In our previous post, we discussed the important role of energy efficiency in reducing your energy consumption and utility bill. In this post, we share energy conservation strategies to pair with those energy efficiency efforts. Combining the two, you can minimize your energy footprint and power-related spending.
Energy conservation tends to require behavioral change. And you certainly already have enough on your plate with the current daily to-do list. So we have done the homework for you to identify the most effective strategies to implement to enjoy electricity consumption—and cost—savings.
Adjust your day-to-day
Energy conservation can be as simple as turning off your lights or appliances when you don’t need them. You may not have energy efficient devices. However, even using energy-intensive devices less by integrating manual tasks into your routine presents significant potential for utility savings. Two big changes you can make:
- Hang dry your clothes instead of putting them in the dryer. Or at the very least, leverage automatic cycles that sense when clothes are dry versus relying on the timed cycle.
- Wait until your dishwasher is fully loaded to run it. This way you’ll get the most cleaning power for every dollar you spend on water and electricity). Run it during off-peak times for added cost savings.
- Turn off the heated dry option on your dishwasher and crack the door to allow your dishes to dry on their own.
Leverage natural light
A single south-facing window can illuminate 20-100 times its area. Consider using this natural light instead of a lamp. Just turning off one 60-watt bulb for four hours could result in up to $10 a day if you have incandescent bulbs. If you need a lighting boost, opt for task lighting instead of more energy intensive ceiling lighting.
Be Mindful of Your Thermostat’s Placement
Heating and cooling are typically the highest opportunity areas when it comes to energy conservation. Your thermostat serves as your HVAC’s brain, so be mindful of where it is location. In the summer, heat thrown off by electronics can cause the air conditioner to put in overtime. In the winter, if the thermostat is located in an area that catches a draft, your heater will respond accordingly. As will your utility bill.
Lower Your Thermostat
Adopt the habit of lowering the temperature on your thermostat while away from home. Dropping the temp by just three to five degrees will reduce your monthly utility bill and use less energy. According to Energy.gov, lowering your thermostat by 10-15 degrees during the work day will save 5-15 percent per year.
Manually lowering the temperature on your thermostat can yield significant savings. But it can be hard to remember to change it back and forth everyday. Smart thermostats can help you save significant energy and associated costs, minus the headache. Nest found a 10-12% savings on heating and 15% savings on cooling—about $131-$145—per year. Ecobee claims average savings of 23%.
The impact of a smart thermostat will depend on a number of factors:
- The setting you currently keep the heat at,
- Your cost of electricity,
- Your home and HVAC system itself, and
- Seasonal variations.
The ability to schedule heat settings based on your behavior and take control of your heating/cooling bill is quite powerful.
Water heating is a major contributor to your total energy consumption. In fact, heating water can account for 14-25 percent of the energy consumed in your home. Consider turning down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F). You will not only save energy but also avoid a surprise scalding next time you run the faucet!
If you buy a new refrigerator, don’t leave the old one plugged in
Avoid the temptation to use the old fridge as a backup for party supplies and liquid refreshment. The extra storage space will cost you. You can expect an extra $50–150 per year in electricity to keep that older fridge running. In contrast, the new fridge may cost only $30–60 per year to run because refrigerator efficiency has improved so much in the past three decades. The savings will be especially noticeable if your new refrigerator is ENERGY STAR-rated. Under these circumstances, think about how much refrigeration you truly need. Is that extra capacity a must have? Or nice to have? Ideally, aim to have only one refrigerator sized to meet your real needs.
Stay up to date on maintenance
Your appliances will work more effectively for longer if cared for, conserving electricity and saving money. When your air conditioner filters are clogged, you will have to turn it up to achieve the same air temperature. The same applies to dishwashers, clothes dryers, furnaces, the list goes on.
And, before we leave you, dare we say it again? Unplug! Unplug! Unplug! And do it smartly. In our posts on energy efficiency and on phantom loads, we provide specific guidance on smart strips and power strips. Check them out!
Combining these eight energy conservation strategies with energy efficiency efforts, you will be able to minimize your footprint and save money on your utility bill. Let us know how these changes go for you!