With the unfortunate fire at the Colorado Springs Martin Drake Power Plant, Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) is faced with an abrupt loss of base load electric power. This could easily last into the summer air conditioning season with its peak load. Now is a GREAT time for all CSU customers to take steps towards using less electricity. Indeed, it is a good time for all of us to do so.
Here are just a few of the things you can do to help.
A great place to start is by going to CSU’s website and taking a look at its Average Comparison Tool. This will show how your electrical usage compares to other customers. https://www.csu.org/Pages/average-comparison.aspx
If you have not yet swapped out your incandescent light bulbs for compact florescent lights (CFLs), what are you waiting for? CSU customers can even get instant rebates at local stores – https://www.csu.org/pages/lighting.aspx. If you have been holding off because you don’t like the light quality or slow start of CFLs, you should check out the growing options for LED bulbs. Although they still cost more than the old bulbs, the price is coming down quickly, they last longer and use 10% of the energy of incandescents to produce what many think is a superior light.
If you need help figuring out what to do first, get your hands on a kill-a-watt meter. These are available at local stores and on Amazon to purchase. They can also be borrowed for free from Pikes Peak Libraries (https://www.csu.org/Pages/Kill-A-Watt-meters.aspx) and as part of a home energy kit from county extension offices (http://www.ext.colostate.edu/energy/heal/).
Plug your appliances into a kill-a-watt meter and it will show the watts used and record the kilowatt-hours used over time. A real eye-opener is to plug in your entertainment system components when they are “off”. It is not uncommon to find them drawing 20 W or more in the off state. A simple power strip will enable you to turn them off completely and save this “phantom load”.
Often your refrigerator is the biggest electricity load in the house. Since it runs intermittently, you need to plug it into the kill-a-watt meter and run it for a day. Particularly if the frig is old or not Energy Star certified, you will likely be able to save a lot of energy with an upgrade. Perhaps you did upgrade, but put the old one in the garage for the occasional party. You might find that it is costing you more than you realized.
For MANY MORE tips on reducing your electricity use, see Colorado Springs Utilities’ website https://www.csu.org/pages/tips.aspx for tips for residential customers and here https://www.csu.org/Pages/bizrebates.aspx for energy efficiency rebates for business customers.
Colorado State University Extension also offers a lot of GREAT INFORMATION on energy use and efficiency http://www.ext.colostate.edu/energy/home.html.