Monday, October 4, 2010

9 Ways To Reduce Energy Use

In western North Carolina, the weather has changed a lot in the last week. We went from hot, summer-like days to don't-forget-your-jacket weather ... seemingly overnight. At a community event over the weekend, some of my neighbors and I were discussing electricity bills and ways to lower them. We shared ideas so ... I thought I might share them with you, too. Here they are:

  1. If you have an electric water heater, turn it off. As convenient as it is to have hot water ready when you want it, keeping it hot takes a lot of energy. So, to really cut usage ... beyond turning the temperature down and insulating the tank (which are both effective tools) ... try turning it off. If your water tank doesn't have an on/off switch, turn it off at the circuit box. Then, experiment with how long to keep it on to suit your needs. Keep in mind that it isn't necessary to wash your clothing or your dishes in hot water. We've found that approximately one hour a day, close to when we'll need it, is plenty for our household of two people. One note ... this is for electric water heaters only ... if you have a gas water heater, turn the thermostat down, but don't turn it off.

  2. Turn off the furnace whenever possible and when it's on, keep the thermostat set low. Put on an extra shirt or two. Use blankets while watching TV in the evening. Make use of the tips we shared in 24 Tips for Fall. Get some exercise ... yep, exercise will warm you up.

  3. Do you have rooms which you aren't using? No sense warming them along with the rest of the house. So, close the vents in those rooms and shut the door ... you'll save the cost, and energy, of heating it up.

  4. Use counter top appliances rather than the stove and oven. Items like a toaster oven, crock pot or electric skillet will save a bundle on electricity bills. If you choose to use the oven, turn it off 5 minutes before the dish is done ... there will be enough heat inside to finish cooking your food. And once the dish is removed, leave the oven door open to make use of the heat in the room.

  5. When doing laundry, plan it out so that as soon as one load is finished in the dryer, the next load is ready to go ... this will keep your dryer from cooling down which will shorten the amount of time necessary to dry the next load. And always do full loads ... partial loads are energy hogs.

  6. Open your curtains during the day and close them at night. During the day when the sun shines in, make use of the heat. At night when it gets cool, insulate the room by closing them.

  7. Unplug it when it's not in use. This applies to almost every electrical device in your home. There are some exceptions ... for example, one shouldn't turn off the refrigerator. But TVs, computers, coffee makers, etc. don't need to be plugged in ... especially the ones which have clocks and/or timers ... or anything which has a stand-by light on when the device is turned off. These "phantom" devices use a lot of energy. To make "unplugging" easy, use a power strip ... one click turns all the devices plugged into it off.

  8. Close the windows and doors. This one may seem obvious but there are many people who choose to leave a window open at all times and then compensate by turning the heat up. If having a window open is important, turn the heat off and bundle up.

  9. Do you get chilly while sleeping? Rather than using electric blankets, try using flannel sheets and extra blankets ... you'll get that warm coziness without using electricity.

Now it's your turn ... what are your favorite energy saving ideas for the cool days of fall and winter?

Need a little more incentive to cut energy use? How about this ... since we employed the energy saving methods described above, we've cut our bill by 50%. I don't know about you, but I can think of a lot of ways to use the money we save.

As always ... I would love to hear from you!