“Going green” has become an increasingly popular topic over the last year or so, with national attention being given to the subject. Aside from all the hype, though, conserving energy simply makes sense on a personal level. Why use more energy if you don’t need to? And in many cases, saving energy can actually save you money.
Becoming more conscious of your energy consumption doesn’t have to be difficult. There are several simple things you can do around your home to use less energy, specifically in the area of electricity and heating and cooling.
Obviously, turning lights and appliances off when you’re not using them can reduce energy use. But did you know that many electronics, such as computers, televisions and stereos continue to draw electrical power even when turned off? The energy wasted by this constant draw is equal to always having a 100-watt light bulb turned on. Switching to power strips that can completely cut power to an electronic device is one way to reduce your electricity use.
You can also replace your standard incandescent light bulbs with longer-lasting compact fluorescent lamps and consider installing dimmer switches and timers on lighting fixtures. These changes require some initial time and money investment, but they will provide savings in the long run.
Appliances are responsible for 20% of your home’s energy consumption, with the largest users being washers, dryers and refrigerators. Simply switching from hot to warm water for washing clothes can cut in half the amount of energy needed to clean a load of clothes. On the drying end, be sure to clean your lint filter after every load to improve air circulation so that clothes can dry more quickly. Also, be careful not to over-dry your clothes. Use your dryer’s moisture sensor or auto-shut off mode if available.
With freezers and refrigerators, remember to regularly defrost manual defrost models. Allowing more than one-quarter inch of frost of accumulate will decrease the appliance’s efficiency.
Energy-Saving Ideas for Heating and Cooling
One way to check the efficiency of your home’s heating and cooling systems is by performing a home energy audit or hiring to have one done. Look for holes and cracks in walls and ceilings and around windows, doors, electrical outlets, and lighting and plumbing fixtures to make sure air isn’t leaking in or out of your house. Hold a ribbon near every window and door. If the ribbon flutters, there is an air leak wasting energy. Add weather stripping around leaking windows and doors, and caulk other leaks where necessary. Also make sure your home is well-insulated.
Taking advantage of natural light is another way to help regulate the temperature in your home and conserve heating and cooling energy. During the summer, keep blinds closed to keep out warming sunlight. Keep those same blinds open in winter to allow the sunlight in – especially for windows facing the sun.
Similarly, place your air-conditioning unit on the north side of your home and in the shade if possible. A unit placed in the shade uses as much as 10% less energy as one positioned in the sun.
Finally, be sure your air-conditioning and furnace systems are the right size for your home and that they are functioning properly. Wrong-sized or malfunctioning equipment could be costing you valuable energy.