First I have a bit of good news for any one concerned about the accumulation of mercury in the landfills from CFL light bulbs. GE has announced they are phasing out the manufacture of the CFL bulb With the improvements in LED bulbs retailers are seeing CFL sales drop and with the new Energy Star Ratings to change next year, CFL bulbs will have a harder time getting energy star rating. I should note, the GE phase out of the CFL bulb is only in the United States, they will continue to be manufactured and sold abroad.
When I shared the results of energy saving measures over the last year on my home’s electric bill I mentioned that in the bathroom light fixture which can hold 5 light bulbs I have replaced the incandescent bulbs with two LED bulbs, leaving the other sockets empty.
In the comments, Anon shared what she had been told about these multi-light fixtures:
“….regarding light bars with multiple lights, and say a kitchen ceiling with multiple lights on one switch.
— if you do not have all the sockets filled, with all the same watt/size bulb, it creates stress on the “system” of that unit, and can draw more electricity trying to balance, or create stress and overheat it all. I’ve been told if I don’t want to keep all the lights “filled”/working, to put a different fixture in.”
I promised to check into this. I contacted my oldest son who is a licensed electrician and this is what he had to say about leaving empty sockets in a light bar
“It doesn’t have any effect. The light bulb itself is what creates the resistance in the circuit. Without the light bulb no energy is expended into that part of the fixture so you actually save (albeit very little if using an LED bulb). It would be no different than having a quad receptacle box and not plugging something into every spot.”
I’ll paraphrase the rest of our conversation.
People are confused about the electrical current in the home because of the way our appliances and such operate today. Take for instance a light fixture. You plug it into the wall or operate it from a switch. Until the switch is turned to the off position there is current flowing to that light fixture. It is the act of turning the switch to the on position which diverts the energy from running through the wiring of your home uninterrupted to the fixture.
In years past any item that operated on the home’s electrical system had to be turned on or off. Take for instance the television. One had to walk over to the television and turn the knob to turn the television on. It would take a few minutes for the components to warm up and the picture quality to come into focus. Today, our televisions are on standby, using electricity, waiting for the button on the remote to be clicked.
We hear that any kitchen appliance with a clock is drawing electricity, even when not being used. But a better way of determining if an appliance draws electricity is if it has an off/on switch. Take for instance the microwave. Yes, most have a clock, but it also has a touch pad to enter your cooking time. That touchpad would not operate if the microwave did not have a steady current running to it. Now if you could find a microwave that had an on/off switch that had to be flipped before the touch pad worked you would know your microwave was not drawing what we call a phantom load, vampire power or leaking electricity.
It’s this confusion between what items in the home draw electricity and which ones do not that are to blame for the confusion on why we need to unplug our chargers for things like our tablets and phones. People think because the phone isn’t plugged into the charger it’s not using electricity. Take a look at your charger, there isn’t an on/off switch on it which means the current running through the house has been diverted to the cord the minute it was plugged into the receptacle regardless of whether you plug in your electronics or not, leaking electricity and driving up your electrical bill.
A simple solution for hard to reach outlets would be the use of a surge protector which has an on/off switch to turn all your electronics plugged into it off when not in use.
I hope this answers your question on how to reduce your electric bill.