An easy way to make more money available every month is to address your energy use, and therefore your monthly electric bill. Here is a list of 10 ways I have personally addressed my power consumption that are easy to implement and have a large impact on costs:
- Control heating and cooling. If you live in any climate where the outside temperature is higher or lower than indoors, you will have costs associated with heating or cooling. Use an electronic, programmable thermostat to control the temperature when no one is home. Consider installing ceiling fans, which use a fraction of the energy but provide an equal amount of cooling (moving air always feels cooler than still air). Finally, consider turning your thermostat up or down to use less energy. You may not even notice the difference.
- Turn things off. Do you turn off the lights when you leave a room? Is the TV running even if no one is watching it? Be conscious of how energy is consumed in your home and make it a point to turn off everything that’s not in use.
- Mind your vacations. When leaving on long trips (anything more than a day), create a checklist for yourself of items to turn off. For example, the water heater will use energy while you’re gone to keep your water hot. But without anyone home to take a shower or wash the dishes, the power is going to waste. If your electronics are on a power strip, hit the master switch on the way out the door. This ensures you turn off everything and prevents the slow “power bleed” that occurs even when appliances are supposedly “off.”
- Sweat the big stuff. Much of the energy-saving advice out there concerns itself with the small things. If you are looking for noticeable results, you need to know what the big things are. Take a home energy survey with your local power company to determine the biggest portions of your electric bill (in Florida, that happens to be air conditioning), and target your efforts in those areas for the most impact.
- Use things for their intended purpose. For example, the dishwasher in your house is meant to clean your dishes quickly and efficiently, with as little water and energy as possible. Don’t do double work by scrubbing down and pre-washing dishes in the sink. You are using more water and energy and getting the same results.
- Control how energy enters and leaves your home. In the summer, control heat gain by observing the way solar energy enters your home (primarily through windows). Take steps to prevent unwanted heat gain by using dark curtains when you are not home, or installing exterior shading devices on the most vulnerable exposures. In the winter, ensure that you home is ready to store heat inside. Check your home’s insulation and vulnerable spots, such as window openings.
- Make your lighting energy efficient. Count up all the bulbs in your house and take a trip to your local hardware store. Buy a bulk package of compact fluorescent bulbs and replace everything in your home. Not only will you save money on the power bill, but you won’t have to replace a bulb for years.
- Adjust your energy habits. Have you ever noticed that the sweetest things in life rarely involve the TV, a video game, or the home computer? Instead of spending the night on the couch, take your wife and kids to the park, or read a book on the porch. You will save energy and “unplug” from the world at the same time.
- Use daylighting when possible. To avoid energy used to provide light, use natural light whenever possible. Instead of reading in a dark room, sit by the living room window instead. Companies now even make daylighting “tubes” that capture light on the roof and bring in into any room of the house using mirrors. This is a great alternative to indoor lighting and is more pleasing.
- Change your sleeping patterns. There are countless psychological benefits to rising early, even if you don’t consider yourself a “morning person.” An unintended benefit will be decreased energy use at night with your early bedtime.
What are some of your favorite energy-cutting measures?
Photo by NeoGaboX