Most people consider summer to be the time of year when they can expect their energy bills to increase dramatically. While this may be true in a number of cities, states and countries, what you may not realize is you could be being victimized by energy vampires or making simple mistakes which are in turn causing you to waste energy.
Take air conditioners for example. In a lot of places, as soon as the weather gets too warm, air conditioners and swap coolers go on. The same is true in the winter months — once the cold temperatures set in, the heat comes on. Unless you have a wood- or gas-burning system, or you are using home heating oil to heat your home, you’re likely using electricity to keep you and your family comfortable. Although nothing is wrong with you doing so, it is important you be smart about your energy use. Are there ways you can safely lower your energy consumption? Are there actions you can take to cut costs without having to fork out a large investment in a source of renewable energy?
While investing in renewable energy such as solar, wind or hydro-electric power, is a wise decision as it will help you become more self-sufficient and lower your energy bills, we have a few simple, energy-saving tips you can use starting right now:
1. In warmer weather, set your thermostat to 78 degrees Fahrenheit or higher when you are at home, at leave it around 85 degrees F when you are away. This way your air conditioning is unlikely to kick in while you are out of the house, and it will only kick on while you are in the house if the indoor temperature gets too warm. During the colder months, set your thermostat to 68 degrees F or higher when you are at home, and 56 degrees F when you are away.
2. Clean out your air vents and heating ducts to make for more optimal operation. Doing this one step can help save a lot of money on energy costs and prevent your system from becoming overworked.
3. Keep windows and doors closed when the A/C or heater is on. If you are going to use energy to cool or heat your home, don’t waste that energy by leaving windows and doors open. It would also be wise to check for any spaces around windows and under doors where air could be escaping. If you find any, get hole caulked and gaps filled so as to minimize the amount of cold or warm air that is being allowed to leak out.
4. Open windows in early AM and evening if you want to allow your home to cool down naturally. Instead of keeping your A/C on all day, you can use nature to help cool your house down. During the winter, your home should be opened up periodically to lower indoor air pollution levels.
5. When you exit an area or leave a room, be sure to turn off all devices, radios, TVs, DVRs, and lights. These do not need to be on when you are not there, as all it will do is suck up energy for no reason.
6. An even better solution to turning off would be to unplug any devices and appliances not in use. When you’ve finished using the toaster or blender, unplug it. Same goes for the radio or your computer. Keeping items plugged in will allow them to continue to suck energy, even when not in use. This is what is referred to as vampire energy.
7. During the day, turn off your lamps and room lights. Let the sun provide you with the indoor light you need.
8. Only operate your washing machine and dishwasher when you have a full load, and opt for cold water settings. If you are able to do so, we recommend air drying both dishes and clothes as a simple way to lower energy costs and save money.
9. Do your cooking and household chores in the early morning or evening during the warm, summer months (after 7pm) when it is not as hot outside. This activities add additional heat to your home, which while this may be good during cold, winter months, is not advised during the summer. In winter, cooking and doing certain types of chores can actually help heat your home and keep you warm.
10. Use energy-efficient light bulbs throughout your home. These are relatively cost-effective and can help save quite a bit of money in the long run.
While these are by no means all of the ways you can begin saving energy starting right now, these will get you off to a good start. You can also talk to your energy provider about getting a smart meter installed, if you don’t have one already. Once you have implemented these, take a look around your home and find other ways you can conserve energy so as to lessen the impact on your wallet and the environment as well.
Living room image by Tony Unruh, thermostat image by Megan Sparks, open windows image by storebukkebruse, dishwasher image by Chalon Handmade, and light bulbs image by Anton Fomkin, all via Flickr Creative Commons license.