Truly Smart Ways to Save Energy and Money!

The name "smart meter" was just a name given to transmitting utility meters (a.k.a. AMR, AMI, CRT meters) by public relations people to improve acceptance.

Utilities really like them because they allow utilities to bill different rates at different times of the day. Utilities are hoping that by using smart meters they can flatten the energy use peak and avoid very costly infrastructure upgrades, as well as eliminate the personnel costs associated with meter readers. The variable rates and data mining made possible by "smart" meters may also generate a lot of new revenue.

Smart meters are being promoted by environmental groups because smart meters have been sold to environmental groups as a way to raise people's awareness of energy usage and motivate them to save energy . (In fact, a pilot study in Connecticut showed no lasting energy saving behavior was established .)

The fact that transmitting meters are hazardous to health, consume energy, cause fires, etc. is being ignored by their promoters. (See transmitting utility meter page and www.stopsmartmeters.org)

However, there are truly SMART ways that we can all SAVE energy and MONEY and lower the peak. We can do it without endangering the public health, causing fires, consuming additional energy, etc.

You can save money and protect our health by taking some relatively simple steps everyone should be able to embrace. Doing more with less is a great American tradition with roots in colonial and pioneering days.

Below are a list of easy short-term money saving tips that also save energy and lower the peak:

  • Turn things off when not in use or not needed.

  • Use non-dimmable LED lightbulbs, not CFLs - both dimmable LEDs and CFLs produce large amounts of electrical pollution. LED lights use 97 percent less electricity than regular lightbulbs, CFLs only use 75 percent less http://www.dolevltd.co.il/UserFiles/File/True%20Cost%20of%20Low%20Energy%20Lighting.pdf and they are often highly electrically polluting. (See CFL and LED Lightbulbs for more information about the dangers of CFL lightbulbs which include dirty electricity, radiated rf, and mercury.)

  • Do not leave the box end of cellphone chargers (or other chargers) plugged in when not in use. They continue to draw power the whole time that they are plugged in, an expensive waste. They also generate electrical pollution and large electromagnetic fields and should, therefore, be plugged in away from people.

  • Daylight. Use natural light whenever possible. To facilitate this, use window coverings/curtains that can be pulled back to allow light in or do not block light. Use light paint colors on walls. Paint the ceiling white. (Normally, over time, your eyes will adjust to the sometimes slightly lower levels of natural light.)

  • Heat or air condition efficiently. Generally, heating to 65 degrees F and cooling to 75 degrees F should be sufficient for comfort with the use of seasonally appropriate clothing (sweaters and long-underware in winter, shorts and shirt-sleeves in summer). Keeping seasonal temperatures and dressing appropriately for the seasons has the added benefit of allowing your body to acclimate better to ambient outdoor temperatures so you are less tied to controlled environments and can better enjoy the outdoors.

    [I have found duo-fold wool/cotton long-underware to be the best in terms of warmth, comfort, and not causing static. I find the man-made materials to be very static-ee.]

  • Allow the house to cool/warm while you are away.
    • Programmable thermostats allow you to let the house cool or warm while you are away and bring the house back to the desired temperature before you return. Be sure to use one that does not transmit.
    • Allow the house to cool while you are asleep and warm just before waking. This can save substantial energy and gives you the health benefit of a cooler sleeping environment.

  • Use your air conditioning efficiently. Follow these instructions to substantially reduce your air-conditioning bill while still maintaining a comfortable living environment.

      A good thermostatically controlled whole house fan used to expel warm air and bring in cool air at night can almost eliminate the need for air conditioning in many areas. This is especially true in well-insulated homes with good attic air circulation. Closing the windows during the day will retain cool air, especially on lower floors. Think of cool air as water and the house as a bucket. You would not poke a hole in the bottom of the bucket and expect water to stay in.

      Often the air remains cool enough throughout the day that air-conditioning is unnecessary. The house can be opened up again in evening as the air cools sufficiently. If it is a heat wave and cooling does not take place outside, this approach still allows you to wait until evening to run the air-conditioning. The air-conditioning is substantially more efficient when outside temperatures are cool, allowing you far better cooling for substantially less money.

The following energy and money saving tips require a bit more long-term planning, but are still very useful:

  • Plant deciduous trees to block the sun on southern, eastern, and western exposures to shade the house from the hot summer sun, but allow warming winter sun exposures.

  • Decide whether heating or cooling is more of an issue where you live, then choose roof and exterior colors accordingly. Proper exterior color choices can make a HUGE difference in your heating and cooling expenses. In southern areas, where cooling consumes the most energy and therefore money, use white and very light exteriors to reflect as much heat as possible. In northern climates, plant deciduous trees for summer sun protection. Strategic use of darker colors and deciduous trees can facilitate passive solar heating in the winter. (See http://www.thermoguy.com/urbanheat.html website with details on how big a difference color choice can make. Although the author is right that fossil fuel use is far from the only source of climate change energy, the increased carbon dioxide levels that result from fossil fuel use are causing serious problems for marine life, please see http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/351072/description/Oysters_may_struggle_to_build_shells_as_carbon_dioxide_rises and http://ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/critical-issues-ocean-acidification/).

  • Insulate! Insulate! Insulate! Insulation keeps heat out and cool in or cool out and heat in, so it is beneficial almost everywhere.

  • Ventilate! Proper roof ventilation prevents heat from being trapped under the roof and heating up the building. However, please see http://www.thermoguy.com/urbanheat.html website for a graphic illustration of why it is important to pick the right color roof for your climate in addition to ventilating it.

  • Lay out your home carefully - do not put heaters next to coolers. Both will have to work harder. For example, do not put a refrigerator by a heat duct.

  • Plan activities with the weather in mind e.g. don't bake on really hot days or at least wait until evening when you can open the windows and take advantage of cool evening air instead of having to run the air conditioning to "fight" the heat your oven puts out.

  • Let thermodynamics work FOR you:
    • Heat or cool the core of the house. Let the edges be a bit cooler/warmer than the core. You will lose less energy/money through your walls. The temperature difference (and insulation) determines the heat transfer so heat/cold right on the outside wall maximizes the temperature difference and maximizes the energy/money lost.

    • Put freezers and refrigerators in cool/cold environments.

    Please see the Solutions page for steps to take to make as healthy and low-rf an environment within your home as possible.

    Want to go off-grid to avoid a transmitting utility meter or get off fossil fuels? See Going Off-Grid Safely for information about rf and off-grid systems.