Conservation tips for a lower electricity bill

The Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) is encouraging consumers to practise electricity conservation in order to lower their power bills. Aside from utilising natural resources like natural light, natural air circulation, and turning off or unplugging devices/appliances not being used, the JPS said there's more that can be done to conserve electricity.

For example, data from JPS show that surround sound audio systems can use more than $3,000 in electricity if never turned off; a subwoofer will add another $1,000 if left on.

Similarly, desktop computers and laptops left on all the time will use over $2,000 in electricity. According to JPS “If you enable the automatic sleep mode, you can cut that down per month and even more if each day you save and shut down.”

Consumers are also being urged to pay closer attention to the flat-screen TVs in their homes.

“The older cathode-ray tube TVs typically use less than 100 watts (W) – about the same as a light bulb. Today's TVs, on the other hand: LCD TVs – the wattage varies by model size: 32-40 inch models average 141 W, 41-50 inches use 185 W, and the average LCD model larger than 50 inches draws over 200 W. LED TVs – these use slightly less power than LCD screens of the same size,” JPS highlighted.

“Plasma TVs – Plasma models without an Energy Star label were historically the highest energy consumers among the flat screen TVs averaging 298 W for 41-50 inch models, and 364 W for the 51-60 inch models. Newer plasma TVs offer energy efficiency levels close to those of the other screen types,” The light and power company advised.

With regards to lighting, consumers should consider turning off lights and appliances that are not being used as well as start using LED bulbs.

“LEDs use 75 per cent less energy than incandescent lighting. Use one large wattage lamp instead of several small ones in areas where bright light is needed. Install photoelectric lighting controls for external or security lighting. They automatically turn on lights at nights, and off at daybreak.”

In the kitchen, if you cook with electricity, it is recommended that you turn off the burners on your stove a few minutes before the allotted cooking time. Electric stoves use a lot of energy: Maximise the use of your electric stove by cooking or baking several dishes at the same time.

Other tips for kitchen appliances include:

-Use a microwave or pressure cooker to reduce cooking times.

-Match the cooking pot with the size of your burner.

-Turn down the burner when water reaches a boiling point.

-Never boil water in an open pan.

-Keep doors of refrigerators closed and don't open unnecessarily.

-Do not allow ice to build up in the freezer.

-Don't keep your refrigerator or freezer too cold: 38 or 40 degrees is recommended for the fresh food compartment.

In terms of air-conditioning units & fans, “AC should only be used when necessary – use natural ventilation by opening windows on cooler days. If you don't need central air-conditioning, consider using fans,” JPS outlined.

“Don't set your air conditioning unit thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn your air conditioner on and don't place lamps or television sets near your air conditioning thermostat. Heat from other appliances could cause the air conditioner to work harder and longer than necessary. Turn off window air conditioners when you leave a room for several hours. Reduce your A/C costs and keep your home comfortable by using inexpensive, energy-efficient ceiling fans to circulate the air. This will allow you to have your AC on less and still feel cool.”

Consumers are also encouraged to turn off ceiling fans when they leave the room. A fan that runs all the time costs about $1,800 a month.

When buying a fan, choose the right size for the room. For example:

10′ x 10′ room or smaller = 36″ fan

15′ x 20′ room = 52″ fan

Rooms larger than 15′ x 20′ = two 52″ fans

BY ANDREW LAIDLEY Senior business reporter

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