Most people are aware of the little things that can be done to save power, like turning off lights when leaving a room or shutting down the computer every night. A lot of consumers are also aware of major energy-saving changes they can make, like installing solar power. There are, however, a lot of mid-range ways to save a significant amount of power without busting your budget or drastically altering the way you live.
Tip #1 Control Cooling. Cooling accounts for a lot of home energy use, but turning up the thermostat can make your home uncomfortably warm. One way to offset this is better circulate the air. Air conditioning used in conjunction with standing fans and ceiling fans can allow you to set the thermostat at a higher temperature but still feel cool. Another option is to purchase smaller air conditioning units, such as a portable air conditioner or wall mount unit. Put them in the rooms you use most to keep those areas at a refreshing temperature. Extra tip: Keep your filters clean, otherwise your air conditioner cannot work properly and you’ll use more energy without getting more cold air.
Tip #2 Help Your Heater. As with cooling, adjusting the thermostat can help save power; even a couple degrees can make a difference in your energy use. What many people don’t know, however, is that fans can actually help keep your home warm! Warm air rises, keeping cold air closer to the floor. This means you use a ton of energy just heating the ceiling! By using fans, you can circulate the warm air down into your living space. Another energy-saving trick is to use space heaters in the areas where you spend the most time or near areas where cold air might seep into your home.
Tip #3 Tend to Your Water Tank. Something simple you can do is to make sure your water tank is set properly. Water over 54 degrees Celsius (130 degrees Fahrenheit) is not only a waste of energy, water that hot can cause burns. You can also help your water tank work more efficiently by covering it with thermal blankets made specifically for this purpose. Another great tip: when you’re going out of town, turn your water heater off. There’s no sense keeping water hot when no one is going to use it.
Tip #4 Wash in Cold Water. As the above tip indicates, water heaters need a lot of energy. Simply choosing a cold wash cycle over warm or hot can save you tons of power and money, plus your clothes actually benefit. Hot and warm water causes bright colors to fade more quickly, and can often lead to the yellowing of white garments.
Tip #5 Replace Your Washing Machine. Have an old top-loading washing machine? These models are notoriously inefficient, wasting both power and water. They also remove less water from clothes during the spin cycle, meaning the dryer has to run longer to dry items. Front-loading washing machines are more efficient in every way. If you must have a top-loader style, upgrade it. Modern versions have many more water and energy-saving features than old models.
Tip #6 Mind Your Windows. Did you know you can lose between 20% – 30% of heating or cooling through your home’s windows? Extreme energy-savers often cover their windows with black plastic, but you don’t have to go quite that far. Heavy, thermal curtains can keep inside temperatures steady. Open them only when you’re in the room and want natural light, then close them again when you leave.
Tip #7 Decrease Drying Time. Purchase a dryer with a moisture sensor. Old dryers keep going until the cycle ends, regardless of whether or not the clothes are dry. Modern dryers with moisture sensors can detect when the clothes are dry, and will automatically turn off. A new, energy-efficient dryer with a moisture sensor is relatively affordable and you can make up for the cost over the long term through savings on your power bill. Another tip: clean the lint screen every time. A clogged lint screen is not only a fire hazard, it makes the dryer run less efficiently.
Tip #8 Upgrade your Refrigerator. If you can only afford to replace one appliance, make it the refrigerator. Refrigerators are big energy users because they have to run continuously. Look for a well-made model with a good Energy Star rating; this is one of those times quality makes a huge difference. In the meantime, turn your refrigerator to as low a setting as possible and put items that need more cooling, such as dairy or meats, towards the back of the fridge where they’re less vulnerable to temperature changes from opening the door.
Tip #9 Embrace Small Cooking Appliances. If a small kitchen appliance will do the job, use it. Slow cookers, microwave ovens, rice cookers, countertop grills, waffle irons and the like use far less power than your stove or oven. This is because you’re essentially only heating a small space and that heat is going directly to the food rather than escaping into the air.
Tip #10 Get an Induction Cooktop. Induction cooktops are extremely efficient. They work by magnetic properties to heat only the pan, and only when it comes in contact with the surface of the cooktop. This means less heat loss, which translates to power savings. Can’t afford an entire cooktop? There are single-burner induction plates you can purchase and use instead of your stovetop for small cooking tasks.