Improving your home’s electrical energy efficiency doesn’t have to be done with expensive upgrades or costly renovations. Just a few tweaks to your habits and perhaps some minor DIY can help you to save some money.
We can save money on electricity by getting smarter on how we use electricity. Low cost changes at home can cut your bill by up to $400 or more a year. The individual savings will of course vary depending on a number of factors such as the number of people in the household, age and number of appliances and the size of your home.
The consumption of electricity varies from home to home but based on some recent statistics, home consumption of electricity is estimated as follows:
- 14% of energy to heat for household water requirements (electric)
- 13% of energy to run our washers and dryers
- 12% of energy our energy to provide home lighting
- 4% of energy to keep our food and drinks cold and from spoiling in coolers, freezer & refrigerators
- 2% to clean with our dishwasher, vacuums, pressure washers etc.
- 4% of energy to prepare our food in ovens and microwaves
- 4% of our energy for communication and entertainment appliances, to charge our Phones, tablets, run our desktop computers, TV’s, DVD players, cable or satellite boxes, hair dryers etc.
1. If you are not using it, turn it off!
One of the simplest ways to save electricity is to turn off unnecessary lights. The operation of unnecessary lighting is certainly an avoidable expense. This seems like common sense, but unless we get into the habit, it is easy to leave unnecessary lights turned on. You have to change the household mindset and turn it into a daily habit. Turning off one 60 watt light bulb for two hours a day can save up to $10 a year, 2 is $20, 3 $30….it can add up.
Consider using motion sensing lights as a great room addition and automating the lights off process for you . Motion lighting will also provide added safety for your outdoor lighting needs. Having your lights on dimmers or on timers will also save you money and help you to increase the safety of your home.
2. In daylight, always optimize the available natural light!
A small south facing window illuminates 20 to 100 times its square area. Try to avoid turning on lights in the daytime – Did you know that reducing use of just one 60-watt bulb for four hours a day can save you up to $10 over a period of a year?
If needed in the daytime (and even at night), use small table lamps, track lighting and under-counter lighting with LED bulbs for your reading, work areas and in the kitchen whenever possible. This could save you $10 a year.
In the summer, that one window letting all that beautiful sunshine in will heat up the room, so pull those window covering down or across depending on what you have Add a ceiling fan to re-circulate the air.
Ceiling fans are great in drawing cold air up when you need to cool certain rooms and not the whole house. They are ideal for bedrooms at night. Ceiling fans can also help in cold months as most ceiling fans nowadays come with a “reverse” option that let’s you push hot air down into the room. This could save you up to $5 and another $25 in the summer of AC costs.
3. Optimize and unplug electronic and appliances that you are not using and fight phantom power consumption!
Did you know that those simple plug in chargers draw power even when there is no device attached. Once your phone, tablet or other devices is fully charged, unplug it because the charger will keep drawing power if you don’t.
Unplugging unused electronics or putting them on timers can save you $40 a year. Many people don’t realize that when many appliances are turned on but not running, they are drawing and consuming standby power that can suck up to 10% of your annual electricity usage.
Things like televisions, cable boxes, PVRs and game consoles suck energy even when they are not being used. A PVR turned off when you are away on vacation or for a few weekends might add up to a reduction of two months of consumption a year, potentially saving you $5.
You can make it easier to turn these appliances off by using a power bar – some that you can buy can be programmed to switch on in the day and switch off at night. Remember that if you have all these appliances on a single power bar, it’s easy to do. If you don’t get one with a timer switch, you can simply switch it off before everyone goes to bed.
Use your laptop or tablet instead of your desktop computer when possible. Turning off that old desktop and reducing usage by just two hours per day, could save $10 over a year.
Be efficient with your fridge and freezer and don’t leave the doors open unnecessarily. Keep them both at their ideal temperature – for your fridge that is between 2°C (35.6°F) and 3°C (37.4°F) and for your freezer it is -18°C (35.6°F). Unplug that second fridge and save up to $80 a year. Freeze water in jugs and small containers to use in a cooler when you need short term extra fridge space.
Use the dishwasher for full loads only. Skip the heat-dry setting for the dishwasher because that neat heat-dry setting on your dishwasher is an expensive feature to run. If you are doing a load of dishes a day, you can save about $35 a year.
4. Use less hot water
If you have a hot water heater, it is probably the biggest consumer of electricity in your home (unless of course you are heating your home with electricity in a cold climate). Take shorter showers – just a minute less every day can save you $20 a year.
Turn the water on only when you are using it when filling the sink, buckets for cleaning, shaving, washing hands or brushing your teeth. If your reduce water consumption by just 5%, you potentially save $20 a year.
Fix all dripping water faucets and you could save yourself $20 a year.
Do only full laundry loads, cut back to one load of laundry per week. Use cold water only. This could save you $20 a year on your laundry costs. Did you know that just by adding a dry towel to a dryer load significantly reduces drying time and could save you $20 a year? Hang clothes outside to dry and save another $20 a year.
5. Use energy efficient appliances
Over time, work to recycle your old inefficient TV’s and appliances and replace them with Energy Star ones. This could save you $30 a year.
6. Reduce heat in the kitchen
In the summer, take advantage of outdoor cooking, barbecue, use a crock pot, toaster oven or microwave to reduce heat in the kitchen. Generally you can cook what takes an hour in the oven in a microwave in 15 minutes or less. Eat more cold plates, salads and drink smoothies. Using the barbecue to cook meats and vegetables reduces the heat in your kitchen. This can save you $30 a year.
So as you can see, you don’t have to spend big bucks to save on electricity. Just small changes like the ones above can add up to some pretty big savings.