How to Run a More Power Efficient Home

Our first home was on the second floor of my mom in law’s house in Quezon city. Mom graciously gave us the whole second floor of the house to set up our own 2 bedroom flat complete with a living room, dining room, kitchen plus an adjacent home office. That’s where we spent our first decade as a young family and and it was a blessing to live there not only because it was a comfortable space but also because the kids grew up with their grandma (Bita as we call her), uncle, and also got to save a lot on expenses. Bita didn’t charge us rent, but we wanted to contribute, so our form of “rent” was to shoulder the electricity bill of the whole house. The 5-digit amount that we paid Meralco every month was still a reasonable amount if we consider what we would have really paid as rent, but then I’d sometimes wonder how we could lower our bill. It was quite difficult to do because we were in a house with multiple families, and it was a 40-year old home with 40-year old wirings.

Since we moved to our own home 3 years ago, I’ve been able to have more control on power usage. The past year though, our Meralco bill has also hit the 5-digit mark and I’ve been interested in finding out how we could lower our bill and save some money on our Meralco payments. Whenever I receive Meralco’s advisories inserted into the billing, I make sure to read them.

In a recent lunch meet up we had with some Meralco officers, it was very interesting to learn even more tips, but also find out that Meralco had set up various online channels where we can pick up tips, updates and services to help us run a more power efficient home. Meralco’s BRIGHT IDEAS campaign, can be found not only as a button in their Meralco Facebook page but also in their corporate Youtube channel.

At the lunch, Meralco also had shared with us the not-so-good news to expect an increase in our electricity bills between December till February. The increase is no joke at an additional Php4.15 increase per kilowatt hour within the next 3 months. (Cue: collective *sigh*)

Alfred of Meralco shared with us that reason for the increase was due to annual maintenance shutdown of the Camago-Mampalaya pipeline. According to Meralco, this forced them to source power from other providers and this resulted in increased costs, particularly the charges on power generation. Here’s the advisory on reasons for the power rate adjustment:

With this news, I realized all the more how important it is to really learn about how to save energy at home. There were some tips I was already following, to be able to run a more energy efficient home but also picked up new ones along the way. Here are some of them:

1. ON APPLIANCES. Unplug cords of electronics when not in use. Electronic appliances use up phantom energy when it is plugged even if it is on standby mode. This includes phone and gadget chargers.


At home, I use this power board with individual switches that way I can keep everything plugged in, but still control which appliance has power, as needed. Meralco contacts say this type of board is safe to use, unlike the octopus plugs that overload the outlets.

2. AIRCON TIPS:
– When using the aircon, be conscious about the thermostat setting. Set it at a comfortable lever. You can save up to 5% power usage per degree of coolness.
– Observe regular maintenance of applicances particularly aircons – dirty filters affect coolness.
– If you can use a timer to limit aircon use (automatically turn off while you are sleeping), that would also help.
– When buying a new aircon, select the right horsepower of aircon for the room size. This ensures that the aircon will work to its correct capacity because if it is overworked, it consumes more power. If you buy an aircon that is too powerful for a room, then you are needlessly consuming electricity that is not needed.
– Check the yellow tag for energy efficiency ratings. For aircons, the higher the EER the more energy efficient.
– New aircons also consume 30% less energy than old airocns so if you are still using old aircons, it might be worth while to already upgrade.

3. REFRIGERATOR TIPS:
– When appliance shopping, make sure you choose the right size of refriegerator for your family. When there is too much space in the ref and it is not loaded, it consumes more power.
– Clean the condenser coils behind the refrigerator with a broom or vacuum twice a year to keep it functioning well.
– Also check the yellow tag for energy efficiency rating. For aircons, the higher the EEF, the more energy efficient
– If you can afford an inverter aircon or ref, it is worth the extra expense in the long run because it consumes 30% less energy.

4. ON ROOM TREATMENTS. Room treatments and arrangement can also help save energy use–
– Use solar shades as window coverings to keep out the heat, just make sure that if you hire window washing services that they take care of them properly.
– Make sure windows and doors do not have holes wehere heat can enter or cold air can escape.
– The way you place your furniture can even affect power consumption- Plugged electronics (even on standby mode) generate heat thus putting the aircon beside the tv can cause your aircon to work harder and use up more power.
– In the kitchen, it is not advisable to put the ref near the stove because the ref will work harder to cool. It is also not advisable to put the oven or stove near the sink (if these are electricity powered and not gas) because water element will cool the heated appliances making it work harder.

5. ON WASHING MACHINES- front loading washers use less energy than top loading.
I was so happy with this news because I had just tested our new Electrolux Washer Dryer with Time manager which happens to be a front loading one.


This model even has a load indicator which allows you to maximize the load per cycle. I’ll post a separate review on this soon!

6. ON LIGHTING:
– For this Christmas season, use LED lights.
– Speaking of LED, if you can start switching all fixtures from CFL to LED it would save you tons as well. (see my post on LED lights here)
– Use the right bulb wattage for your rooms. Switching from a 10w to a7w bulb saves 30% did you think of that?

Since every household member uses electricity- with every flick of the switch, press of the remote, etc, since my kids are already of responsible age, I feel it necessary to include them in the briefing and give them tips and tools as well that are appropriate for their own understanding and experience.

Here are some of the tips that I shared with the boys and Reese that I hope they’d keep in mind–

I thought it was quite important that we empower our househelp by briefing them on all these tips because sometimes they also don’t know the effect of leaving unnecessary lights on, scheduling days they do the laundry and iron clothes etc.

Mara of Meralco also told us about their very useful app that have very interesting functionalities—

Eli, thepainterswife.com, who is all smiles as Joaco Canas of Loyola Meralco Sparks Football Club, demonstrates the app to us

The Meralco MOVE app has very useful functionalities (no wonder Eliza is all smiles:P )

It again shows Meralco’s Bright Ideas’ power saving tips

You can click on different parts of the house and tips pop up

along with alerts on special deals like this 50% off deal on Electrolux induction cookers! This is a great deal! (I heard this appliance was sold out at the Electrolux booth during the last Mommy Mundo Bazaar!)

The Appliance calculator- my favorite function.  I just found out we spend a whopping P4,000 a month just on my 2-hp aircon in our bedroom. Gaah!

The kids’ aircon which is just 1-hp also still costs us more than P1,000 a month. Maybe its time for my teens to bunk in with us again at night!

My ref consumes power that costs us P 1,000 + a month

You can also enroll for the e-meralco bill and get soft copies of your bill and monitor payments.

and get updates on maintenance schedules too.

That was an enlightening lunch and with all these tools and tips shared with me I hope I’m able to not only reduce our power consumption at home but also empower my family and household to help us with this goal. Remember that in the end, reducing consumption is not only good for our pockets, especially in the coming months, but also something we should do for our mother earth.

For more info on electricity, power consumption and savings, visit the following Meralco pages:

Website www.meralco.com.ph

Facebook www.facebook.com/meralco

Twitter www.twitter.com/meralco

Youtube www.youtube.com/meralco

Update!

As of December 23, the Supreme Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to put on hold the power rate increase for the month of December. Consumers are advised with the following guidelines in paying the Meralco bill:

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