Sunday, January 20, 2013

Thrift Week Day Four: Mr. Electricity

As I noted in a previous Thrift Week post, saving energy is one of the most ecofrugal choices you can possibly make. It puts money in your pocket by cutting your utility bill, and at the same time it helps reduce all the environmental problems associated with electricity production, from acid rain to global warming. The only problem is that some energy-saving solutions, such as LED light bulbs and super-efficient appliances, cost a lot up front, and it can be tricky to figure out whether they'll actually be cost-effective for you. That's where Michael Bluejay, who calls himself Mr. Electricity, can help. His website is a one-stop source for answers to burning questions like:
  • How much electricity do my appliances use?
  • How much energy do I save by putting my computer to sleep?
  • Does switching light bulbs on and off wear them out faster?
  • How do LED light bulbs compare to CFLs?
  • Will rooftop solar panels be cost-effective for me?
  • If I replace my fridge (washer, water heater, etc.) with a more efficient one, how long will it take to pay for itself?
  • If I cut my home energy use by x kilowatt-hours per month, how will it change my carbon footprint?
In other words, this site is pretty much "everything you ever wanted to know about electricity use but didn't know how to ask."

Michael Bluejay is not an engineer, an electrician, or a scientist of any kind, so many people would not accept his authority as an "expert" on electricity. However, he has obviously done a lot of research on this subject, using reliable sources that he is meticulous about citing. His site may not be as authoritative a source as, say, the EPA, but it's a lot easier to use: there's a handy index right on the left side of the screen, so you can go directly to the page you're looking for, instead of having to dig through page after page trying to find the one fact you want to know (and possibly end up going away empty-handed in the end because the site doesn't address your particular question). I would definitely make his site my first stop when trying to find the answer to any question at all related to electricity, and I would not hesitate in the least to accept any fact I find there as trustworthy.

Actually, the "Saving Electricity" page is just one of the many sections on Michael Bluejay's vast personal site. His home page, http://michaelbluejay.com/, has links to information on many topics related to the ecofrugal lifestyle, such as bicycling, socially responsible investing, and vegetarianism. I've always found the electricity section the most useful, but exploring the other pages on his site can be both entertaining and informative.
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