Another summer and another energy price hike. It seems like an unstoppable pattern, made worse this year by the devastation wrought in the energy producing Gulf states but by Hurricanes Rita and Katrina.
According to Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), natural gas prices have shot up over 23% during the last year, and that's after adjusting for a 31% downturn last month.
Luckily, there are things you can do to cut back on your energy bills. For example, did you know that new lighting technologies can reduce your lighting energy expense by 50-75%? The Leviton Institute recommends you try some of the simple, inexpensive changes listed below. They can pit you on the path toward lower energy bills, as well as helping the environment.
1. Use compact fluorescent bulbs in place of incandescent bulbs whenever possible. They consume 2/3 less energy that incandescent lights, last 10 times longer, and generate 70 percent less heat. And most fit in standard-size sockets, making replacement a breeze.
2. Install dimmer switches and you will save money and create atmosphere at the same time. For example, dim a room by 50% and you will use 40% less electricity, plus extend the life of the bulb around 20 times. Try setting different light levels in the same room to create your own custom lighting scene. Get "in the mood" to listen to music, watch a movie in your home theatre, or sit down to a festive meal in your dining room, with custom-tailored lighting to perfectly fit each occasion.
3. Replace old light switches with occupancy sensors whenever possible. These turn the lights on when someone enters the area, and then off again after a set time when they leave. Install them in hallways, laundry rooms, basements, garages, or any place where a light may be left on accidentally while the room is unoccupied or when hands-free operation is a factor. They are especially useful in homes with seniors or disabled people who might get disoriented or have trouble seeing at night.
4. Install motion detectors on walkways and near buildings outdoors. The sense when someone walks near them and automatically turns on floodlights to light the way safely at night. They also help protect against burglars, who usually prefer working without a spotlight.
5. Install wall-mounted digital timers in place of regular switches in rooms with heat lamps, exhaust fans and other items that may get left on accidentally. They can also be set to automatically turn on lights or pool filter.
6. With the price of electricity as high as it is, you don't want to keep your lights on any longer than you have to. Night lights are a great way to add convenience lighting to your home for just pennies a day. Available in a multitude of different styles, they are inexpensive to purchase and operate and can be used anywhere in your home. They radiate a comforting glow in bedrooms, bathrooms, and hallways or any other area of your home where convenience lighting is needed after dark.
7. Last but not least, switch off lights when you're leaving a room. A very effective technique, this requires no installation other than a string around your finger to remember!