Earth Day, which originated on April 22, 1970, began as a concept to save Mother Earth. Many people overlooked the importance of saving Mother Earth for future generations, merely dismissing the concept as a bunch of hippie types running around in earth shoes whom were referred to as “tree huggers”. Well, this sure stereotyped these folks, and, if you were around back in those days, you must recognize now that they knew what they were talking about. You cannot continue to use and abuse our resources without it coming back to haunt us, as a homeowner, or as a nation.
We have become savvier since that first Earth Day about not leaving our carbon footprint. We’ve taken measures to ensure that our world will be a safer place for our children and grandchildren, by reducing landfills and treating nature with respect.
Perhaps as a nation we have become more energy conscious at home as well. You know that it behooves you to become more energy conscious for Mother Earth as well as to put more money in your piggy bank. That sounds like a winning combo to me!
Below is a checklist of ideas to conserve energy by using less electricity in your home. There are simple suggestions and more elaborate (and costly) suggestions. But, considering the amount of money you will save in the long run, they are well worth the effort.
How many of these measures to you practice?
Turn off the lights
I’ll just bet your mom hounded you back in the day about shutting the lights off when you left the room. You probably replied that you were going back in a few minutes and whereupon a squabble ensued about the benefits of leaving the lights burning rather than turning them off and on, then off and on again. These conversations went on in every home – maybe even now. Today, you can even purchase motion detector switches, so that sensors trigger the lights to go off automatically when you leave the room – no more arguments. I think Mom would really like that idea. She was right by the way – you can save 2% of your electrical bill by just shutting off the lights.
Replace incandescent lights with CFL lights
Those curly-Q light bulbs have been around for a while now and some people still cling to their old-fashioned incandescent bulbs. Perhaps you even stockpiled those incandescent bulbs when it was rumored they would no longer be available. The CFL bulbs now come in a wide variety of options and you can choose the degree of light you want, like soft pleasing warm tones versus a stronger more-white light bulb for tasks or reading. The CFL lights are more costly, but they can last anywhere from 7-10 years depending on the wattage, size, and, of course, the amount of time the bulb is on. They are cool lights, no – not just that curly-Q shape, but they will not overheat specialty lamps such as Tiffany-style with their metal inserts, nor burn out wiring on existing lamps. They are always cool to the touch. The biggest advantage to using CFLs is that you save anywhere from 70% to 90% on your electricity bill. Use of three-way light bulbs helps increase your savings, by simply clicking to what wattage you want depending on the task you will be doing. They are widely available now, i.e. not just in specialty lighting stores.
This is also a wonderful way to cut down on your electrical usage in rooms that you prefer limited lighting at some portions of the day, with the option to turn up the lights on an as-needed basis.
Does the warm weather air conditioning bill leave you breathless? Well, you know that you simply cannot exist without cooling your home off in some fashion. Table or floor fans or opening the window simply will not do the job in the extreme heat. So, another great option for bringing cool air into your rooms without expending much electricity is the use of ceiling fans. They’ll keep you cool during the those sticky Summer months, and, if you need to use the furnace during those colder months, simply turn the fan to run clockwise, thus sweeping the warm air rising up to the ceiling back down into the room. Using ceiling fans on a regular basis will save you 19% off your energy bill.
Use a programmable thermostat
It is so tempting to just leave the thermostat set the same temperature 24/7 but if you were to expend that effort to install a programmable thermostat you can maximize the use of your cooling and heating system. Simply program the thermostat to turn itself off or down while you are away at work or sleeping and look to find a savings of around 10%!
Doing away with the dryer for some drying tasks
Your dryer is a workhorse, drying load after load of your wringing wet clothes and helping to make you look presentable without the need for an iron. But, while that works well for permanent press clothing, some clothing will suffice with a quick tumble dry or no tumble dry at all, but instead resorting to the old-fashioned concept of the clothesline. Your mom used it, and your grandmother as well – so why not you? Did you know that air drying your clothes, as opposed to putting them in the dryer can save you as much as 9% on your electrical bill?
Air dry dishes
If you can do away with the clothes dryer and still not look like you slept in your clothes, imagine saving another 3% on your electrical bill by air drying your dishes. You’re already conserving water by using a dishwasher as opposed to washing dishes by hand, but if you use the drying cycle of your dishwasher you are wasting energy and money. Skip the drying cycle – let your dishes air dry.
Biggest electrical hog in the home
If you thought it was the big-screen TV that is on multiple hours during the day, well… you are wrong. It is the fridge. Did you know that the refrigerator is one of the biggest energy-users in your home? Especially if it was built before 1993. The newer refrigerators are more energy friendly. But you can take measures to keep your fridge running smoothly and in doing so, save up to 4% off your electrical bill by: 1) cleaning the coils at least every six months and 2) keeping jugs of water in unused spaces to hold in the cold. The latter is an excellent idea, especially in the summer months, when electrical storms can pop up and possible power outages will threaten a fridge full of food.
These are some wonderful ideas to get you started on conserving electricity in the home. If you try these measures and still find your bill a little high, you might consider consulting with a licensed electrician. He or she can do an electrical audit and determine if there is a phantom load – something that sounds ominous, but it is just an appliance or device that is doing some serious draining of your electricity and causing the whopper bills.