, Gloucester, MA

September 27, 2013

Cheap ways to save on energy costs

Senior Lookout
Anne Springer

---- — October is Energy Awareness Month. As the cold months approach, we naturally start thinking of how to lower our heating costs. But, there are other costs associated with our use of energy, and some may be easy to reduce.

The number of electronic devices we use has grown exponentially in the last decade. Most homes have multiples of some devices, and a varied selection of others. Everything from televisions to cell phones, tablets, computers, and games.

Many of these devices, even when turned off, may be wasting energy. According to EPA’s Energy Star, in the average home, “75 percent of the electricity used to power home electronics and appliances is consumed while the products are turned off.”

So, wouldn’t a device that can help to minimize the cost of running all those other devices seem like a good investment? Turns out, there is such a device. It’s called an APS or “advanced power strip” and it can help save money and energy by reducing standby power consumption. The nice thing is that these are not terribly expensive devices.

According to Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (, these power strips have two types of technologies, Tier 1 and Tier 2. Tier 1 strips have three types of sockets: switched, control, and always on. The switched socket is for devices such as a home theater, stereo, DVD player, printer, etc. Those devices will get shut down when the “control” device (TV, game console, computer) is turned off. The “always on” sockets are for devices that need to always be on, such as the cable or satellite box). Using an APS would immediately reduce the amount of energy that is simply wasted in our homes each day. Tier 2 APS products also address active power consumption, in addition to reducing standby power consumption. A YouTube video is available on how these products are used:

It’s estimated that an average household, using APS technology for home entertainment and home office, would save 75.1 kWh (home entertainment) and 31 kWh (home office) per year. Mass Save is offering discounted pricing on energy-saving power strips (Massachusetts electric customers of National Grid, NSTAR, Western Massachusetts Electric, Unitil or Cape Light Compact. Special pricing is available for a limited time only.) at:

Another low-cost way of developing a lower energy consumption “footprint” across time is the use of CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) or LEDs (light emitting diodes) for lighting. Consumers can save more than 65 percent on energy consumption over halogen or incandescent bulbs with this exceptionally cost-effective change that can be done over time, just by purchasing replacement bulbs in the new technology as the older incandescent burn out. To see how much you could save over the lifetime of just one bulb, see Mass Save’s chart:

October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For every pink-based CFL sold by a participating retailer during October and November, Greenlite will donate 15 cents to the Ellie Fund to help fight breast cancer. Special Thoughts Outlet stores in Salem and Danvers are participating in this effort on the North Shore.

Anne Springer is the public relations director of SeniorCare Inc., Cape Ann’s local area agency on aging. To reach SeniorCare, call 978-281-1750.