The goal in living in an off grid home is to manage your use of electricity and to get your household consumption as low as possible to be able to have enough stored energy in your battery bank to last till the next sunny day. LED light bulbs are a 1st step towards saving power, and if you are on the grid, it will save you money on that electric bill. LED bulbs have come down in price greatly, and you can purchase them at any home improvement store. If you don’t need dimmable bulbs, the non-dimmable bulbs are much cheaper. To start saving money on your electric bill, replace the bulbs you use the most first. Then over time replace the others.
But, is it really that much of a difference? You might ask. According to my Tri-metric battery meter, an incandescent 60 watt bulb takes 3 amps of power to run; a LED 40 watt equivalent takes .3 amps of power. That is 1/10th the power on each bulb I use in my home and 1/10th the expense for you to use the lights in your home. But, what about those cheaper more toxic mercury filled fluorescent bulbs? The LED still beats those bulbs by at least 1/2 of the energy use.
We use LED bulbs throughout our home, even the chicken coup has LED bulbs for the ladies. We have the LEDs in our recessed lighting, lamps, and wall sconces. The LEDs we have are 40 watt equivalent. They are plenty bright for the room, but their light is not the yellowish color of an incandescent bulb. The best way to describe the spectrum of a LED light would be to stand by a window on a sunny day in which the sun is not shining directly into the room (a north side of the house window would do it). I actually find the LED light more pleasant than the regular incandescent. However, we do have cream to yellowish lampshade on one of our lamps in our living room ,and the lampshade tints the light’s color enough to make this one lamp feel like it has an incandescent light bulb.
Another good money saving tip, if I was renting a place and wanted to save on my electric bill, I would replace the bulbs in the house or apartment with LEDs; however, I would save the old bulbs in a closet and put them back when I moved, taking my LED bulbs with me to my next place. LED bulbs are an investment and many of them are rated to last up to twenty years or more.
I would like to also point out in the top picture a beautiful Kitchen-Aid mixer, please understand many of us who live off grid have and use modern appliances too. It was funny to learn that the full size Kitchen-Aid mixer uses less power than our smaller hand electric mixer someone gave us during our 1st year of marriage. This is great news; many new appliances on the market are being made to be more efficient and environmentally friendly. Also, in the picture to the lower right is our toaster oven. Granted we don’t use it much in the winter, but during the summer we do, also a great money and energy saving appliance which takes half the power of a conventional oven.
While visiting our local Sears, to purchase parts to repair our Kenmore washing machine, the salesman showed us a refrigerator almost twice the size of our Roper we bought when we moved into our first home, but it takes less than half the power to operate. Customers are demanding products that are more efficient and companies are finally listening and starting to provide them. However, the upfront cost of these energy saving appliances are extremely high, but over the long run it balances out or gives you an economic advantage. If you’re wanting to live off grid, you can’t spare to not purchase some high priced energy efficient appliances, or you will be running that generator far too often and spending much more on gasoline or propane than you intended. We decided to purchase some very efficient appliances upfront, and we are finding our need to run the generator is between 5 or 7 times a year.
There are other money saving appliances I will post in the future in a series covering refrigeration, laundry, entertainment, water systems, and chores around the home.