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5 Myths about Saving on Energy Costs

5 Myths about Saving on Energy Costs

American residential energy costs have jumped from less than eight cents per kWh at the turn of the century to around 12 cents per kWh this year. With rates on the rise, it’s unsurprising that households want to cut their energy bills. But how do you do it? Read on to learn about common energy savings myths and how to really slash your utility bills.

1. Computer Screen Savers Save Energy

For decades, computer manufacturers have led us to believe that their screen saver modes saved energy. However, the colorful displays take power to run just like any other program.

To really save energy, disable the screen saver and set your computer to enter sleep mode after 10 to 15 minutes of inactivity. As a further energy-saving measure, set your monitor to turn off at the same interval.

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Just remember that sleep mode isn’t a long-term solution. Leave your monitor and computer in this mode overnight and you’ll waste 12 watts of power. Remember to shut your computer down when you finish using it, or set it up to automatically shut down after it sits idle for a set time.

2. When Devices Are Off They Don’t Draw Power

This one is only true if you unplug your gadgets as well. Otherwise your devices will continue to draw what’s called vampire power. This is particularly true of appliances which enter stand-by mode, like televisions and microwaves. It’s no small matter either. Studies suggest “vampire power” accounts for 25 percent of American power bills.

To avoid vampire power draining your wallet, simply unplug each appliance when it’s not in use. Alternatively you could invest in a power strip which cleverly cuts power when you flick its switch.

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3. Closing the Air Conditioning Vent Saves Energy

It seems logical that closing air conditioning vents in unoccupied rooms would cut your electricity prices. However, a study by Lawrence Berkeley National Labs actually found the opposite is true. Energy is consumed at the unit, rather than the vents, so closing your vents simply means the air works harder to escape. During winter, the extra air pressure can reduce air flow across the heat exchange coil and cause damaging compressor problems. In summer, pressurized cold air can create the kind of humid environment that’s the ideal breeding ground for mold and mildew.

Rather than closing vents, consider whether you really need to use your air conditioner. If you’re only using one room, adjusting your clothing or running a portable heater or fan may be enough to create a comfortable environment.

4. Using an Electric Space Heater is Economical

In some cases, it could makes sense to heat just the room you’re in rather than your entire house, but if you’re using power-hungry space heaters this often isn’t the case. That’s especially true if your home is powered by natural gas. Electricity costs between four and ten times more than gas, so running a couple of small heaters can actually cost as much as warming an entire home with gas.

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Rather than using energy-guzzling space heaters, instead try lowering your thermostat a degree or two. You’ll barely notice the change, but it’ll make a significant difference to your power bill. If you do start to feel the chill, bringing out your winter woollies can warm you without piling onto your power bill.

5. Leaving a Light On Uses Less Power Than Switching It Off and On

This common myth assumes that a significant power draw occurs every time a light is switched on. While it was once true that turning lights on and off shortened their lifespan, in modern times the practice has no effect at all.

The best way to cut your energy costs is to simply turn lights off as you leave the room. A traditional light bulb uses 60 watts of energy each hour. This bulb consumes a kilowatt of energy every hour it’s on. That kilowatt costs around 12 cents. It sounds like a small amount, but if you leave just that single light bulb on for 16 hours a day all year you’ll pay $43.80. Leave multiple lights on and the numbers really start to add up.

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If you are forgetful, it’s worth investing in an auto-sensor which will turn off your lights once you leave the room and turn them back on when you return.

So forget the myths and focus on the facts to cut your energy costs.

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Last Updated on July 23, 2019

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut, only to get back into another one.

How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

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  • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
  • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
  • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
  • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
  • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
  • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnation, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help. Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

1. Realize You’re Not Alone

Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths. Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

2. Find What Inspires You

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Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation. What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem. If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

3. Give Yourself a Break

When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

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Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave. Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future. These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

4. Shake up Your Routines

Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’s 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

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When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

5. Start with a Small Step

Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward. Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years. On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

More to Help You Stay Motivated

Here are some resources that will help you break out of your current phase:

Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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