How To: Cut Your Electric Bill – Upgrade Your Lighting

How To: Cut Your Electric Bill

Upgrade Your Lighting

Cut Your Electric Bill - Lighting Types


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Types of Lightbulbs:

Incandescent Lighting:

  • classic, inexpensive lighting.  Contains a wire filament that heats when electrical current passes through causing it to glow and give off light.
  • inefficient: incandescent bulbs convert less than 5% of the energy they use into visible light with the remainder dissipating as heat.
  • Typical wattage: 60-120 watts / 14.3 lumens per watt

Compact Fluorescent Lighting:

  • CFLs use one-fifth to one-third the electric power, and last eight to fifteen times longer.
  • A CFL has a higher purchase price than an incandescent lamp, but can save over five times its purchase price in electricity costs over the lamp’s lifetime.
  • Not great for extreme temperatures
  • Typical wattage: 14 watts / 55.4 lumens per watt

LED Lighting:

  • contains a light emitting diode that is encased in the light bulb. LED lamps have a lifespan and efficiency that is several times better than incandescent bulbs, and significantly better than most CFLs, with some chips able to emit more than 100 lumens per watt.
  • Typical wattage: 9 watts / 84 lumens per watt

Simply replacing the typical four 40 watt incandescent lighting in a ceiling fan to 4 compact fluorescent bulbs saves 132 watts.  That really adds up over time, particularly over the extended lifespan of a CFL (which often come with a manufacturer warranty).

Ceiling Fan Fix:

Some ceiling fans may flicker when a full set of compact fluorescent lights are substituted for incandescent bulbs.  To fix this, use compact fluorescent bulbs for all but one socket.  Use one incandescent bulb for the remaining light.  Despite the use of one incandescent, you’ll still be saving a significant amount of electricity.

If you are unable to completely upgrade your lighting by replacing each bulb in your home, start with the most frequently used areas in your house and save areas like closets, which only use light for short periods of time, for last.

Looking for More Ways to Save on Your Utility Bill?:

Check out our How to: Cut Your Electric Bill video series below




Missouri Wind and Solar YouTube

Wind Turbines and Solar Panels: Batteries for the Beginner

Wind Turbines and Solar Panels: Batteries for the Beginner

For wind and solar beginners who are just getting started, don’t spend lots of money on forklift batteries, instead, purchase a 12V automotive battery or deep cycle marine battery.  This will be sufficient until you are more familiar with how your wind turbine or solar panels will work and are ready to expand.

Popular Batteries in Alternative Energy:

Trojan L16EAC Battery 6V Trojan L16G-AC Battery 390AH: Flooded Battery, Wet Cell – Second most popular battery type.

Trojan L16RE-2V Deep Cycle Battery2V Trojan L16RE Battery 1200AH: Deep Cycle Flooded Battery. New on the market – Renewable Energy Battery.

Put off hydrogen gas, must be vented outside.

6V Trojan T105-AGM: Absorbed Glass Mat – true deep cycle battery.

  • Pros: Doesn’t need to be vented, can lay on their side, last longer than the wet cell
  • Cons: Expensive option

Gel cell batteries: Very expensive and sensitive to charging.  If these batteries are allowed to be overcharged, they will be ruined!

What we recommend: Use a DC Disconnect Switch in line with your batteries and inverter:

For single battery banks, use the DC Disconnect Switch

DC Battery Bank Disconnect Switch

For systems with multiple battery banks, use our DC Switch for Multiple Battery Banks and Power Sources

DC Switch for Multiple Battery Banks and Power Sources

Desulfation of Batteries: If your alternative energy employs more than one battery, consider the issue of desulfation.  Sulfates build up between lead plates within the unit and will wear the battery down.

To prevent build-up of sulfates, pair your system with a PWM (pulse width modulation) charge controller (typically for solar only applications) to knock the sulfates off the plates, prolonging battery life.

If your system includes a wind turbine, the turbine charge surges in the battery that will knock sulfates off the lead plates.

The batteries listed above are meant to charge & recharge frequently. Follow manufacturer recommendations at what percentage to discharge each battery to keep from shortening battery life.  For instance, a single solar panel would take such a long time to charge a large battery bank that you will likely drain the battery below the recommended percentage.  More batteries isn’t always better!

Try to get right amount of batteries for your project.  Don’t pair a huge 5000 watt inverter on a single 12 Volt battery as it will cause the battery to drain way too quickly.  Try a 500 watt or 1000 watt inverter with a small battery.

Battery Placement: Batteries work great at 72 degrees Fahrenheit. However, when temperatures fluctuate up or down, the batteries degrade and are hard to charge.  To keep your batteries at an ideal temperature, build an insulated plywood box that is vented outside to keep the batteries operating optimally!  Batteries placed directly on a cold concrete floor won’t charge easily at all.

Where to Install a Wind Turbine

Where to Install a Wind Turbine

Tips for Where NOT to Site Your Wind Turbine Generator

Jeff from Missouri Wind and Solar talks about the difference between mounting locations and styles as well as pros and cons to where you site your wind turbine generator.


Dirty Wind and Expectations

The peak of your house or shed isn’t necessarily an ideal location to install a wind turbine as you might experience “dirty” turbulent wind that doesn’t flow smoothly.  Any obstruction around your turbine may cause updrafts that will reduce the potential for your wind turbine output.  The higher you go, the higher quality wind your wind turbine will receive.  In fact, the AWEA recommends at least 30 feet above nearby obstructions for best performance*.

Now, a wind turbine tower 80 to 120 feet high might not be possible for your location or budget and that’s perfectly acceptable.  However, you will need to manage your expectations that your wind turbine (by any manufacturer) may not produce its rated output based on where you choose to install it.  You may need to increase the number of wind turbines in your system or consider adding solar panels.

Invest Wisely

If you are making an investment in wind power to reduce your energy cost, your environmental footprint, or off-grid power, be sure to invest in where you site and mount it.  A great analogy would be in selecting potting soil for a plant.  Your plant and its growth potential relies directly on the nutrient content and drainage quality of the medium it grows in.  It’s not worth saving fifty cents and having a sad droopy plant (that will probably need frequent fertilization) when you could have gone with the quality stuff to begin with.

Look at the Facts

If you’re deciding which wind turbine company to go with, do some research by looking at customer reviews but take it with a grain of salt.  Be analytical in the way you look at a YouTube video or product review on wind turbine output.

Ask yourself the following:

  • Where is the generator located?  Is it in a wide open field in Missouri or a residential neighborhood in Alabama?
  • Is it on a sturdy, standalone tower above obstructions or mounted on an outbuilding?
  • What is the diameter of the wind turbine and how wide are the blades?
  • Does it look like it gets regular preventative maintenance?

Don’t believe everything that gets thrown at you or you’ll suffer information overload.  Ask questions on points that need clarification or if something looks suspicious or too good to be true!  Just look at the raw facts and decide if the wind turbine power output reflects the quality of the setup.

*AWEA FAQ’s for small wind systems

Missouri Wind and Solar YouTube