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Home » Eco-Friendly Savings

How I Cut my Electric Bill by 22% with a $30 Device

Last updated by on April 19, 2016

In late January, I ran an electricity cost experiment where I tested every plugged-in appliance in my home to see what kind of standby power they were using.

The obvious goal was to raise self awareness around wasteful and unnecessary electricity costs and then taking action to reduce costs and my carbon footprint.

The biggest of the changes I implemented included:

  • leaving my printer, blender, and a laptop unplugged except when being used
  • enabling a 5-minute sleep mode on my desktop computer/monitor
  • reconfiguring my Blu-ray player so that I could leave it off and no longer running other media through it

February 9 – March 12 was the first full month I had implemented the changes I learned from my electricity cost experiment. And the official metered results are in.

The Results?

I used 7.78 kWh/day this February vs. 10.0 kWh/day last February.

That’s a 22% drop!

Major variables vs. the same month last year were consistent:

  1. no trips taken that would have resulted in lower energy use this winter.
  2. no new higher efficiency appliances to replace inefficient ones.
  3. weather doesn’t impact my electricity bill in the winter, when I’m not running air conditioning or a fan.

So most, if not all, of the savings are likely due to the changes made.

The Positive ROI and Environmental Impact

cut electric billThe $30 Belkin energy monitor device I used to run the experiment will pay itself off in about 4 months. Every month after is positive ROI. Update: the Belkin is no longer available, but the Kill-a-Watt energy monitor is highly rated and recommended.

I’ve also started sharing the device with family members so that they can realize cost savings. Friends are next. Then I will sell it for almost what I bought it for and someone else can continue the cycle.

Think of the environmental impact! If say 10 households do the same as I have, I will have, in-effect, vicariously cut the entire carbon footprint of my household multiple times over!

The Electricity Use Challenge!

With the positive financial and environmental impact, I am issuing an electricity use challenge to 20somethingfinance readers. It takes 3 steps to participate:

  1. Proclaim you are taking the challenge!
  2. Run the test.
  3. Report back with your expected cost savings in the comments and then start making the changes.
  4. After your first full billing cycle with the changes, report back here and share your electricity savings vs. the same month in the prior year (note: use kWh per day in the event your billing cycle # of days varied).

This experiment will actually take a little bit of focus and time to play out, but those who take it on can forever bathe in their own awesomeness, save some money, and cut their carbon footprint. What more could you want than that?!

Have you already run the experiment? What were your results?

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About the Author
I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 10,000+ others by getting FREE email updates. You can also explore every post I have written, in order.

  • Modest Money says:

    I’d love to take this challenge, but I’ve only been in my new apartment for a month. So I wouldn’t have much to compare my results against. Also I already make a point of unplugging many appliances when not in use. I did take glance at your previous post about standby power and will try to take some additional steps. That’s awesome that you are sharing that energy monitoring device with others to save even more electricity.

  • Alan Gornik says:

    I am far from a 20something, but am tackling this issue now so I thought I’d respond. When the last of my sons left our house for college in August of last year, I radically rearranged my plugs to be on power strips that I could shut off nightly. I unplugged a number of things completely like their XBox and a 2nd TV. I redid the power settings on my computers. I down-watted bulbs and switched to cfls. The biggest change was that I moved my home office activities into a different part of the house for the winter from a spot where I had to use an electric heater. So all this led to savings from 24% to 51% each month. Very noticeable on my bills. Kw comparison follows:

    Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar
    613 1179 1746 1221 926 <2010,11 base usage
    461 573 1004 596 460 <2011,12 current usage

    24.8% 51.4% 42.5% 51.2% 50.3% <savings

  • Pampibon says:

    Thank you for challenging us!! I recently realized that I have “developed-country-citizen-guilt” because I cringe when I think about our wasteful lifestyles yet others in developing countries are aspiring to adopt our lifestyle. All this to say, yikes! What are we doing to our Earth?!

    I will purchase one soon and pass it around as you did (thanks for the inspiration!)

    Last week, I purchased a shower heard shut-off valve to decrease my water usage. I’m embarassed to say it – I seldomly turn off the water during my showers so this should help. I bought it for $10 on Amazon and purchased another one as a give-away for a contest at work.

  • mdenis39 says:

    This reminds me of a story my brother told me about his then 9 yr old daughter. After learning about CFLs in school, she came home and excitedly recounted about how much energy they could save by switching their lights to CFLs. My brother’s response was, “And how much energy do you think we would save if you actually turned the lights off when you leave a room?”

    • G.E. Miller says:

      I’m not sure I follow your point. Are you comparing me to a 9-year old girl?

    • dawn says:

      I know this is quite old but I wanted to comment about mdenis39’s post.

      I did not find this to be a jab at you or a reference to testing your appliances.

      Having kids I found the reply the brother had to his 9 yr old daughter funny and believe that was mdenis39’s reason for posting.

      I have 3 kids who walk through the house and flip on every switch they pass but rarely flip them off without being asked. If one were to comecome home talking about changing bulbs I’d have said the same thing.

      Thanks for the article. I’m going to check my meter and start trying to cutnour bill.

  • Ron Ablang says:

    I read somewhere that the Comcast cable box uses about $5 worth of energy every MONTH. So I bought a Belkin product (a power strip) that shuts off the cable box whenever I shut off the TV (since I don’t use a DVR).

  • jim says:

    I think mdenis39’s point was – go old school. Turn the lights off and appliances off when they’re not in use. You really don’t need a little gizmo to tell you how much electricity you can save by simply doing what your parents told you all throughout your childhood. Everything doesn’t need to be on 24/7 – and it shouldn’t be. Make it a habit to turn things off that you’re not using. It really is that simple.

    • G.E. Miller says:

      Well, I think if he had read this article and the preceding, he’d realize I already was doing that. Turning things off only takes you so far with standby power. Unplugging things is the next step, but that’s always a bit of inconvenience. What this device does is tell you what to unplug, what behaviors to change, and what to replace altogether.


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