Tag Archives: computers

How to Save Money on Electricity – Six Easy Tips

October 28, 2011

How to Save Money on Electricity

Looking at the electric bill at the end of the month can be quite a shock, particularly during seasons of extreme temperatures.  Luckily, if you follow these tips on how to save money on electricity, you can significantly cut that bill. Plus, by saving energy you will reduce your impact on the environment.

Turn off those lights!

Image credit: lemasney, Flickr.com

Tip #1 – Turn off the lights

It’s very easy to forget to turn off the lights, but remembering to do so can create big energy savings in the long run. If you are in a room that does not get much traffic such as the kitchen or bathroom be sure to turn off the lights whenever you leave the room. It may take some time to get used to doing this, but after awhile it will become second nature. If you are still having trouble remembering, consider installing lighting occupancy sensors. Worried that turning on and off the lights too quickly wastes electricity and wears out light bulbs? The MythBusters buststed that myth!

 Tip #2 – Check the energy savings settings on your computer and monitor

Using screen savers help save energy, right? Actually, not at all. It is much better to have your monitor automatically turn off after a certain period of time (I have mine set for 10 minutes).

You can save even more energy by letting your computer hibernate when it is inactive. Hibernation mode uses up virtually no energy and you do not have to go through the entire start-up process again. EnergyStar estimates that you can save up to $350 dollars over the life of your computer (4 years) by smartly managing the power settings on your computer.

Tip #3 – Make your dryer more efficient

When you move your clothes from the washer into the dryer, most people simply bunch them up together in a wet lump and toss those clothes into the dryer. However, if you untangle your clothes and separate them before you throw them in the dryer, they will be dried more efficiently and you will save money on electricity.

Tip #4 – Off-peak hours

Contact your electric company and see if they have off-peak hours. During off-peak hours, the cost of electricity is reduced. Electricity is generally less expensive late at night, early in the morning and on weekends, so it is cheaper to run the dishwasher and washing machines during these times. How much you will save will vary depending on your location, but here in Oregon off-peak rates are 66% less than of on-peak rates.

Every degree counts!

Image credit: Mick Wright, Flickr.com

Tips #5 – Check that thermostat 

Even a one degree change makes a big difference. Turning the thermostat down (or up during the summer) when you are out of the house will help you save money on electricity without sacrificing comfort. By following EnergyStar guidelines you can save $180 annually on your heating and cooling costs.

We hope you found these tips on how to save money on electricity helpful. You can realize big savings just by making small changes to your daily routine and habits. Are there any other methods that you use to save money on electricity?

Free Geek: e-cycling to the Nth power

December 1, 2010

Take a moment and think about that corner in your office, you know the one I’m talking about. Or maybe it’s in your basement, closet, attic, perhaps some other dark, dusty place in your home. You’ll try to ignore it, but how much more old technology is going to fit there? It’s overflowing, becoming a health hazard. Are you really ever going to use that enormous CRT monitor again? Come on, now.

Recently, I decided to tackle the corner; which is when I discovered Free Geek, a nonprofit organization that “refurbishes technology to provide computers, education and job skills in exchange for community service.”

Free Geek Portland

Photo cred. top row:Joan Stevens, bottom row:Carly Dennis

Here’s the deal with FreeGeek, they’re a multi-pronged operation where you can:

  • declutter. Drop off old electronics—computers and nearly anything that can be plugged into them.
  • volunteer. Spend some time helping out Free Geek, and get sweet stuff in return. Volunteers get free classes on building computers, tech support, and using a computer. Volunteers who have racked up a total of 24 hours or have built five computers get a free refurbished computer loaded with Ubuntu, an open source operating system.
  • donate. Non-profits in need of a technology upgrade can receive hardware grants. So far, the Portland location has granted out more than 2,800 refurbished PCs to schools, religious organizations, community centers, and the like.
  • purchase tech on the cheap. Free Geek runs a thrift shop, with all purchases directly supporting the Free Geek Community Technology Center.
  • recycle ancient tech. Outdated materials are “demanufactured” by volunteers and recycled responsibly.

Going through my corner-of-technological-shame, I came up with a full car trunk of old tech. Everything from a heavy, old-school e-mac to the coffee-pocalypse laptop, and the ever-present overflowing box of miscellaneous wires and plugs. All together, we’re talking 5 square feet of sanity returning to my little abode. Priceless.

Here in Portland, we’re lucky to have the original FreeGeek location, aka “the Mothership.” However, satellite locations are opening in urban areas around the country, and can be found at the Free Geek Intergalactic Page. Other certified e-recyclers can be found through e-stewards.org or your local government’s recycling website.

We’re all green here. We know not to dump old tech with our curbside garbage, or trust shady e-recycling programs. Appease the e-waste guilt. Recycle your electronics responsibly, if not creatively.