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Easy Ways to Stop Wasting Energy

Today’s Wastage is Tomorrow’s Shortage. This slogan is very applicable to our current situation in Trinidad and Tobago. It was recently reported that Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte said that a 15% reduction in customers’ usage could save the country $100M in 3 years. With a few simple behavioral changes and the implementation of energy efficient products and systems, this target is achievable.

Our culture of wasting energy in T&T is attributable to the low cost of electricity and people’s lack of readiness for change because they are uninformed, under-informed or not incentivised. Stimuli for change may be financial benefits, environmental impacts, or social benefits. In subsequent articles, I will comment on incentives for change and share what other countries are doing. Today, however, I will look at two simple changes (quick-wins) that can significantly reduce power usage and cost.

Recently, a colleague did an LED update in his home. All his lights were replaced by LEDs. For instance, 60W chandelier bulbs were replaced by 6W LED ones (90% Power savings), 18W florescent tubes with 9W LED tubes (50% power savings) and 23W CFLs with 14W LED bulbs (40% power savings). His subsequent electric bill went from $2,100.00 to $1,500.00, a $600.00 savings (almost 30%).

His total cost of LED bulbs was approximately $2,000.00; therefore, based on savings alone, he would recover his cost within 7 months with direct cash savings thereafter. In the 1st year of this upgrade, he is expected to save $1,600.00 and in subsequent years, he is expected to save $3,600.00 annually, provided electric rates remain the same.

In the table below, a simple comparison is used to demonstrate the cost impact of electricity for the diverse types of 100W equivalent light bulbs used in homes, using the 3 tiers of residential rates:

Bulb Types Incandescent CFL LED
Power Used 100W 23W 14W
Tiered Rates per KWH – Annual Cost Tier 1 ($0.26) $113.88 $26.19 $15.94
Tier 2 ($0.32) $140.16 $32.24 $19.62
Tier 3 ($0.37) $162.06 $37.28 $22.69

 

Using the highest tier rate, in one year, 10 incandescent bulbs will cost $1,620.60 while 10 LED bulbs will cost $226.90. Individually, bulbs are not high-power users, however, due to their quantity and hours of usage, they account for a high electric consumption; thus, the cost quickly increases with multiple bulbs.

LED bulbs use 40% less power than CFL bulbs and 86% less power than incandescent bulbs, therefore, the cost savings could be substantial using LEDs.

Additionally, by turning off unnecessary lights, less power is used, thus, further reducing the electric bill.

To put this into perspective, the utility bill of a small home using incandescent bulbs could be higher than that of a medium-sized home using LED bulbs and energy efficient appliances and behaviours.

As demonstrated, a relatively simple and cost-effective change can drastically reduce energy usage, as well as, provide significant cost-savings for the average consumer.

In the next article, energy efficient lighting systems and behavioral changes required for energy conservation will continue.