9 Tips for saving energy costs at home

If you reduce your energy costs, you can save a lot of money without necessarily sacrificing comfort. Consumers can reduce their electricity costs and improve their carbon footprint with these electricity-saving tips.

Converting from conventional light bulbs to LED lights is worthwhile to save energy costs. Photo: andrey_popov / stock.adobe.com

When the electricity bill flutters into the house, the shock comes for many: The costs and consumption are once again higher than expected. Consumers then inevitably wonder why the bills are so high, even though they are not aware of any energy waste. Often this is not due to a wasteful lifestyle, but inefficient appliances, energy price increases or unconscious energy consumption.

Energy expert Professor Timo Leukefeld explains how consumers can save electricity and reduce their heating costs without sacrificing quality of life.

9 tips for low energy costs

Tip 1: Reduce energy costs with mini solar system

Prof. Timo Leukefeld, energy expert, photo: timoleukefeld.de

Prof. Timo Leukefeld, expert for energetieautarkes living and living. Photo: timoleukefeld.de

"Tenants or apartment owners in an apartment building who want to save on electricity costs with the help of solar energy should start with a mini solar system," recommends energy expert Leukefeld. In May 2018, the preliminary standard DIN VDE V 0100-551-1 (VDE V 0100-551-1) was published in Germany. Since then, consumers have been allowed to connect photovoltaic systems to an existing end circuit.

Mini solar systems are mobile solar systems that can be connected to the power grid via a special energy socket or via a fixed installation. "With a solar output of 600 watts, consumers in southern Germany can generate up to 660 kilowatt hours of electricity per year," says Leukefeld. This would correspond to around 20 percent of the annual electricity consumption of an average household and a CO2 saving of around 320 kilograms.

Caution: Connecting a plug-in solar system via an ordinary power outlet is prohibited in Germany. It can lead to overloading of the circuit and a line fire. Consumers should take care of VDE safety regulations and therefore hire an expert electrician to install them.

Tip 2: Use LED and energy-saving lamps

To save electricity, consumers should use LED or energy-saving lamps. LED and energy-saving lights are more expensive than ordinary light bulbs, but they last much longer. An incandescent lamp usually burns about 1.000 operating hours, which is roughly equivalent to one year’s operation. Energy-saving light bulbs last about 10.000 and LED lamps 25.000 hours of operation. In addition, energy saving LED lights are the most efficient because they don’t convert 90% of the energy into heat like incandescent bulbs do. "However, switching to LED lamps is only worthwhile financially if the old lights are broken," stresses energy expert Leukefeld, "because it makes no economic sense to replace working lights."

Tip 3: Connect dishwasher and washing machine to the hot water supply

Energy saving, energy efficiency, save electricity, save electrical energy, Photo: JenkoAtaman / stock.adobe.com

A washing machine uses less electricity if it is connected to the hot water supply. Photo: JenkoAtaman / stock.adobe.com

If you connect your dishwasher and washing machine to the hot water, you also save a lot of electricity. "If the dishwasher heats up the rinse water, this costs around 25 to 28 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity. The boiler, on the other hand, does the job for four to seven cents per kilowatt hour," explains Timo Leukefeld. To avoid damage, however, the dishwasher should only be connected to the hot water supply using a hose approved for hot water. If you also insulate the water pipe, you increase the efficiency even more.

"In the case of a washing machine with a cold water inlet, a washing machine prewash can help," recommends Leukefeld. This device mixes hot and cold water in the desired ratio in the inlet hose and feeds it into the washing machine. This way, the water is not expensively heated in the machine, but already beforehand via the central heating system. "Since a washing machine ballast costs between 250 and 350 euros, the purchase is only worthwhile for a household of three or more people.", says Leukefeld. Modern washing machines often have a hot and cold water inlet – in this case, no ballast is needed to connect the machine to hot water.

Tip 4: Energy-efficient washing

Even when doing laundry, consumers can save electricity and money. After all, more than 75 percent of the energy needed for a wash cycle is used to heat the water.

Here’s how to save energy when washing:

  • Wash at a low temperature"If you wash textiles at 30 instead of 60 degrees Celsius, you use two-thirds less electricity when washing," says Leukefeld. Detergents clean laundry optimally even at low temperatures, and clothes stay beautiful longer. However, a boil wash cycle is necessary from time to time to prevent odors from forming in the machine.
  • Do without a prewash cycleIn most cases, the pre-wash cycle is superfluous, since textiles are rarely heavily soiled. If consumers dispense with the prewash cycle, the amount of electricity required for washing is reduced, and with it the costs.
  • Allow laundry to air dryAccording to the Rhineland-Palatinate consumer advice center, an extremely efficient clothes dryer with efficiency class A+++ consumes 158 kilowatt hours of electricity per year for 160 drying cycles. At an electricity price of €0.29/kWh, this results in electricity costs of around €46 per year, which can be saved by air-drying the laundry. In addition, CO2 emissions are reduced by 77.26 kg per year – after all, air drying is climate neutral.

Tip 5: Laptop instead of PC

Anyone who wants to buy a new computer should go for a mobile laptop. Energy expert Leukefeld says: "Compared to a desktop PC, a laptop typically consumes 91 kg less CO2 per year". After all, a laptop with comparable performance and features to a multimedia PC requires only 30 watts in normal operation, whereas a desktop PC requires at least 200 watts.

Laptop Desktop PC
Usage time/day 3 hrs. 3 hrs.
Power 30 watts 200 watts
Electricity costs per year at 29 ct / kWh 9,53 Euro 63.51 euros
Annual. C02 emissions* 16.06 kg 107.09 kg

* According to estimates by the Federal Environment Agency, in 2017 one kilowatt-hour of electricity caused 489 grams of C02.

Tip: 6 Switch off electronic devices completely

Saving energy, energy efficiency, saving electricity, electrical energy, electricity consumption, Photo: iStock.com / yenwen

Who television set and Co. switching off the appliance after use saves a lot of energy. Photo: iStock.com / yenwen

Convenience versus energy savings: When it comes to electronic devices, convenience often wins out. Instead of switching off the appliances completely, they are usually left in stand-by mode. Stereo, TV and other appliances on standby. Continuous electricity. According to the Federal Environment Agency, this is how Germans throw four billion euros a year out the window. This accounts for around 10 percent of electricity costs in the household.

Appliances that don’t have a switch also draw power continuously when they’re connected to the grid. "It is worthwhile to determine their energy consumption with an electricity consumption meter," knows Timo Leukefeld. These devices can be bought for a few euros in hardware stores or on the Internet. "Consumers should connect the biggest power guzzlers to a power strip with a switch. This is a simple way to cut off the power supply when not in use," explains the energy expert.

In this way, consumers avoid unnecessary electricity costs:

  • Switch off or unplug electrical appliances and chargers after use.
  • Connect appliances that do not have a switch to a power strip with a switch
  • When buying new, go for electrical appliances that can be completely disconnected from the mains and have low standby consumption.

Power strips are limited to an output of about 3.000 to 3.500 watts designed. Connected devices should not exceed this, or power lines can overheat and begin to burn.

Tip 7: Household appliances: Look for a good efficiency class

To ensure that consumers can immediately recognize the energy efficiency of an electrical appliance, energy labels have been introduced in the European Union. These labels classify products into energy efficiency classes and must be clearly listed on equipment packaging. The efficiency classes shown on it are specified individually for each appliance group. They indicate the consumption of an appliance compared to reference appliances. Therefore, it is not possible to compare the efficiency of different types of appliances with each other.

For refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines and televisions, the power consumption since 1. March 2021 a new scale, while lamps from 1. September 2021 to be rescaled. Other product groups with EU energy labels will follow in the coming years. Graphic: EU

Since March 2021, there is a new EU energy label for some appliances. The reason: In recent years, there have been rapid improvements in efficiency. In several product groups, almost all appliances are now in the top efficiency classes. Efficiency differences are therefore hardly recognizable for consumers anymore. Further information is available on the website of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

Anyone buying a new household appliance should look for the best possible efficiency class. Timo Leukefeld emphasizes: "The better the energy efficiency, the less electricity the appliance needs to run. This is how consumers save a lot of energy and money in the long term."

Tip 8: Defrost refrigerator and freezer regularly

If a layer of ice forms in the refrigerator, energy efficiency suffers. Photo: iStock.com / Andrey_Popov

Owners of an older refrigerator or freezer should defrost the appliance about twice a year. "This measure is always necessary if there is not just a frost build-up, but a layer of ice on the inside walls of the refrigerator or freezer," explains energy expert Leukefeld. A five-millimeter-thick layer of ice increases the refrigerator’s power consumption by around 30 percent. Ice is a good insulator, so more energy is needed to keep food cool.

This is how consumers prevent the formation of a layer of ice:

  • Only put packaged food in the fridge, otherwise you will give off a lot of moisture.
  • Put the fridge and freezer in a place that is as cool as possible, not next to the oven.
  • Refrigerate or. Close the freezer door quickly.
  • When buying new, consider no-frost appliances

Tip 9: Electricity provider comparison saves costs

Consumers can significantly reduce their electricity costs by comparing providers. It is very easy to compare the prices of electricity providers on the Internet. Consumers enter their zip code and average annual consumption in the relevant portals. This can be calculated from the last annual bills. Already they become different offerers and/or. Tariffs – sorted by price – suggested.

But the cheapest offer is not always the best one. It is important to compare the conditions of the providers. Consumers should make sure that providers refrain from automatic contract extensions and price increases during the contract term and offer contracts with short terms and notice periods.

Particularly cheap offers often have a catch, such as the obligation to pay a deposit or advance payment. Sometimes the tariff seems very cheap because of a new customer bonus, but after a year it is much more expensive. Or electricity packages, i.e. a certain amount of electricity for a fixed period of time, are sold.

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