Energy Success Stories
Kehau and Mike Romero show us how taking small steps to conserve energy in their home led them to change their lifestyle completely, and the real reason they believe in clean energy.
Created by Blue Planet Foundation (2014).
Like most pessimists, I wasn't convinced that making small changes in my life could save me energy or money. I was wrong . . . whaaat, did I say that? I changed all my light bulbs in the house to CFLs and immediately saw savings in my next electric bill. So I took it a step further and turned off or unplugged any unused electronics. Again I was shocked when I saw my electric bill go down. Now I'm a believer.
— Anna K., Hauula, Oahu
We keep the use of our clothes dryer to a minimum and started hang-drying our clothes. We make sure our solar water heater is working effectively and efficiently. We turn off lights in rooms that aren't being used. Everyday changes lower our electricity bills by $30-$50 a month . . . and that adds up!
— Elisa L., Honolulu, Oahu
I made a vow to cut back on spending and commit to being energy-efficient. My electric bill needed a "face lift", so I unplug things that aren't in use, and turn off the TV and unnecessary lights. I decided to be smart about my daily electric consumption. In the first month, I saw a $20 reduction in my electric bill.
— Denise L., Kealakekua, Hawaii
Our family has taken several steps to keep our energy usage down. Aside from switching to CFLs and LED lights, we turn lights off when not in use. We lowered the temperature setting on our hot water heater and installed a timer. I put up a clothes-line and use Hawaii's beautiful sunny days and cool trade winds to dry our clothes. Our savings have been well over $40 a month.
— Joanne B., Honolulu, Oahu
To save energy and money, I put my computer charger and entertainment system on a power strip. Every time I leave the house or have no use for them, I turn the switch off. I also installed light dimmers – they set a great mood when turned down and save me money.
— Mason A., Kailua, Oahu
Our condos were recently metered for individual units, so I can now track my electricity usage. The first great reduction came when I replaced my old refrigerator with a new, energy-efficient model. Smaller savings have come by unplugging appliances when not in use and by turning off the power strip to my computers and TV every night, and especially when I travel out of state.
— Merle S., Honolulu, Oahu
Stopping "electricity vampires" doesn't involve garlic – use a "smart strip" to cut off power to standby devices when the main device isn't in use. I use this for my home theater system so when the TV is off, it turns off power to the DVD player, audio receiver, video game console, speakers and subwoofer.
— Rob M., Pearl City
Our electricity on Molokai is very high. At a recent agricultural fair, I got an estimate for installing solar-powered electricity. I had already purchased an ENERGY STAR® refrigerator, so I thought I would take the next step and see how installing solar would lower our electric bill and reduce the carbon footprint on our environment. We installed a ten-panel solar-powered system. Now, our bill is only about $17, which is just the cost of hooking up to the electric grid. That was fast!
— Stefanie B, Kaunakakai, Molokai
Use power strips on all your major appliances in the kitchen, living room and bedrooms. When you leave, just unplug the outlet so they are not continuously draining power for the 8-10 hours a day you aren’t home!
— Steph W., Aiea, Oahu
My wife and I moved into a great rental property not too high up the mountain and we were fortunate enough to have AC, we thought. Our electric bill for the first two months was over $800. We bought four box fans and started going for walks in the evening when the sun beats in our windows. We cut our electric bill by half!
— Trevor H., Kailua Kona, Hawaii
We followed most of your suggestions on how to save energy, and our electric bill was proof that they work – we pay no more than $80 a month. We only use the lights in the rooms we are in, use the sunshine to dry the laundry, and turn off all appliances when not in use. When I bake, I try to do it all on the same day so the oven stays hot between temperatures. Mostly, we’re more conscious of the electricity we use and try not to use too much of it.
— Fran S., Naalehu, Hawaii
My electric bill averaged about $200/month for the last year, and my family started by being mindful–turning lights and televisions off when not in use. It reduced our bill by $10-$15/month, but it wasn't enough; I knew we were paying for more energy than we were actually using. The more I wondered how we could reduce our electric usage without sacrificing our lifestyle, it came to me: even if something is turned off, energy still gets used when it is plugged into the wall! So instead of just turning things off, I decided to unplug most things when we left for work in the morning and at the end of the day. My bill dropped from $200 to $130!
— Jen E., Kihei, Maui
This summer I noticed that the electric bill for our single-family home had quietly crept up to about $290/month. We have an electric water heater, but our landlord didn’t like the idea of installing solar water heating since the house is old & we just re-did the roof. With 3 kids in the house & plenty of showers, laundry and dishes, I figured I had to tackle the hot water issue first, so I went to the local hardware store, picked up a water heater timer & installed it. It took only about 1-2 hours to install, & 2 months later the bill had dropped to about $250! That alone almost paid for the switch! I felt encouraged, and installed CFLs & dimmable LED bulbs for the entire home and yard. Another two months later, the bill is now around $220. Tada!
— Laurens L., Honolulu, Oahu
My household consists of 8 people, and my sister and I are both single mothers of 3 w/fixed incomes. With energy costs on the rise, I had to assess our living situation and make adjustments, learning as I went along. We have kept our electric bill under $200 by:
Replacing all incandescent bulbs with CFLs. I participated in a program at my daughter’s school that allowed me to exchange my incandescent bulbs for CFLs at no cost to me.
Limiting the use of our 2 ceiling fans since they aren’t energy efficient. For light, instead of 4 bulbs in each fan, two are sufficient for us during the evening, and natural sunlight provides our lighting during the day. For cooling, we use oscillating fans at night.
Unplugging EVERYTHING (besides the refrigerator and stove) when not in use. I learned about phantom loads by reading the HECO Energy Tips & Choices guide book, and it really worked in reducing my electric bill.
Purchasing an energy-efficient refrigerator – the rebate programs helped! I’m working on replacing my stove and microwave as well.
With no cable, the kids spend more time outside playing. Computer usage is limited. My solar water heater is maintained. Clothes are hung to dry. We wash dishes by turning on and off the water during rinsing instead of leaving running. Showers are taken by turning the water off and on to soap and rinse instead of letting it run. I also installed water saving toilet flusher. Quick meals are prepared instead of using the oven.
— Marla C., Ewa Beach, Oahu
When we purchased our home, it was a fixer-upper with high energy costs. As our older appliances needed to be replaced, we chose newer, more energy-efficient models. We even made money through the rebates from Hawaii Energy! We chose a high-efficiency washer, which not only allows me to wash more clothes at a time, but dry clothes faster due to the powerful spin cycle. I save even more money if I wash in cold water and hang-dry most of my clothes. Other energy-saving things we’ve done include: installing a tankless water heater with a programmable thermostat, using power strips for our computer and TV, and changing to CFL bulbs. Most of all, I’ve planted small trees and bushes around our home to keep it cool and green. We had a free energy audit from Kanu Hawaii, which helped us find ways to lower our electricity bill, and I’m constantly looking for more inexpensive ways to reduce, reuse and recycle.
— Julianna L., Kailua, Oahu
In 2008, I looked into getting PV, it was too expensive. I then learned about energy efficiency from HawaiiEnergy.com and started applying what I found. I switched to LED lights where possible, removed our central A/C, installed a whole house fan and variable speed pool pump. I replaced my electric water heater with a heat pump, and purchased ENERGYSTAR® appliances & ceiling fans. We also stopped buying bottled water and installed a whole house water softener/filtration system. We haven't gone PV yet, but we will soon! The part I like the best is that we lowered our HECO bill enough to offset the amt of miles we drive with our 2 electric vehicles. It’s like we traded lightbulbs & a water heater to not have to go to the gas station anymore. I am now looking into aquaponics, CGNF, compost worms &I have hens and eggs!
— Wes W., Honolulu, Oahu
I moved into a townhouse with an 8 year old refrigerator. I had the intention of replacing it later, but I found out Hawaii Energy offered a rebate for refrigerators, so I bought one. A few months later, my electric bill really reflected the purchase – it used to hover around $200, but dropped to $149. My kWh/day usage is the lowest it’s been since I moved in; from an average of 17.49 kWh to around 14.12 kWh. The rebate of $125 plus the additional savings of $40 to $50 per month means this refrigerator will pay for itself in about 3 years.
— Richard R., Kaneohe, Oahu
Our family is committed to living a greener lifestyle, primarily by saving electricity in our home. We purchased an ENERGYSTAR® refrigerator, and also use small appliances such as a toaster oven and small griddle rather than our stove. We unplug smaller chargers when not in use to eliminate ghost power and have our larger items on a power strip for quick shut-down of equipment. We keep lights on timers indoors and out. In our garage, we have an ENERGYSTAR washing machine and have reduced the number of loads of wash we do each week. (Not an easy task with two teenagers!) We’ve replaced incandescent bulbs with CFL bulbs and keep our house cool with ceiling fans and tinted windows. Finally, we installed a PV system to complement our existing solar water heater system. Most importantly, we’ve learned that every room in our home has the potential to save electricity whether it is a small or big step.
— Rena R., Mililani, Oahu
To determine high energy use devices, I use an energy monitoring unit on all sockets through the house. I replaced ALL light bulbs with CFL's or LED's, and use power strips to turn off TV's, computers, and other electronics when not in use. I wash dishes by hand instead of using a dishwasher, hang clothes instead of using a dryer, and use ceiling fans and open windows instead of an A/C unit. I purchased new appliances with an ENERGYSTAR® rating and turn off lights, TV's, and fans when a room is not occupied.
— Steven B., Kamuela, Hawaii