There’s never enough energy to waste! Many environmental savvy consumers are learning how to conserve energy – how to make thoughtful choices about ways use less energy. We all realize how important it is to not waste energy.
Using your high energy demands at “off peak” times will help in balancing overall power consumption on the electrical distribution grid (so as not to over burden the grid system which may create electrical black out periods).
Don’t leave lights on when no one is in the room. If you are going to be out of the room for more than five minutes, turn off the light. If you know of a light that everyone forgets to turn off, make a sticker or a sign to hang next to the switch that says “Lights Out!” or “Don’t Forget!” Where possible, use fluorescent light bulbs. Those funny-looking bulbs produce the same amount of light by using 1/4 of the electricity. Plus, they last for years and years without burning out.
Turn off the TV when no one is watching it. The same goes for computers, radios and stereos – if no one using it, turn it off. Turn off all the appliances at the surge protector/control strip – that four- or six-plug extension chord that you plug all your computer things into. Some devices, like modems or other networking boxes are drawing small amounts of power all the time.
In warm weather (when using air conditioning), set the thermostat to at least 78 F degrees. (Don’t do this, of course, if it will cause health problems for anyone in your family.) When no one is home, set the thermostat at 85 degrees. That way, you’ll reduce the need for air conditioning and you will save energy. If you have ceiling fans or other fans, turn them on. The blowing air can make you feel 5 degrees cooler, without running the family’s air conditioner. Fans use a lot less electricity than air conditioners!
In cold weather, wear warm clothing and set your thermostat no higher than 68 F degrees (health permitting). When you go to sleep at night, set the thermostat even cooler. When you leave home for an extended time, set the thermostat at 55 degrees. That way, your family can save from 5 percent to 20 percent on your heating costs.
Americans tend to use much more energy than necessary to heat their homes. That accounts for a lot of wasted energy! If you have a fireplace, close the damper when you don’t have a fire burning. An open fireplace damper can let 8 percent of heat from your furnace escape through the chimney! In the summer, an open fireplace damper can let cool air escape. It’s like having a window open!
Make a map of your home, and mark all the windows, heating vents, and outside doors. Take a ribbon and hold it up to the edges of the doors and windows. If the ribbon blows, you’ve found a leak! Seal the leak with caulk or weather stripping.
Think about your curtains. Keeping the curtains closed on cold, cloudy days helps block the cold outside air from getting inside. Also, keeping the curtains closed on very hot days keeps the hot air out!
Turn off your electric blanket when you aren’t in bed.
Wasting water wastes energy. Why? Because the biggest use of electricity in most cities is supplying water and cleaning it up after it’s been used!
About 75 percent of the water we use in our homes is used in the bathroom. Unless you have a low flush toilet, for example, you use about five gallons to seven gallons of water with every flush! A leaky toilet can waste more than 10,000 gallons of water a year.
Drippy faucets are bad, too. A faucet that leaks enough water to fill a soda bottle every 30 minutes will waste 2,192 gallons of water a year.
Hot water recirculation systems are designed to eliminate the wait for hot water and conserve that wasted water (which would normally be ran down the drain). Hot water recirculation systems keep a constant supply of hot water in the pipes, circulating the water back to the water heater for reheating. This allows the consumer to have faster hot water whenever it is needed without the wait or waste. This not only saves the energy required to heat ground temperature water (replacing the wasted water down-the-drain), it also saves the average family up to 17,000 gallons of water a year.
Another simple way to save water and energy is to take shorter showers. You’ll use less hot water – and water heaters account for nearly 1/4 of your home’s energy use.
A load of dishes cleaned in a dishwasher uses 37 percent less water than washing dishes by hand! However, if you fill up one side of the sink with soapy water and the other side with rinse water – and if you don’t let the faucet run – you’ll use half as much water as a dishwasher does. Doing the dishes this way can save enough water for a five-minute shower!
If you need to warm up or defrost small amounts of food, use a microwave instead of the stove to save energy. Microwave ovens use around 50 percent less energy than conventional ovens do. For large meals, however, the stove is usually more efficient. In the summer, using a microwave causes less heat in the kitchen, which saves money on air conditioning.
Don’t keep the refrigerator door open any longer than you need to. Close it to keep the cold air inside! Also, make sure the door closes securely. There is a rubber-like seal around the door that you can test. Just close the door on a dollar bill, and then see how easy it is to pull out. If the dollar slides out easily, the door is probably leaking cold air from inside.
Is there an old refrigerator sitting in the garage or someplace else at home? Old refrigerators are real energy hogs! An old refrigerator could be costing your family as much as $120 a year to operate. Remove it or replace it with an energy efficient model…remember that one large refrigerator is cheaper to run than two smaller ones.
Remember saving water saves energy. Use a broom instead of a hose to clean off the driveway, patio or deck – this will save hundreds of gallons of water each year.