With the financial, environmental and power generation problems the world is now facing, everyone should be thinking of how to save electricity. From solar and other renewable energies to conservation, there are a lot of ways to do it. In addition, for those looking for ways to save money on bills, conservation is the best place to start.
Conservation, and the money and environmental savings that come with it, starts with good habits. By simply being aware of the power being consumed and making good habits, one can significantly reduce consumption and electricity bills. Take a second to turn off the computer or game console (remember, many electronic devices use nearly as much electricity in standby mode as they do when being used) and hit the light switch when leaving a room. Habits like these can become second nature and lead to energy conservation, even when one does not think of it anymore.
Lighting accounts for about 15% of power consumed in a typical American home, and the energy used in it can be greatly reduced by replacing incandescent bulbs with energy saving light bulbs such as florescent bulbs or super-efficient LEDs. Incandescent bulbs are a very old technology and waste more than 90% of the energy they consume (that is why they get so hot). While florescent and LED bulbs initially cost extra, they will more than pay for themselves since they conserve electricity, last longer and save on air conditioning costs in the summer.
Vampire power drains
Although many people are not aware of it, electrical appliances use power even when they are switched off. This power drain (called vampire power) accounts for about 10% of the power used in US households now. The simplest way to stop this is to unplug appliances when they are not in use. Since this is often not practical, inexpensive power strips that allow appliances to be shut off at the power source (and smart power strips will do this automatically) are a good investment and will also protect these valuable electrical appliances from power surges.
Moderate use of heating and AC
Most people keep their homes cooler or warmer than what is really necessary to be comfortable. Consider raising or lowering the settings according to the season and invest in a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust the temperature when nobody is at home.
Energy Star symbol
When buying appliances, people should always look for the Energy Star symbol. Keep in mind that appliances like dishwashers are now designed to use far less power than they did only a generation or two ago. Like LED light bulbs, spending a bit extra for appliances such as refrigerators will more than come back in savings from reduced electric bills. When deciding on whether to replace an appliance, also factor in how energy efficient appliances might save electricity.
With modern detergents, most clothes wash just fine in cold water, and hot water can in fact damage them. Washing in cold water, or warm water, will save both money and clothes.
In addition, dryer use can be reduced to a minimum. Be it outside or on an indoor rack, simply hanging clothes up and bringing them in when dry is not any more time consuming than monitoring them in the dryer. Natural drying also helps clothes last longer.
Time the use of dishwashers, washing machines etc. to off-peak times. This saves on utility bills and allows for power to be generated in more efficient ways.
Remember that saving water also saves energy since water must be pumped, treated, etc., which uses energy. Take those extra steps to include adjusting the water level of the washing machine to the load size, taking shorter showers and other tips covered in ways to conserve water.
Insulation, especially in the attic since warm air rises, cannot be stressed enough. Thoroughly insulating the attic and walls will improve home energy efficiency while increasing the value of the home. Caulking doors and windows can improve energy efficiency by 20% year-round. Best of all, there is a Federal tax credit for energy efficient homes.
Enclosing porches and covering windows will greatly reduce the energy and money that goes out these openings. In the summer, close blinds on windows facing the south and south west.
Clean and maintain
Keeping electrical devices clean and maintained will help them run more efficiently. Make sure things like air conditioner filters are cleaned monthly.
Refrigerators are on 24/7 and are the single biggest users of electricity in most households. When buying a new one, be sure to get an energy-efficient model that limits energy use through materials and design changes. They may cost more, but will certainly pay for themselves over time. To keep the fridge running as efficiently as possible, keep it full but not so full that the air cannot circulate well, plan ahead and defrost food in the fridge and do not put uncovered liquids into it.
These are just a few energy saving tips. More can be found at ways to save energy. In addition, consider investing in solar power. It is cheaper than most people think and is the best way to slash home energy bills.