Christmas has come and gone, and it’s now the start of a new year. What’s that mean for you? Quitting a habit, like biting your fingernails or finishing other people’s sentences? What about reducing your energy consumption, thus reducing your electric bill? While we support the other goals, reducing your energy consumption sounds a little better. Below are some things that will help you reduce your energy costs in 2014.
Occupancy/Vacancy Sensors: One of the easiest ways to reduce your energy consumption is to turn the lights off when you’re not in a room. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, it’s pretty common to accidentally leave the lights on when you leave a room, and I’m guilty of that from time to time, too. Thankfully, there are occupancy and vacancy sensors that control the lights for you. These sensors eliminate the possibility of leaving the lights on by detecting body heat. When the unit detects body heat, it flips the lights on, and when it doesn’t detect body heat, the lights go off. Ranging in coverage areas from 450 to 2,000 square feet, occupancy and vacancy sensors are ideal for nearly every room in your home.
Dimmers: Not only do dimmer switches allow you to control the amount of light your bulbs are producing, but they also extend your bulbs’ life by reducing the amount of voltage going to your bulbs. So instead of 120 volts, your bulb receives, say, 80 volts. Dimmer switches don’t only come in switches. Other kinds of dimmers include rotary dimmers, toggle type dimmers, and slide dimmers. Look at the different styles for yourself, and see which type best suits you and your tastes.
Photo Controls: It’s time to move on to outdoor lighting controls. Photo controls, also known as photocells, are an excellent tool for controlling your outdoor floodlights, garden lights, and just about anything you can think of. The same principle applies with outdoor lighting as indoor lighting: there’s always a risk of leaving something on, like the floodlights over your garage. Photocells eliminate this risk by using the sun to turn your lights on and off. When there’s a lack of sunlight, the device switches your lights on by increasing the voltage little by little (CFLs won’t work with photo controls as they need that instant pulse of electricity to turn on, not the gradual increase offered by photocells), and when the sun starts to creep up in the mornings, the photocell turns your lights off. There are even some photocells that can tell the difference between headlights and the sun.
Timers: Timers give a whole new meaning to the word “convenient.” While it’s probably too cold to catch a few rays poolside, pool season will be here before you know it. With that in mind, having a pool and spa timer controlling your pumps and vacuums makes things a whole lot simpler. While energy conservation is a hot topic, water conservation is just as hot. Look into getting a sprinkler and irrigation timer to ensure you don’t over-water your plants and you conserve precious water resources. While these timers vary greatly in their features, many have the ability to water every other day, and include a shutoff switch on rainy days without losing your settings.
*The occupancy/vacancy sensors, dimmer switches, and photo controls work best with incandescent bulbs. If you use LEDs or fluorescents, ensure your equipment is compatible with your bulbs beforehand.