Saturday, June 9, 2012

CFL Lights - What's the Big Deal?

Everyone talks about the CFL bulbs.  What's the benefiit?  The average household has 30 light fixtures.  Lighting makes up 20% of the average electric bill. 

CFL bulbs are more expensive--especially when buying one or two.  The multipacks are a much better deal.  They even make globe versions for bathroom lighting and flood light versions.  The technology has come a long way. There is still the matter of disposal, since they contain mercury.

In my case, I had roughly 28 to replace.  I did them gradually, with eight packs.  Typiocally, you can get 8 for $10 or so at most stores.  If you're lazy, you can order them on Amazon, with free shipping (orders over $25).

The bathroom lights were the biggest deal--those were roughly $3 a piece.

If you swap all 30 bulbs, assuming they're 60 watt, with 13 watt CFL's, your savings would be as follows:

You can save as much as $188 per year this way.


The Frugal Maestro

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Insulating Hot Water Pipes

Hot water flows from our hot water heaters to our faucets and shower heads.  Each inch of uninsulated pipe is a slight loss of heat.  Insulating your hot water pipes could raise your hot water temp as much as 4 degrees, allowing you to lower the temperature setting on your hot water heater.  In addition, this can reduce the amount of water that you let flow as you wait for it to heat up.

You can buy a number of types of insulation including tape strips, fiberglass insulation, or styrofoam.  Measure the amount of exposed pipe (pipe you can get at), and the diameter of each section.  Go to a place like Lowes or Home Depot, or buy online HERE.

Insulating your hot water pipes reduces heat loss and can raise water temperature 2ºF–4ºF hotter than uninsulated pipes can deliver, allowing for a lower water temperature setting. You also won't have to wait as long for hot water when you turn on a faucet or showerhead, which helps conserve water.

Insulate all accessible hot water pipes, especially within 3 feet of the water heater. It's also a good idea to insulate the cold water inlet pipes for the first 3 feet. Use quality pipe insulation wrap, or neatly tape strips of fiberglass insulation around the pipes. Pipe sleeves made with polyethylene or neoprene foam are the most common.  Match the pipe size to the inner diameter size of the foam.  Use tie straps to close the foam over the pipe.

On gas water heaters, keep insulation at least 6 inches from the flue. If pipes are within 8 inches of the flue, your safest choice is to use fiberglass pipe-wrap (at least 1-inch thick) without a facing. You can use either wire or aluminum foil tape to secure it to the pipe.

More info can be found at:

They say that every 10 degree water temperature drop saves up to 5 percent of your energy bill.  By this math, a 4 degree reduction could equate to a 2% reduction in energy cost.  This may not seem like much, but a household with the following heating bills
would save some money:

In this example, you save $48 per year.


The Frugal Maestro



Thursday, May 24, 2012

Use of Ceiling Fans in the Summer Months

During the summer months, using the air conditioner to keep your home cool can cost a fortune. 

Ceiling fans can help.  Cool air drops..  A ceiling fan (running counter-clockwise) draws the cool air upward and circulates it better.  This recirculation improves the efficiency of the air conditioning system, extending its life and likely, lowering your bill.

Most ceiling fans use no more electricity than a 100 watt lightbulb.  Studies have shown that this technique can reduce your AC bill by as much as 40%. 

Ceiling fans can be purchased at most hardware stores and big box stores, such as Lowes, Sears, or Home Depot for anywhere from $40 to $300.  They can also be purchased online at a site like Amazon.

Let's a family of four has three bedrooms, and a ceiling fan in each.  Assuming 100 watts per fan, $.09 per kwh, and around-the-clock use of the fans, as well as the following heating bills, we get :
In this example, we save almost $342 per year.


The Frugal Maestro