Every household’s small changes can really add up to big energy savings. You may feel that turning off a light in your house won't have an impact, but when millions of households do the same, we are reducing the energy needs of the nation.
And as a side bonus, each of these can save you money, too!
Here are some easy steps to help use your utilities smartly:
- Insulate your water heater, and check that the thermostat is set to 120°F. Some heaters are set to 140°F, which costs more and poses a risk of scalding. Consider solar panels for hot water: small installations that are used to heat water pay for themselves quickly and don’t take up much roof space. Or consider installing Insta-Hot units at hot water access points to save the energy needed to maintain a hot water supply.
- Turn the lights off when you leave a room, and then take the extra step—turn off electronics and unplug chargers. Most electronics go into a standby mode that still draws power. Unless the machine is performing needed functions during standby, you can use switched power strips and turn off the power to items when you are done with them. (A laser printer left on standby will use 60 kilowatts a year!) Turning off electronics helps reduce the risk of electrical fire as well.
- In the summertime, set your thermostat to 77° or 78°F. Your AC won’t kick on as often, and you will still remove the humidity from the air that creates that stifling feeling. Most people don’t start sweating until temperatures are above 78°, but if that is too warm for you, experiment to see how high you can keep your setting.
- In the winter, see how low you can go before feeling chilly and set the thermostat there. Use programmable features if you have them—temperatures can be set lower while you are at work or sleeping and raised in time for dinner or the alarm clock.
- Wash your car at the carwash. It may be a great chore for the kids, but the waste water will carry detergents into waterways along with chemical residue from your vehicle. Carwashes re-use water and capture the detergents—it’s much better for the environment, and you can save your elbow grease for another project.
- Take full advantage of moisture sensors in your dryer. Most models made in the 2000s have sensors that allow for the shortest dry times. (This applies to electric powered dryers too!) If you can, line dry.
- Landscape for your climate. Plants are rated by zone, and plantings in their native zones are more likely to thrive with less special care such as extra watering, fertilizing, or pesticides. If your yard is less than a quarter acre in size, try a manual push reel mower.
- Check Energy Star ratings when you purchase new appliances and electronics. Reduced electricity consumption over time should be factored into the cost of the appliance.
If you are interested in home improvements that will help save energy, make sure to check out suggestions and resources provided by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Department of Energy. Also, electricity usage monitors like Kill A Watt, Watts Up?, and TED (The Energy Detective) can provide further insight about your electrical use.
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