The costs of off-grid systems have come down over the years. However, solar power is still no small investment. But there are significant savings to be had by reducing our electric energy footprint. So, to put first things first, we’ll take a look at ways we can reduce electricity needs.
This is the sixth episode of the Going Off-Grid series. To start at the beginning, go to episode 9, Going Off-Grid – Introduction.
Show notes: http://higher-octave.com/15
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Replace Electrical Devices With More Energy Efficient Ones
One of the simplest and quickest ways to reduce electricity needs is to replace the old-style incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs with light emitting diodes (LEDs). LEDs have the following benefits:
- Maximum Light Efficiency: In the last 5 years alone, LEDs have jumped from around 60 lumens per watt (lm/W) to certain products getting close to 150 lumens per watt. (Lumens per watt is a measure of efficiency, like miles per gallon in a car.) Compare LEDs to compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) with 55-70 lumens per watt, or traditional incandescent bulbs with 13-18 lumens per watt, and the LED advantage is as bright as day. And the technology just keeps getting better and cheaper.
- Long-Lasting: They are notable for being extremely long-lasting products. Many LEDs have a rated life of up to 50,000 hours. This is approximately 50 times longer than a typical incandescent, 20-25 times longer than most halogens, and 8-10 times longer than a typical CFL. Used 12 hours a day, a 50,000 bulb will last more than 11 years. Used 8 hours a day, it will last 17 years!
- Reduced Heat Output: LED lights have the ability to turn the majority of their energy into light. While this saves electricity, it also means your LED light bulbs are emitting significantly less heat than traditional bulbs. This reduction in heat means your air conditioner won’t have to work as hard during the summer. And many LEDs don’t generate any infrared light, which is also a source of heat.
- Durable: Traditional and fluorescents bulbs are made out of fragile glass and must be handled with care. LEDs are manufactured to resist vibrations and impact damage.
- Variety: LEDs are commonly referred to as full-spectrum lighting. The bright light they produce improves our perception of our surroundings. In addition, they are available in many light configurations, including UV, infrared and plant lights. They are also available in many base types and sizes.
- No Toxic Mercury: You’ve seen the warnings on the boxes of fluorescent tubes; CONTAINS MERCURY! There is an entire protocol for what needs to be done if a fluorescent bulb is broken. LEDs contain no mercury and are overall more durable than fluorescent tubes.
To start replacing your old lights with LEDs, you can get a cheap 12-pack -> HERE.
I also use LED plant lights. I’ve done a lot of experimenting with them and some of the features I look for are:
- A very thin profile to economize my plant shelf space.
- No fans. Even “quiet” fans can be a distraction.
- LEDs that are spread over a broad area to more evenly distribute the light.
- Though infrared does not directly help with photosynthesis, the extra warmth does seem to help with seed germination.
- Finally, plant LEDs MUST include UV. Again, this has nothing to do with photosynthesis, but it does provide protection against white mold and other fungus and bacteria.
The KINGBO 45W LED Grow Light meets all of these criteria and it is reasonably priced. Check it out.
The EPA’s ENERGY STAR Program was created to help identify the best ways to save energy. The little blue label is an indication that a particular appliance is designed to reduce electricity needs.
Although a highly efficient EnergyStar appliance may cost more upfront, its reduced power consumption means lower costs for building your off-grid system.
However, the Energy Star Program does not identify which appliances are the most efficient, only that they are efficient. To compare the efficiencies of appliances, we don’t just look for the blue label, but the yellow EnergyGuide label.
So, compare the EnergyGuide labels to determine the most efficient appliances for your home.
Here is a list of the major Energy Star rated appliances we have installed:
- On-Demand (tankless) Water Heater – covered in detail in next episode
- Washer & Dryer
- Chest Freezer
- Air Conditioner
We have other Energy Star appliances, but those are the big ones. I haven’t included the specific models because there are more current models available.
We will continue the current topic, so our next episode will be Reduce Electric Consumption 2.
Thanx for listening!
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And, as always, be well.