Very hot or cold, darker, rainy days – all these climatic conditions significantly increase your monthly electricity bill. As utility bills recur, it can eat into your disposable income. Not only does saving energy add to your kitty, it also helps the country and the earth – housing accounts for 22% of current electricity consumption and is expected to reach 39% of demand by 2047. Reduced energy can save capital spent on power plants and emissions. A few simple ideas – when building a house or improving it – can help you save on utility bills.
If you’re buying or building a new home, the maximum savings come from energy-efficient design. Studies show a 30% saving thanks to often simple features such as natural ventilation and lighting.
Materials make the next big difference. For example, for roofing, a good choice of materials can provide insulation in hot weather and cold roofing materials deflect sunlight and reduce roof temperature. Thermoplastic, one of these materials, is said to reflect 80% of the sun’s rays, which is much higher than the 30% of asphalt roofs. This can save 15% of a building’s energy consumption. Other materials are terracotta and clay tiles as well as white or light colored glazed tiles.
One renovation idea is to paint the roof. A simple coat of white limestone can reduce the temperature inside the house by 3 degrees and only costs less than ₹30 per square foot. There are also special reflective coatings that can be applied. although costs may be higher, these can also provide UV or water proofing of the roof. A white or reflective roof can potentially save 15% of air conditioning energy consumption.
While roofs are important in a detached or low-rise home, windows are effective at reducing heat at all levels. Installing double-glazed windows, which trap air between them, can save 20% on energy costs (depending on the ambient climate). However, you can pay 30-40% more upfront.
There are also simple supplements to invest in. An example is the installation of solar panels which absorb heat and generate energy which can be used to reduce the electricity consumption of your network. Data from the study showed that a building’s ceiling was 2 to 3 degrees Celsius cooler with solar panels compared to an exposed roof. The capital cost of the solar panel, based on data from the government solar calculator, is around ₹60,000 per unit of energy (based on cost of ₹500 per square foot and 120 square feet of energy). space needed to generate 1 kilowatt). Subsidies of up to 40% are available (for capacities up to 3kW) and recently the application process was done online.
If you are interested in gardening, you can create a green roof by growing plants on the patio. The idea was extended beyond the roofs to the walls as well. A precaution is to ensure that the plants you pick do not wilt easily or consume too much water and that the surface is waterproofed.
Similarly, with windows, you can use sun protection films – simple plastic films similar to those often stuck on car windows. They can reduce heat from windows by up to 80% and save you 5-10% on your electricity bill. Even the use of simple blinds can reduce both light and heat, reducing cooling costs.
Other ways to invest capital to lower the monthly bill include switching to LEDs and green-rated electrical appliances. Newer fan designs, such as brushless DC motor models, consume up to 60% less energy compared to regular fans. Similarly, AC Inverters are about 7% more energy efficient than the non-inverter version.
One, often overlooked, electric hog is motors for water. Gray water (from showers, baths, sinks and washing machines) after a simple treatment can be reused in toilets, the garden and other non-potable consumption. This reduces the power used for pumping fresh water and in sewage treatment plants.
Besides traditional solutions, there are many smart devices and mobile apps that can help you understand your usage and take action to reduce it. For example, sensors can detect that rooms are unoccupied and turn off appliances. Smart blinds with sensors can adjust the opening depending on the ambient conditions. Philips Smart Lighting offers products that can be controlled via a mobile app or voice assistants such as Alexa and Siri. In the US, users have reported 10-20% energy savings with smart devices such as Google Nest, which control lighting and heating/cooling.
Some smart home systems provide an analysis of potential energy savings to, for example, increase the temperature by 2 degrees (typically 10% of cooling costs). Such quantification can provide a much-needed boost to behavior change.
The author is an independent financial consultant
September 03, 2022