Introduction: Make the Power Company Cry

Picture of Make the Power Company Cry

i don't know about you but i live in the north eastern united states and i pay out my rear end for electricity and got tired of it. so a few tips that you may or may not have thought about to help cut down on the power and heating bills and make the power company cry. (bastards)

Step 1: Loose Those Stupid Lights.

Picture of Loose Those Stupid Lights.

i have a big problem with lights. my roomate used to come home and turn on the portch light, the hall light, the light at the top of the hall, the light in the living room, the light in his room, the light in the kitchen, and the light in the bathroom and leave them on. yea. so what i do now that my roomate is gone... i got rid of the stupid low efficency lights. and

i have replaced all the lights in my apartment with energy efficent bulbs and only turn the lights on in the room im in.

most of the lights are in cealing fans witch have 4 sockets and they had 4 100w bulbs in them. i dont need day light in my room i just need enough to see. so i took out 3 of the bulbs and put 1 high efficency 40w bulb.

also my roomate used to close his curtains and turn the lights on mid day. and turn lights on in the bathroom mid day. theres no fricken reason to do that unless its dark.

Step 2: Doors

Picture of Doors

doors are killers for heating. close the closet doors, the pantry, the bathroom, the old roommate's room that's not being used and any other area that's not being used. honestly you don't need to heat your closet.

daft guards
draft guards are your friends. there inexpensive and greatly help keeping the heat where you want it. if your don't want to buy draft guards you can use a rolled up towel. it works almost as good. you just have to re position it after.

weather stripping
some weather stripping can go around the door too not just under it . and don't forget the mostly over looked top of the door that's right heat gets out there too.

Step 3: Windows

Picture of Windows

don't have thermal windows well there's still ways to keep the heat in. curtains are a good start they keep a good amount of heat in. that's curtains, not blinds or shades.

caulking cord
using caulking cord is an inexpensive way to stop drafts around old windows

weather stripping
not just for doors, weather stripping is good for windows too the advantage is you can still open the window but the caulking cord seals the best.

Step 4: If Your Not Using It Turn It Off

Picture of If Your Not Using It Turn It Off

if your not using something turn it off. how about the entertainment system in your living room. ya you know the one on the other side of your place that is on right now with no one watching it. or take it a step further. OK the TV is off but every thing is still plugged in right, well how often do you actually use it if your like me i have a TV in my room with my PC so im never in the living room. so switch the power bar off and when you actually want to use it turn it back on. you might think "ok what is that gona save me a dollar total a month" well its probably more but this is about saving money use your noggen im sure you can look around your place and find all sorts of little things to save a buck or two. and a buck here and a buck there starts to add up.

Step 5: Heating Options

Picture of Heating Options

when choosing how to heat your place consider all the options available.

natural gas forced air heating
my parents have this its not bad but not great and the air really gets dry to the point where we had to put a humidifier in.

radiator heat usually works off gas or oil and are more efficiency than forced air or electric but have higher maintenance costs.

electric baseboard
electric baseboard is small and has relatively low maintenance but are more expensive to run.

electric space heater
electric space heaters are very inefficient unless your heating a small space like one room only. there cheep to buy but expensive to run.

pellet stove
pellet stoves are cool the fule they use is saw dust leftover mainly from manufacturing that is pressed into a pellet no glue no chemicals just sawdust and pressure. when they first came out i was going to buy one but i couldn't afford one.
now they are gaining in popularity so fast that the demand for pellets has gone through the roof
i can get 1 ton of pellets for around $350 ish. not bad but the price for pellets continues to rise so not for me.

Step 6: Things I Would Love to Do

Picture of Things I Would Love to Do

if only i could afford it. i want to put solar panels in even if i use more power than they put out its a little less money spent. another idea is the fiber optic lighting. my place is dark even with the windows open in the day. they make a unit that delivers the natural sunlight collected from a mirror about the size of a satellite dish"the new age ones not the old hot tub sized ones" mounted on your roof via fiber optic cables that will light 1000 square ft of floor space. that's my entire apartment. more info on that here and there's more but that's for another time. so i hope this saves you a little cash. happy saving.


mcarrell (author)2011-07-01

I took solar yard lights that are three lights wired to a single panel and mounted the panels outside my house on the roof-line or on the side of the house near the roofline, ran the wires inside the house, and mounted the LED lights in corners of rooms so I have "moon lighting" in my house for free every night! It looks and works great!


It adds safety by always having some level of light in hallways and other dark areas. It works even when the power goes out. The cost of changing three NiMH batteries every few years is quite minimal.. No more "night light" power wastes for kids, their bedrooms are also "moon light" equipped..

dadoffour (author)2011-04-23

ON the CFL bulbs, just be aware they contain ALLOT of Mercury. I used to use them for the energy savings, however the more I learned about their Mercury content I decided to go back to incandescent bulbs. LED lights are energy efficient AND safe, but they're expensive as all get out!

Dragon1127 (author)2011-03-11

A Site called, that has solar shingles, which are like regular shingles for the roof, but generate power of 17 watts per shingle. The only problem is that one 45 standard pack of shingle cost about $8,400.

Talk about hurting for funds to do this

SHR-17 PV Shingles cost $185 per unit.
Standard 45 Pack of SHR-17 PV cost $8,325 (only sell in 45 pack)

$8325 x # = P

# - How many shingle pack are need to finish a house
P - Cost of the SHR -17 to finish a house

clintsmithgsm (author)2009-09-16

ya know .. I have an idea to try taking blinds and painting the outside facing side of the blinds black and mounting the hardware about an inch to an inch and a half below the top of the windows and see if that would create a solar heater effect leaving the inside of the blinds white so in the summer you could put the white on the outside facing position so not to raise the cooling costs and would add a nice blackout effect for those such nice people the sit at the stop sign in front of my house with there brights on at night if I have holes in my theory let me know.

been awhile since this post, but my cousin made some similar units that were boxes on the south facing windows of his house. They would warm the air coming out of the top to 115degrees ....they definitely work.  We live in lower central ny. Good Luck.

deathpanda (author)clintsmithgsm2009-09-17

i cant think of any problems with that im intrested to know how it goes. will you be testing its efficency? i think it would be a really cool expeariment to do over a few weeks. record the data and see if it really helps. oh yea and pls make an instructable about the design and efficency outcome. :)

deathpanda (author)2009-12-05

yea im in bridgeport we got alot of old houses here

Solderguy (author)2009-10-24

Who did your contracting work? Did they just cut a rectangle in the wall and hang the door there? :P

deathpanda (author)Solderguy2009-11-19

lol its not my house i would have smacked the contractor then handed him a level and a 90 degree ruler.

deathpanda (author)2009-11-19


jeff-o (author)2008-10-21

You forgot geothermal heat pumps. They use no fuel at all, and about as much electricity as a forced air system. They are very expensive, though (about 40k, most of which is the drilling and installation costs).

deathpanda (author)jeff-o2008-10-21

i think that you can only use them in certain geological areas. but good thinking i forgot about them. if you can afford it go for it. :)

jeff-o (author)deathpanda2008-10-22

Well technically you can use a geothermal heat pump anywhere. Assuming your house isn't built on solid rock, you just have to dig down far enough to reach a point where the ground stays a constant temperature all year round. In North America, 10-15 feet is all you need.

jcencer (author)jeff-o2009-01-30

You're right, 10 to 15 feet deep is good for a horizontal piping system, which requires significant amounts of yard space. If you have the acreage, it's a great option, or if you have a lake, that works well too. Typical vertical wells are 200 to 300 feet deep because of the required surface area of the piping to obtain the correct thermal transfer. Jim Cencer, PE, CEM The Trane Company

clintsmithgsm (author)jcencer2009-09-16

what he's not telling you is the system alone will not be enough if it get very cold at all form what I know about these systems is that there's not that much difference of heat I'm talking if its 20 degrees f out is only gonna make the house 35 to 45 degrees f inside yeah thats not enough alone to heat my house and for the cost you can keep it considering I'd have to buy a furnace from this guy as well geothermal has been around since the sixties there's a reason why its not used more frequently just like solar panels .... the cost! granted the cost of the latter has come down a lot in recent years

deathpanda (author)jeff-o2008-10-24

i live on the coast i. and i think that 10-15 ft would be right in the water line. but still very good idea.

jeff-o (author)deathpanda2008-10-24

Even better! You can sink pipes into lakes, ponds and groundwater aquifiers just as easily. Still pricey, though. ;)

jcencer (author)jeff-o2009-01-30

A good rule of thumb for geothermal is $6500/ton installed, which includes drilling and equipment. I've put in about 4,000 tons of it commercially around the U.S. Regards, Jim Cencer, PE, CEM The Trane Company

jeff-o (author)jcencer2009-01-30

If that had been the cost here, I would have a geothermal system of my own. *sigh* As a side note, I ended up installing a Trane high efficiency furnace and A/C. ;)

traynor69 (author)2008-11-28

In Japan they mount a 40 watt light bulb under the dining room table and put a blanket over the table. Then everybody works at the table. Heat only where you are, not where you aren't.

deathpanda (author)traynor692009-01-14

this is a great way to save on some heating $$ if your doing work that has you sitting in one spot. but no teacher, parent, threat of violence, or medication has ever gotten me to sit in one place for more that 5 min lol (my teachers hated me). thanks for the comment i cant believe i missed this one when i was putting this together.

PKM (author)deathpanda2009-01-21

You can still heat a smaller space- rather than heat my big rambling old leaky house with the central heating we used to only use a gas fireplace (a bit like step 5 image 4 but less snazzy, ubiquitous in older UK houses) or an electric fan heater in the room that was occupied. It was a great incentive to shut doors behind you if the rest of the house was freezing :)

deathpanda (author)PKM2009-01-23

good point thanks for the comment.

extrordinary1 (author)deathpanda2009-05-13

Here's something I've done in the past and hope to do next winter. I used a quartz radiant heater with 4 elements that were vertical I got at Ace Hardware.
Most of the time I only needed it on low setting. What I do differently, I make an aluminum tube frame welded together. The heater and tube frame is elevated off the floor about 6 inches. It also has a thermostat control to shut off when you reach desired temp. I paint the tubes facing the heater with high temp black stove paint, and after it cures, take it outside and let it cook off unwanted stuff that stinks a lot. Now you are ready to take it back inside, set it up, fire it up, and let it heat up the pipes as they will do so evenly, and will naturally draw the cold air off the floor and heat it quickly exiting the top of the tubes. You can use square tubes if you want too. My next one will be 2 inch square tubes. Treat with the same respect you would with a wood stove.
I call it my indoor solar furnace that works 24/7 if needed. You will be surprised how much heat comes out of that thing. I forgot to mention I cut the tube tops about 4 inches above the heater unit top. If needed, you can frame it in with non combustible materials so it won't turn over, or a pet knock it over, kid get burned... Just make sure cold air can get underneath it, this way no blower motor is needed.
I hope this provoked some thought for you or anyone else reading this. I cranked mine up on high my first night and it didn't take long for me to start turning down the heat as it got hot in there pretty quick in that apartment. On the extreme cold nights, I will not hesitate to light up my candles and oil lamps. I have over 200 candles I made, and I think a dozen large oil lamps I use in case an ice storm knocks out power here, I'll have plenty of light and heat. Got a nasty draft at my sliding glass door. I also make and use vegetable oil lamps too. Only 23 candles warmed this apartment up. I make 3 inch by 9 inch pillar candles from candles others throw away or I got cheap at the thrift store and melted it down for a new candle. Last month my electric bill was only 48 dollars. It has been unusually cool for this time of year here in Missouri. I'm near Kansas City. It stretches 70 miles North and South now after they quit annexing a few years ago.
Overall I hope you or others find this info useful. Many don't consider the amount of heat they waste with radiant heaters wasting power directed at themselves. Use it like a man made solar furnace that works 24/7. You'll be surprised how low you energy cost to heat will drop.

deathpanda (author)extrordinary12009-05-15

great ideas you got me interested. but now i vote you make an instructable on it :)

extrordinary1 (author)deathpanda2009-05-16

I will post one when the time comes next fall, possibly sooner. Good clear pics and all the details. : ) I need another one. I'm currently working on altering a wind turbine desgin I found on here. I'm hopeful it will generate enough power to operate this heater for free. What I save in energy costs, repays the cost of building this stuff quickly.

TschNJ (author)traynor692009-01-30

I use a SolusAir halegon heater, consuming only 400watts on low, it keeps me and my cats comfortably warm on a cold winter's night. I save by keeping the unused areas of my home at about 61 degrees. I've never had to use this heater on its high (800watt) setting. It may be bright but I can deal with it! I save further by using CFLs in as many of my fixtures as possible.

conky (author)2009-03-25

You are right about starting with the windows, but shade are a must. Cellular window shades actually stop the convection that causes heat loss, and they have a R-value of 4.6. Not bad. Here is a link to the brand that I put in my house They look good too.

deathpanda (author)conky2009-05-13

the cell shades or just good thick shades that cover the windows and a little wall help too but convection isn't the problem there. convection means heat goes up insulating your attic would do more to save on heating and ac when it comes to heat loss due to convection. mainly its extra draft protection and also stops a little heat loss from conduction ie. in winter the glass in the window gets cold from the temp outside and transfers that colder temp in.

bwpatton1 (author)2009-01-08

My grandparents have a type of heating in their home, it is hot water being pumped through copper pipes that run along the base boards in their home. It is very interesting and I would think energy saving becaue the hot water that is just normally sitting in your hot water heater is being used to heat your house. That is my theory.

deathpanda (author)bwpatton12009-01-14

thats base board heating. typically the water is heated by a furnace and pumped from a tank through the system (correct me if im wrong). Evan if you hooked it up to your hot water heater it would be cooled by the process of heating the house and would have to be constantly reheated witch uses more energy.

planethalia (author)2008-11-10

I live in chicago and we have forced air gas heating. Also, our heat system was added well after our building was built, so we have one long duct the length of our apartment that leads into every room. If we don't leave our doors open, my roomate's room and the bathroom gets stifling hot, and my room and the front room are freezing!!! But the real killer was our windows. We discovered last winter that by using packing tape and reused bubble wrap to insulate our windows we saved over hundred dollars a month on average I think. I didn't do the exact math but our gas bill dropped like crazy and we didn't even turn down the thermostat. i guess it was because the furnace wasn't working so hard. I don't know if bubble wrap insulation will help with your heating bill, but I thought you'd like the idea.

deathpanda (author)planethalia2008-11-10

good work bringing the bill down. its not necessarily the bubble wrap but any polymer put over the window and sealed properly will let sunlight in (heat and light), and keep drafts out. you can essentially turn your house into a greenhouse is you do a good enough job sealing it my uncle did all the windows in his house with plastic. your heating bill went down because your house wasn't loosing heat as fast therefore took less energy to heat and less gas and money. thanks for the idea keep em coming.

bobobob1230 (author)2008-11-02

the sunlight collection thing is pretty sick

deathpanda (author)bobobob12302008-11-02

yea i tried to sell it to my boss at work but i got shot down.

bobobob1230 (author)deathpanda2008-11-03

eh, not much you can do about that i guess :/

MaryWit (author)2008-10-30

One easy, inexpensive way to increase light--either from a window or low-watt light bulb--is to use well-placed mirrors to reflect the light--the more the brighter. Thanks for your tips and ideas!

oniman7 (author)MaryWit2008-11-01

If you don't care so much about being tacky, you could place aluminum/tin foil over the blinds.

deathpanda (author)MaryWit2008-10-31

great idea. I never would have thought of that

Plasmana (author)2008-10-26

Maybe you can make your own fiber optic lighting, it will save you a crap loads of money. I an going to try make one someday...

deathpanda (author)Plasmana2008-10-27

i thought about it. but i just don't have the cash to try, not to mention that the land lord would probably kill me. but i always wanted to try. if i get this new job i might try. if i do i will make it an instructable :D.

Plasmana (author)deathpanda2008-10-28


treep1 (author)2008-10-26

I watched a tv show about saving money not long ago. They demonstrated how all of those electronic devices (stereo, tv, etc.) - turned off - were drawing about the same amount of electricity as the refrigerator was when it was running. Having to reset the time every time you turn your power strip back on is a small price to pay when you consider the savings.

deathpanda (author)treep12008-10-27

yep. and think about it, my toaster oven, microwave, the little radio i keep in the kitchen, and the coffee pot are all in the same socket. do they really need to be on all the time. no if i need to make something i flip the switch on and make it then flip the switch off. the clock in the cable box resets automatically. all the little things add up. thanks for the post :).

wazupwiop (author)2008-10-21

some ways my parents save energy: triple pane windows INSULATION IS EXCELLENT new air conditioner (brought heating costs down by %50) new storm doors set heat down to 68 insulating the air ducts and water pipes we use laptops instead of desktops

deathpanda (author)wazupwiop2008-10-21

good thinking those are all great ways to save energy. the only thing is most of the things you have here are expensive to implement. also i rent so i wont be putting any permanent stuff in but keeping the heat down and insulating your pipes and ducts are good for me. good ideas thanks for the post

wazupwiop (author)deathpanda2008-10-22

yeah parents bought a fixer-upper, so that is why some of those are expensive.

deathpanda (author)wazupwiop2008-10-22

but if you can afford them you will save a lot of energy.

JamesRPatrick (author)2008-10-21

You'll be taken more seriously if you use better grammar.

rimar2000 (author)2008-10-18

Wonderful the weather stripping!!

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