 according to the Residential Energy Consumption Survey. Today it sits at around 97% in the Southern United States according to CBS Minnesota.
But while the cost to own one of these machines has become affordable to everyday homeowners, the price to operate one has risen consistently over the years. With electricity bills continually rising it’s no wonder millions of North Americans are trading their comfort for cost savings. And it’s a comment I hear often.
I talk to fans every day who are cutting down on their A/C use in an attempt to curb the out of control electricity bills. Many only dare to turn on their A/C when the weather gets too unbearable or they are starting to feel the dangerous effects of heat. Seniors often place themselves at risk because they fear an outrageous electric bill. Even though the hardware has become affordable to many, the cost to operate these units has not.
The high cost of your electricity bill is closely tied to the amount of energy your A/C unit uses in an average day. In many households the air conditioner usage can account for 60% of their total energy bill. In America, cooling systems account for 6% of ALL the electricity used in the country. This has a serious impact on local and state level power decisions. Many power providers offer incentives to not run your unit during peak hours, or they place power regulators on A/C units. So what are your options? While there are many ways to cut down on your cooling cost, two of the most effective technologies are smart thermostats and compressor controllers. These two technologies are having the biggest impact on electric bills, allowing people to take back control of their comfort.
Smart Technology and Smart thermostats
Smart thermostats, like Ecobee and Google’s Nest are taking North America by storm. They allow people to remotely control their home’s temperature via tablet, PC, or smart phone. Through an online interface, users control the climate, view energy consumption in real-time, and set their A/C to turn off every time they leave the house. I have the Eaton Home Automation Hub which allows me to remotely control my indoor temperature through an app. I love it and it’s great for energy management. Smart thermostats could save 7 – 10% off your air conditioning costs, which can really add up over time. But what about those times when you’re home and can’t stand the heat? This is where compressor controllers come in.
Think about how your air conditioning unit works. Typically, the temperature in your house will rise until it hits the maximum temperature allowed by the thermostat. The thermostat will then ask the compressor to run until the minimum temperature is achieved. When the A/C compressor first starts up, conditions are at their most efficient. As time goes on, however, the compressor continues to provide cooling but uses twice as much energy to achieve the same level of cooling as it did when it first started. This means that the harder your compressor works the more inefficient it becomes.
Compressor controllers, like Ecohome, are designed to maximize the efficiency of the A/C unit by limiting the compressor use when these unfavorable conditions arise. Installed between your current thermostat and A/C unit, they intercept commands from your thermostat and actively monitor and analyze the conditions of your A/C system. It uses the information it gathers to dynamically adjust the length of each cooling cycle in order to help the compressor operate under its most energy efficient conditions. Smart, right?
These small little changes in compressor run time can have a big impact on your electricity bill because it helps to avoid energy spikes and inefficient run times. It’s a little bit like the cruise control in your car.
The Ecohome has been shown to generate up to 40% savings, depending upon your system’s capacity and state of repair. But remember, smart thermostats and the Ecohome are most efficient if your A/C unit is properly sized for your home and in good running order. It’s wise to have your A/C system serviced regularly to ensure it’s in good working order.
What Works Best
So should you get a smart thermostat, or a compressor controller? Think about your needs. What works for one person might not work for the next.
If you’re like me and away from the home for most of the day, then a smart thermostat might be your best option. You can set it to come on an hour before you arrive home or keep it off should you end up staying out later than you anticipated.
If you spend most of your day indoors then comfort is important and you should probably look at a compressor controller like Ecohome. You can run your A/C throughout the day knowing that your compressor is running more efficiently, saving you money on those long hot days.
Both smart thermostats and compressor controllers are great ways to save on your electricity bills. They aren’t mutually exclusive, either. They can be used in tandem, allowing you to take advantage of savings whether you’re home or out. I use both in my home and it feels great to not only save a bundle each month but at the same time reduce my carbon emissions, so I’m being good to my wallet and the planet – which I love.