Let’s welcome our new guest writer, a Meister in everything making your home a better place! Bailey, Redfin’s Content Marketing Coordinator, loves writing about all topics related to home ownership from data to dogs and décor. Redfin is a full-service real estate brokerage that uses modern technology to make clients smarter and faster. Knowing this, it felt natural for us to let her talk about all the changes you could make in your facilities for a greener bill!
 But while the economic aspect is surely important, let’s not forget that it also directly concerns the planet: in Europe, for every kWh you use, an average of 350g of CO2 is released in the environment. That’s a direct impact on global warming! You don’t know yet what a kWh is? Well you soon will!

UrbanMeisters was in a chat with Bailey, here is what the expert shared with us!

UM: « Can you explain us quickly what the situation is concerning utilities in our homes ? »
The financial and environmental costs of using utilities add up fast. In many cases – and we’re all guilty of this – we don’t realize how much we’re consuming until the utility bill shows up. In Europe, governments are raising utility prices in an effort to reduce usage. It’s working for the most part, as the average electrical usage in a European home is a third of that in the US and a fourth of that in Australia. However, bills can still get high due to necessary electricity or water usage for some appliances in the home.
Fortunately, there are several in-home tech products that will save you money on your utility bills and help the environment at the same time!
UM: “We know that electricity is a major issue. Can you help us understand better what our bills mean?”
Bailey: Your utility bill is calculated based on how many kilowatt-hours are consumed. A kilowatt-hour, which is a measure of electrical energy equivalent to a power consumption of 1,000 watts for one hour, could power ten incandescent 100-watt lightbulbs for an hour. One kwh costs about $0.12 in the US and an average of € 0,18 in Europe. Check out these tables that compare energy usage and prices for an hour in both the US and the EU!

Smartphone .08 kWh $0.01 .16 kWh  €                                  0.01
Tablet .9 kWh $0.11 1 kWh  €                                  0.09
One LED Lightbulb 1.2 kWh $0.14 .5 kWh  €                                  0.11
Big-screen TV 2.5 kWh $0.30 4.7 kWh  €                                  0.85
Wireless modem and router 7.5 kWh $0.90 3.25 kWh  €                                  0.60
One 60-watt Incandescent Lightbulb 18.3 kWh $2.20 3.7 kWh  €                                  0.67
Desktop Computer 25.0 kWh $3.00 16.8 kWh  €                                  3,02
Refrigerator 29.1 kWh $3.50 24 kWh  €                                  4,32
Washer and Dryer 69.4 kWh $8.33 46.7 kWh  €                                  8,40
Water Heater 416.7 kWh $50.00 23.3 kWh  €                                  4,19

One thing to note is that these tables are a little skewed since a lot of Europe uses gas for heating as opposed to electricity. However, no matter where you’re from, if you know what you’re doing, you can save hundreds of kWh each month by utilizing the latest in-home technology!
UM: “Ok but what can we do about the heating, without freezing in winter?”

  • Smart Thermostat: Smart thermostats are becoming one of the most popular ways to save on utilities. Most are compatible with Google Home, Echo and other in-house automated assistants, and they work by keeping temperature settings consistent. Some have sensors to keep tabs on hot and cold spots in your house, and you can program them to manage the temperatures when you’re at work, on vacation or asleep, so you’re not wasting energy on climate control you don’t need.
  • Motorized Shades: Many motorized shades today allow you to set specific times when they should open or close. This is usually done from an app on your phone regardless of if you are home or not. You will end up saving money by keeping the sun out when it’s hot in the day or choosing to let the light warm up your space. You can also opt for honeycomb shades, which are designed especially for insulation, but any shade or drape with the right spacing will help slash your heating costs.

Average Savings: Between $131 and $145 per year
UM: “And what about the lights? We’re not too fonds of candles…”

  • Smart Lights: Smart lights, like Philips Hue and LIFX, can save you cash through programming, motion detection and remote access to your lights when you’re away from home (so you’ll never have to leave the lights on for two weeks straight while you’re visiting your mother-in-law in Poughkeepsie), but that’s not all there is to it. Smart lights are LEDs, which cost less to operate; running an LED costs only a few pennies, while old incandescent lights cost about 11 times more.

Average Savings: Between $80 and $120 per year
living room-min
UM: “That’s interesting! And for my multimedia station in the living room?”

  • Surge Protectors: Video game consoles and some other appliances use energy even when nobody’s using them, so a conservation-themed surge protector, like the Belkin Conserve Switch Surge Protector, lets you switch things off with a remote. Other types, like ThinkEco, cut down consumption when your plugged-in devices are in standby mode.

Average Savings: Between $60 and $80 per year
UM: “And for our reader with a washing machine at home?”

  • Energy-efficient washers:Although energy-efficient washers are pretty much all you’ll find when you shop, know that certified energy efficient products can help you save cash and water, so you get even more bang for your buck if you pay a water bill. In the US, energy efficient washing machines will carry the ENERGY STAR certification. In Europe, machines are giving an efficiency-rating label ranging from D (which is the worst) all the way up to A+++. If you wash your clothes in warm (not hot) or cold water, you’ll save even more. Typically, an energy efficient washing machine uses 25 percent less electricity than its non-eco-friendly counterparts do.

Average Savings: Between $75 and $125 per year
UM: “Got it! Can you now tell us more about water?”
Most water that we use goes right down the toilet – literally. Toilet flushing and showers are the two biggest culprits when it comes to wasting water, and dishwashers, washing machines and outdoor watering are right behind them. Check out this chart to figure out how much water the average American and European household uses for each action and how much it costs.

Bath 36 gallons $0.14 130 Litres  € 0,25
Shower (10 Minutes) with ordinary shower head 50 gallons $0.20 190 Litres  € 0,36
Shower (10 Minutes) with water-saving showerhead 20 gallons $0.08 70 Litres  € 0,13
Dishwasher (non-ENERGY STAR) 16 gallons $0.06 150 Litres  € 0,29
Dishwasher (ENERGY STAR) 6 gallons $0.02 15 Litres  € 0,03
Toilet Flush (Regular) 3 gallons $0.01 23 Litres  € 0,04
Toilet Flush (low-flow) 1.6 gallons Less than $.01 6 Litres  € 0,01

Other than cutting down on water consumption by investing in energy efficient appliances, doing fewer loads of laundry and taking shorter showers, there are a few devices you can add to your home to drastically reduce your water consumption.
UM: “We’re all ears! Tell us everything we can change in the shower!”

  • High-efficiency faucet aerator: Installing a high-efficiency faucet aerator in your shower and on your taps can cut your water consumption in half. Because they add air, you won’t suffer a loss in pressure.
  • Smart home water meter: Smart home water meters monitor your water usage around the house, allowing you a better understanding of where the water you use is going, as well as how much you’re using. You can use this information to adjust your water usage to save big on utilities.

Average Savings: About $100 per year
UM: “You told us about the toilets before, what can we do about it?”

  • Smart toilets:First, they can help you save water, and second, they can eliminate toilet paper waste – so that means you’re helping the environment in two ways. The EPA states that toilets labeled with WaterSense labels (equivalent to a green on the European Water Label) can reduce water usage by 20-60% and save around 13,000 gallons, or 49210 litres, of water per year.

Average Savings: About $100 per year
UM: “Any special final word for our Meisters in an apartment?”
While almost all these suggestions will also work in your flat, make sure you check with your landlord before you implement any smart technology that requires some level of renovation. Since it adds value to their property, most will be okay with it. However, you should always check with them first.
Feeling like you could change your whole apartment right now? We feel you. And to keep you on this vertuous track, we offer you more! Check out our other articles on the subject.
For another device which might help you shrink your electricity bill by 15%, read this! Luko is a young start up we all cherish in the UrbanMeisters family for their great initiatives. As they say, “At Luko we all share the same ambition of making your nest safer, greener and also cheaper” !
And if you want to go even further, we have the perfect article for you! Written by our Meister guest writer Gareth Walley. It’s everything you need to know if you want to put your housing on a whole new level of energy management!

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