Alright, so you have changed your light bulbs, you turn off your lights and unplug your appliances when you are not using them, and you purchase energy star appliances. But, you still want to save more electricity. Here are some additional energy saving tips that can help you stash your bill and environmental impact even further.
In The Kitchen:
Refrigerator: Your refrigerator likely uses the most electricity of any appliance in your home. But, there are many things you can do to help your refrigerator run more efficiently.
-Set your temperature control to 36 to 40 degrees.
- Keep your refrigerator full. A full fridge uses less energy because new items placed in the fridge are also cooled by surrounding items. If you don't have enough food and beverages to fill the fridge, place bottles of water in to fill up the space. The same goes for the freezer. If you can't fill it with food, keep it filled with ice cubes.
-Unthaw frozen foods in the fridge. The escaping cold will help cool the refrigerator.
- Let hot items cool to room temperature before placing in the fridge.
- If you have a freezer that requires defrosting, do so regularly.
- Keep the coils on your fridge clean. Pull out the fridge and dust them regularly.
- Keep food and beverages covered in the refrigerator.
-Don't open the door more than is necessary. Close it right away.
-Place your refrigerator out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources like stoves and heat registers. Also, place your fridge along an external wall so the heat it generates can easily disapate.
-Make sure the gasket (rubber edging on your door) on your fridge is in good shape. If it is coming off, reattach it.
-Make sure the door is tightly closed.
- Chose a burner that correlates to the size of the pan you are using. This prevents excess heat from escaping or from using excess electricity;
-When boiling water, draw the hottest tap water. Your water heater has already used energy to heat it, why use more?
-Turn on the burner when you are about to use it. There is no need to preheat a burner.
-You can usually turn your burner down or off a few minutes before your food is done cooking. The retained heat will finish the cooking process.
- Use the microwave or crock pot instead of the stove whenever possible.
-Unless you are baking bread or pastries, you don't need to preheat your oven. Turn on the oven as you are placing your food in.
- When you are baking, try to bake more then one item at a time. Plan meals for maximum oven usage.
- Don't open the door to the oven while you are baking.
- You can usually switch off your oven a few minutes before your items are done baking.
- When it is cold outside, open the oven door after baking to let the heat escape and help heat the house.
-Use glass or ceramic pans when baking. They retain heat better then metal ones and allow you to lower your baking temperature by 25 degrees or shorten your baking time.
- Use the microwave or crock pot instead of the oven whenever possible.
-Build a solar oven. They can be used year round as long as the sun is out and can reach temperatures of up to 400 degrees.
- Do as much chopping and mixing as possible by hand instead of using food processors and hand mixers. Just about anything that is whipped or mixed by a hand mixer can be done on with an eggbeater. Eggbeaters usually cost less then the hand mixer anyway. Also chop your vegetables and fruit by hand.
- Don't use an electric bread knife. Anything and electric knife can cut, you can cut with a regular knife.
-Don't use an electric can opener. Cans can be opened easily with a hand held can opener which generally cost less then an electric one.
- Make sure you only wash when you have a full load of dishes.
- Wash your clothes using cold water. Many eco-friendly laundry detergents are formulated to work well in cold water.
- Always run your washer with a full load of laundry.
- Don't wash clean clothes. Make sure you get a maximum number of wearings out of your clothes before washing. As a general guideline, consider the following:
Jeans and Pants - wear 5 times before washing
Shirts- wear twice before washing
Underwear and Socks - wear once before washing
Jackets and Heavy Sweaters - wear 10 times or more before washing
Light Sweaters and Sweats - wear 3-4 times before washing
Towels - use 5 or more times before washing
Sheets - use for a month before washing
Tablecloths and cloth napkins - use for a week before washing
Dishtowels - Use twice to dry dishes or for a week to dry hands before washing
- Whenever possible, dry your clothes on a clothesline. Drying clothes outside on the line makes them smell great. I have found that on hot days, putting my clothes on the line actually dries them faster then putting them in the drier. Clothes that get stiff with line drying can be put in the dryer on air fluff for 5-10 minutes to restore their softness.
-When using the dryer, make sure the lint trap is cleaned with each use. A clean lint trap will allow your clothes dryer to operate more efficiently.
- Avoid overloading your dryer. You will only use more energy to get your clothes dry.
- Leave some dry items in the dryer from one load to the next. This will help your clothes dry faster.
- If you have a few items that are not completely dry, run them with the next load or hang them to dry instead of letting the entire load run until everything is dry.
- If you haven't changed your light bulbs to compact florescent bulbs (CFL), do so. They will immediately save 70% of the energy used to light your room. Although they cost more then traditional light bulbs, they pay for themselves many times over in energy savings. Also, there are a variety of shapes and sizes available if you don't like the look of the swirly bulbs.
-If you can not afford to replace all of your light bulbs with CFLs, start with the rooms in your home where you have the lights on the most often: Kitchen, living room, family or TV room, bedroom, bathroom. Finish with the areas where the lights are switched on for only a short amount of time like hallways and closets.
- Turn off the lights when you are watching TV or doing computer work that does not require to you look away from the computer screen.
-During the daytime, open drapes and blinds to use natural light instead of turning on the lights (unless your are letting in excess heat in the summer time).
-Install skylights where it is feasible.
-Set your thermostat no higher then 68 degrees and wear a sweater or jacket.
-Avoid opening windows and minimize opening doors.
-Close registers in rooms you are not using. You don't have to heat those to.
-If possible, turn down the thermostat in bedrooms.
-Turn the heat down or off during the night and when you are away from home.
Cooling: Air conditioning accounts for a substantial amount of home electricity use.
-Set the thermostat to 78 degrees in the summer and wear your light summer clothing. Is there really a need to wear a sweater in the house when it is 100 degrees outside?
-During the summer, open windows and doors at night to fill the house with cool air and close them before sunrise. This will trap the cool air in the house and keep the house cooler during the day. My family has done this for years and has hardly needed to use the air conditioner this summer. We sometimes need to turn on the air conditioner in the late afternoon while our neighbors have their air conditioners running all day.
-Close drapes and blinds on windows that receive direct sunlight in order to avoid letting excess heat in.
-Use fans and ceiling fans to keep you cool.
-Avoid opening windows and minimize opening doors while you have your air conditioner running. You don't have to pay to cool the outside.
-If you have central air, close the registers in rooms you are not using.
-Avoid using the oven during the hottest months of the year. When you do, allow the oven to cool with the door closed.
- Learn to style your hair without the aid of a blow dryer, curling iron, or other small appliances. Talk to your hairstylist about styles and products that will allow you to air dry and go.
- Turn it off when you are not using it.
- Set your computer to go to sleep or standby when it is not being used.
Yard and Garden:
- Use solar yard and garden lights. I have found that these lights are almost always less expensive then conventional lights and have the added bonus of using solar energy. Plus, you don't have the hassle and expense of wiring in the light. That way, the lights can be moved at will.
-Decorate with tin can luminaries and use candles instead of electricity.
-Trim hedges, trees and bushes by hand instead of using electric hedge trimmers.
-Rake leaves and grass clippings by hand instead of using a leaf blower. Not only will you save electricity, you will get a bonus calorie burn.
-Don't use patio heaters. They use as much electricity as space heaters and refrigerators while all of the heat escapes into the outdoors. Instead wear a sweater or jacket.