With energy costs eating up a larger portion of our income more than ever before, it is very important to take all possible measure to conserve energy. Here are some tips to help you save energy, save money, and do your part for the environment.
Heating and Cooling
About 60% of energy costs in a typical home are tied up in heating and cooling and 20% in hot water. So, these are the first places to look when it comes to saving energy.
Consider installing a programmable thermostat. In summer set the thermostat at 24°C while you are at home, and 28°C when you are away. Every degree you raise can reduce your cooling bill by about 2.5%.
In winter, set the thermostat to 21ºC during the day and to 18ºC when you are sleeping and 15ºC when you are out.
Wrap your electric water heater in an insulation wrap. This reduces 8-10% of hot water heater energy usage.
Apply caulking and weather stripping around drafty doors and windows to keep the cold air out in the winter (or hot air out in the summer). Proper weather-stripping, caulking, and insulation can save 5 to 15% of that heat loss.
Shade your outdoor central air conditioning unit with trees or shrubs making sure you do not block air flow around the unit. This can reduce 10% of your electricity use.
Clean the furnace filter monthly and replace it every three months. Check air vents regularly to ensure nothing is preventing the air from circulating freely.
It's a simple scientific fact: heat moves toward cold. In winter, heat moves toward the windows and doors and if your home windows are not insulated properly, up to 50% of all heat inside a home could be lost. Having thermally-isolated windows and a thick window covering will help reduce heat loss considerably.
Keep fixtures and bulbs clean. Dirt can absorb as much as 50% of the light. Always turn off the lights when leaving a room, even if it’s only for a few minutes. It’s just a myth that it takes more energy to turn a light on than to leave it on.
Try to position floor or table lamps in a corner. This allows light to reflect from the walls, making the room brighter without turning on more lights.
Replace traditional light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL). CFLs use up to 75% less energy than comparable standard light bulbs and can last up to 10 times longer.
Kitchen and Bathrooms
Switch non-essential chores from the peak times to earlier in the day or even overnight when electricity demand and rate is less.
Install water efficient low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators and install an ultra low-flow toilet or an early closure valve. Take showers instead of baths – they use less water.
Keep refrigerators and freezers out of direct sunlight, and allow at least 5 centimeters all around (or as recommended by the manufacturer) to allow heat to escape from the compressor and condensing coil. Allow hot foods to cool before putting them in the refrigerator.
The stove is another big energy guzzler. If you put aluminum foil on the bottom of the oven to catch drippings, make sure the foil does not block any of the oven’s circulation holes and don’t put foil on the oven racks.
Use an electric kettle to boil water – not the stove, which is less efficient. Thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator before cooking, unless the label says otherwise.
Turn off the oven just before finishing – the oven will remain hot long enough to complete the job.
Don’t use a bigger pot than you need, and match it to the right size element.
Home Office and Living Room
Even when appliances are turned off, they continue to draw electricity. Unplug them when not in use. Turn off unnecessary lights in the house (they produce a lot of heat which works against the air conditioning.)
Using screen savers doesn't save any energy. Activate energy saving settings on your computer or turn off your monitor when you are away from the computer.
Use area rugs on cold floors. If your feet are cold, your body will feel cold so rather than turning up the thermostat, put on a sweater.
Open draperies during the day on south-facing windows and let the sun heat your rooms naturally. Close your drapes and blinds during the night to reduce heat loss.
Installing ceiling fans can help to lower energy use in both the summer and winter. In summer, set your fan counter-clockwise to produce a cooling breeze. In the winter, set it clockwise to push warm air accumulated near the ceiling down back into the room.
Dishwashers and Washing Machines
If your dishwasher has the option, choose air drying rather than heat drying. If not, stop the machine before the drying cycle starts and open the door to let dishes air dry. By doing so, you can reduce the dishwasher’s energy use by 10%.
Avoid running small loads in your washing machine. You can save 1% on your energy costs by loading your washing machine to capacity before running the cycle.
Wash laundry in cold water whenever possible. Rinsing your clothes in hot or warm water won’t make your laundry any cleaner. Select your washing machine’s cold water rinse and save 4% in energy costs.
Energy saving is a hot topic! Talk about it with your friends and family. Discuss and share ideas and learn about how each of you can do better. Most likely you will come up with some creative ideas that are fun and can save you up to hundreds of dollars each year. Learn about how this topic fits into broader scale environmental initiatives and the role we as energy consumers could play to save mother earth.