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Energy Vampires Wreak Havoc with Electric Bills

Dec. 26, 2007 — With V.I. Water and Power Authority electricity prices up sharply to 34 cents per kilowatt hour, it pays to turn off appliances of all sorts when not in use. Even small savings in electrical usage add up over time. It's kind of like watching the pennies so the dollars take care of themselves.
While everybody knows to flip the lights off when leaving a room, those always-on standby-mode lights on your television, computers and other appliances are also costing money to run.
V.I. Energy Office spokesman Don Buchanan called them vampires.
"Every house has about 10 to 50 of these vampires," he said.
There is a solution: Install power strips with off-on switches. And remember to turn them off when you're not using the appliance or equipment.
Buchanan said that a cable television box in stand-by mode draws five to 25 watts of power an hour. To calculate what it costs, figure that the average family has the TV on four hours a night so it would be on standby for 20. Using the low-end figure of 5 watts, keeping the cable TV box on standby mode will cost about $12 a year.
The TV uses one to 25 watts on standby, while a DVD player uses one to 12 watts, and an audio system uses two to 30 watts.
Since every appliance is different, there are no hard and fast figures available, but to figure out what your appliances cost you multiply the watts it draws times how long it's on per day. Divide that figure by 1,000 to come up with the kilowatts. Multiply the number of kilowatts by the 34 cents WAPA charges per kilowatt hour.
The number of watts an appliance draws is usually listed somewhere on the appliance.
Here's an example. If your ceiling fan draws 65 watts — and that's the low end of a scale that tops out at 175 watts — and you run it for 16 hours a day, it will cost you cost you about 35 cents a day to operate. Doesn't sound like much, but if you run it year round, that's $129 a year.
According to the U.S. Energy Department's website, a clothes dryer uses 1,800 watts to 5,000 watts, a hair dryer pulls 1,200 to 1,875 watts, an iron uses 1,000 to 1,800 watts, a 16 cubic-foot frost-free refrigerator pulls 725 watts, a 27-inch TV draws 113 watts, and a 40-gallon water heater uses 4,500 to 5,500 watts.
And when buying appliances, look for the yellow Energy Star label. Those appliances are certified by the Energy Department to be energy misers.
Compact fluorescent light bulbs are another way to save energy. WAPA recently had free exchanges of old-style incandescent light bulbs for three compact fluorescents.
According to the WAPA website, compact fluorescents use 66 percent less energy than incandescent. Although that giveaway is over, they're readily available at local home centers and hardware stores. And the price on compact fluorescents has dropped substantially since they first became easily available more than a decade ago.
The local Energy Office also offers rebates on items such as solar hot water systems that will save the 4,500 to 5,500 watts the electric hot water heater draws. It takes a few years to recoup your investment, but the savings add up.
WAPA's website is also filled with tips to save energy. Some are as simple as adjusting the temperature on your refrigerator, washing clothes in cold water, reducing hot water settings to 115 degrees, and fixing leaking faucets because a drip a second from the hot water tap can waste up to 48 gallons of hot water a week.
Visit WAPA website to see all the tips.
Buchanan said that saving energy is now a necessity in light of global warming as well as national security issues associated with the economics of energy consumption.
"It's one of the most important issues in the world," he said.
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