Switching to a kettle to heat water does not help save money, but it is better to wash in the morning using cold water. Apps and sites are useful for analyzing consumption and understanding where the greatest efficiency can be achieved.

The rise in electricity rates can hit Chileans’ economy hard. This could translate into increases in bills ranging from 15% to 50%, depending on consumption and the area in which one lives.
There are several measures that can be taken to save energy on a daily basis. Other actions require an initial investment, but which translate into savings in the long term. In all cases, specialists advise creating a strategy focusing on where electricity consumption can be reduced the most, measured in kilowatt hours (kWh). These are some of their tips.

1 The kettle is not always better

In the face of rising prices, some have already made decisions. For example, we asked Mercado Libre for data on sales of traditional kettles (those that are placed on the gas stove): in the last three weeks there has been a 32% increase in sales compared to the average of previous months; meanwhile, the sale of electric kettles has dropped by 8%. But the question is: do you save more by heating water or food with gas or electricity?
According to Felipe Ruiz, head of the Energy Transition Center (CTE) of the University of San Sebastián (USS), electromagnetic induction cookers – coil and glass surface – “are cleaner and more efficient than gas cookers, since they do not heat the surrounding air, but only the surface of the pots, kettles or pans.”

Regarding the use of the kettle, measurements have been made in which the gas kettle consumes three to six times more energy than an electric kettle. “It depends a lot on the kettle; the surface in contact with the flame and the heat that is lost to the environment in the process,” explains Héctor Chávez, director of the Department of Electrical Civil Engineering at the University of Santiago.

According to his calculations, to boil a cup of water (200 cc) about 0.02 kWh of heat is needed, which translates into $3.2 of electricity. On the other hand, for the kettle the prices range from $3.6 to $6.2 in the worst case. “For these prices, electricity is more convenient,” he concludes.

2 Use apps and devices to understand your consumption

For $19,000 you can buy a device that measures the consumption of each electrical appliance. It works like this: you plug it into the outlet and then the appliance you want to measure, for example, the electric oven, is plugged into the meter. This way you can know your consumption in each use or during a month, for example.
“In principle, they work, but the important thing is to know how to interpret the value of kWh that it delivers,” says Chávez. With this information and the price of kWh in your commune, you can know how much the appliance consumes and, if you do monthly measurements, know what percentage of the total bill it represents.

There are also apps like “Electric Consumption Calculator” (free), in which the user enters their appliances detailing the Watts they consume, the number of them in the home, the time they use them and, finally, the kWh rate in their area. This way, they can make an estimate of their bill and become aware of where they can save more.

For iOS, there is the “Calculator (energy costs)” application, whose way of entering the data is similar to the previous one.
The TopTen.cl site is a tool “where the consumer can consult the most energy-efficient products and equipment on the Chilean market,” say its creators. It is organized according to categories such as, for example, refrigerators, televisions, microwaves, washing machines, etc. In each one of them you can review the models available in the Chilean market and a comparison of their energy consumption, detailing how much their use would cost monthly.

On the web, some electric distribution companies have calculation tools and tables to understand the consumption of the different electrical appliances. For example, Enel has a table with the consumption of the most used electrical appliances in a home in which, in addition, they calculate the monthly expense according to the time of daily use.

3 Study what you heat with

“On average in Chile, a little more than 50% of the energy in a home is consumed in heating and air conditioning, 20% in hot water, 5% in refrigerating food and another 5% in cooking. The rest is in other appliances and lighting,” says Claudio Seebach, dean of Engineering and Science at the Adolfo Ibáñez University.
In the south, firewood is the most commonly used fuel for heating, but in the north-central region, other alternatives are used, where electricity is one of them.

“Devices such as fan heaters, which operate with an electric resistor, should be avoided at all costs, since they are not very efficient. One unit of electricity is transformed into one unit of heat and, therefore, they consume a lot of energy,” says Seebach.
“If we have these cheap electric heaters, such as fan heaters, it is better to heat with paraffin or gas,” says Chavez. But the most energy-efficient solution is split-type air conditioners (those that are installed), although their initial cost is higher (around $500,000, although they serve to cool and heat).
Among them, the inverter type are more efficient, because they modulate energy better, unlike the on/off ones, which simply turn off when they reach the desired temperature.
Their efficiency is given by the fact that they use “heat pumps” that are four times more efficient than a conventional electric heater. That is, they would spend a quarter of what a fan heater spends, for example, to heat the same space.
Seebach gives other tips related to heating: insulate the house, especially the roof, doors and windows. “And don’t heat too much, 20 °C or 21 °C are more than enough for thermal comfort.”

4 The refrigerator is key: it is always working

If we only take into account the electrical consumption of an average home in Chile, 20% is due to the refrigerator, since it is always

In this sense, “you have to prioritize the choice of high-efficiency appliances,” says Ruiz. “If you are considering buying a new appliance, you should always make sure that its efficiency is A, A+ or A++,” he adds. A D refrigerator (the most inefficient) could use twice as much as an A++ one. Chávez says that placing the refrigerator where the sun does not hit it directly also saves energy, in addition to not placing hot food inside it. Ruiz, meanwhile, says that you should avoid opening the refrigerator door, especially for long periods.

5 Wash in the morning and with cold water

Planning your washing is key. It is good to do it in the morning, so that when you hang up the clothes, you can make the most of the day. “On a cloudy and cold day, the clothes will dry anyway. Even in northern European countries they have rooms where they put clothes to dry,” says Chavez. This avoids using the dryer excessively, which is one of the appliances that consumes the most energy, since it generates air between 50 °C and 60 °C.
Chavez says that programming the washing machine with hot water is also a waste of energy. “Currently, laundry detergents are formulated to wash with cold water.”
In addition, the specialist explains that you should wash a full load if possible. “There is not much difference in electricity consumption between washing a full load or a half load. Therefore, washing two half loads is much less efficient than washing everything in one load.”

Courtesy of El Mercurio.