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The Most Renewable of all Energies

Action 1
Action 2
Action 3
Action 4
Action 5
Results

The energy which is the most renewable of all is.... the energy you SAVE! With some simple measures I have reduced my electricity bill by hundreds of kWh (KiloWattHours) equalling a total of some two hundred guilders each year (approx $100). This saves the environment, my wallet and - last but not least - this power is not needed to be generated with RE, so it also saves investment in my HomePower installation. (I only want to reduce my net electricity consumption to zero, but if you're independent, then you MUST generate the power you consume)

Action 1

Power Meter Picture - The first measure I took was: buy a cheap power meter. This one costs 60 guilders, or $30. This allows you to take a measurement of every appliance in the house. I got two results from that:
(1) I knew how much power I need to generate with my RE installation.
(2) Some appliances surprised me with a disproportional consumption, which I could try to tackle. I will describe that below. I checked every appliance that has its transformer or power supply connected to the grid 24 hours/day, to find the tiny bits that add up to a significant bill every month.

Action 2

TV, VCR, and DVD - Switch off TV, VCR and Audio. Simply use the power switch instead of leaving the tv or hifi in standby mode. I installed a simple 230 volt switch on the VCR, because a VCR usually has no power switch. I had to split the antenna signal to feed the TV set directly, so the VCR only needs to be powered when we actually use it or when it is programmed for recording.

Action 3

Lamps - Replace incandescent lamps with fluorescent tubes. I had to modify two lamps, some mechanical engineering because most 'folded tubes' are still a little longer than bulbs. I enjoy the 7 watt PL-S tubes every day, giving more light than the 40 watt bulbs they replaced. The saving seems limited, but becomes impressive when I tell you this equals at least 2 solar panels at my latitude!

Action 4

Connect the dish-washer to hot water (max 65 Celcius) so it doesn't heat the cold water with electricity. This doesn't make sense when you have an electric boiler, but with a heater that burns gas or even better: solar collectors, you will save energy.

Action 5

Solar Scanner Radio - Well... don't use fossile power when you don't need it. If you take this radio: it operates from its internal battery, re-charged by the sun. (It is not one of my projects, because I bought it as-is).

Results

Together with the other savings and some small adjustments to habits (children now turn off the light when leaving the bedroom...usually) this means using around 700 kWh less each year. I could have equally lowered my bill by installing 10 solar panels, but I know which is easier and cheaper - Yes, I am Dutch.

All of these are simple actions, due to the awareness that I built up. Still there are savings possible that I did not yet take action on. It should be a long-term program as well, for example replace that old fridge with an energy-efficient one when either the old wreck collapses OR when you know that this will save money. Measure, and you know! Each of you can afford a power meter and it takes just a few minutes to check the power leak of a device, so you can calculate the earnings when replacing it. By calculating the total power you also know how much you have to cut back before becoming self-supporting at a limited budget. By the way: I do not intend to go off-grid, because the Dutch grid is too good to disconnect. I simply will use it to store my day-time solar energy in and withdraw it at night. Your situation could be quite different to mine, though, so you should make up your own mind about batteries or grid-intertion.