Control: A ‘Smart Strip’ makes saving energy more manageable. *Photo supplied
Control: A ‘Smart Strip’ makes saving energy more manageable. *Photo supplied

Let me start by saying I have never been on a diet in my life. 

I am one of those lucky people whose weight never seems to fluctuate by more than a few pounds either way irrespective of what I eat or how much I exercise.

However, I have learnt enough about dieting to know that the first few pounds are always the easiest to shed and they inspire a false sense of optimism that the results achieved in the first few weeks will set the tone for the whole diet.

As many of you already know, this is far from the truth. Once the first few pounds melt away, the rest get progressively harder and harder to shed. 

Well the Energy Diet is no different, the first few kilowatt hours (kWh’s) are the easiest to cut and we will see some quick and easy returns but as the monthly bill starts to drop it’s going to get more and more challenging to keep cutting the kWh’s. 

It is also going to require investment in technology that is designed to be energy efficient and that requires a longer-term planning horizon. 

Our final challenge will be BELCO’s tiered billing structure. 

Remember the last instalment; the most expensive electricity we purchase is when our consumption exceeds 700 kWh’s per month. 

In this premium price band every kilowatt hour(kWh) of energy we use costs us around $0.4822 cents. 

So if we can save 100 kWh’s in this maximum price band we will save $48.22 per month. 

However, once we reduce our monthly consumption below 700 kWh’s, the price per unit drops to around $0.4250 cents per kWh so the next hundred kWh’s saves us $42.50 per month.

Add all of these challenges together and we are looking at what is commonly known as ‘The Law of Diminishing Returns’.

Now, if you are still up for the challenge let’s get started. We are going to use a three-step programme.

1. Remove Wastage

2. Increase Efficiency

3. Introduce Renewables

Wastage is probably the easiest one to deal with, it is also the cheapest because it usually only requires us to become more aware of our energy habits. 

Take a walk around your house and make a note of everything that is plugged in, and in particular, anything that is displaying an LED screen showing the time or status. 

Ask yourself, do they need to be plugged in?

 The most common offenders will be phone chargers, cable boxes, TVs, computer equipment and kitchen appliances. 

These are commonly referred to as ‘Vampire Devices’  and are all quietly consuming power 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year. Let me give you an example: A single cable box (DVR) draws 25 Watts of power in standby mode. 

Assuming you use over 700 kWh’s per month those measly 25 watts will equate to approximately $8.85 per month. Now, many of us have more than one DVR so do the math and remember it’s almost $10 per month, per box, before we turn it on!

Now the problem for most of us is we don’t want to spend time on our hands and knees plugging and unplugging devices so here is my top tip for reducing wastage – purchase a couple of ‘Smart Strips’ (see photo). The smart strip let’s you plug multiple devices into one power bar and one device into the control outlet that switches the other outlets on and off automatically.

So now we can plug the TV into the control outlet and put the DVR, DVD, surround sound, etc into the automatically switched outlets. When the TV is switched on or off the other devices follow suit. Next we can tame the home computer, and the numerous devices we attach to it.

By plugging the processor into the control outlet and the peripherals into the switched outlets we can automatically switch all the peripherals on and off with the processor.

Finally, before you leave the house in the morning or go to bed in the evening, turn off the lights! n

Nick Duffy is the divisional manager Bermuda Alternate Energy (BAE).