We’re all aware of the current state of our planet – the extraction of fossil fuels, mainly the use of inefficient power stations and the mining of coal, has lead to the current situation the world is facing today. Climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, and increasingly polluted cities have led to serious human health issues. Although we’re perfectly aware of this threat and although there’s a great potential for harnessing other renewable resources like solar power, there’s still a great desire for more energy and the extraction of fossil fuels continues on a global level. If we would simply use less energy we would prevent this needless extraction, mitigate climate change, reduce pollution, and preserve natural landscapes.
But environmental issues are not the only reason to reflect on our power use. Power prices have never been more uncertain, which means saving power is saving money, too. So, while you’re making a change as an individual by reducing your carbon footprint, you’ll also keep your hard-earned money in the bank. And we’re not talking about major installations and modifications where you’ll have to wait for a return on investment – reducing energy consumption in your home can be quite simple, actually. Let’s take a look at how a simple switch of habits, followed by a few minor adjustments, can lead to a low-energy lifestyle and a positive impact on the future.
Since almost all energy-saving talks start with gas or electricity, we’re going to start with the most neglected aspect – water. If water wasn’t truly that important, there wouldn’t be the need for restrictions and penalties that come with them. According to a recent article by Jim’s Mowing, several state governments have implemented these water-wise rules, even when restrictions are not draught-induced. Although it may seem too strict, this step is quite logical – a healthy lawn can be maintained without the sprinklers working all day and night and over-spraying onto parking lots and sidewalks.
But the water wastage is never just a waste of water. If you think about it, by saving water you’re also reducing the amount of power needed to heat or purify it. How many times have you boiled a full kettle only to waste two-thirds of it? There is a great number of these unconscious actions you can put an end to. When brushing your teeth, turn the faucet off. You need to make sure that all the taps are fully turned off and fix any leaking ones – in just one week a hot water tap that’s dripping will waste enough to fill half a bath. You can additionally reduce your water usage with low-volume faucets and low-flush toilets. Showering instead of taking a bath (with a standard capacity of 80 liters) saves considerable power, but it’s also important to limit your shower time: going from 20 to 10 minutes will cut your heating costs by 25%. If you have a hot water tank, make sure it’s well insulated.
In the end, there are dishes and laundry. You’ll save both water and energy to heat it if you wash only full loads. You should also avoid pre-washing dishes before placing them in the dishwasher, and if it has an economy setting, use it, since it is usually even more efficient than washing them by hand.
Turn Off & Unplug
The simple habit of turning off all electronics when not in use can greatly reduce energy consumption and keep hundreds of dollars in your pockets. While people are usually aware of this, most forget about their computers since we’re using these gadgets quite frequently. If you don’t want to turn it off and on all the time, at least set it to go to sleep mode. Instead of opting for a screen saver, allow it to hibernate during short brakes since the former is a waste of power. Of course, the same goes for all computer accessories such as scanners and printers.
The appliances that are rarely used should be unplugged. If you’re going on a vacation, unplug them all since most of them use standby power also known as vampire power, meaning they’re designed to use electricity even when switched off. It’s easier to evade this if you use power strips for multiple electrical appliances -by flipping one switch you won’t need to worry about forgetting to unplug each socket.
It’s also recommended to switch to appliances with an Energy Star label since they’re more energy-efficient than 75% of other appliances and therefore perfect for reducing both energy consumption and the monthly bills.
Light & Temperature
Turning off lights when not in use is equally important, but the real change is one of the light bulbs. LEDs are popular since they’re affordable, use 75% less power, last about 25 times longer, and have no mercury, but you can also use CFLs. It’s also helpful to choose pale colors for your walls and ceilings since they’ll reflect more natural light into the available space, and opting for high-gloss paint will reflect even more. Decorating in light colors will also prevent the walls from absorbing as much heat during the summer.
The next step is to adjust the thermostat based on the outside temperature, keeping it between 18 and 20 degrees Celsius during summer and lowering it between 25 and 27 degrees during winter. Keep in mind that every degree you turn down saves around 3% on the heating bill. If you’re worried that you’ll lose the heat, there are plenty of ways to keep it inside, from reflector panels behind radiators to closing the curtains at dusk during summer to retain it in each room. But the most important thing is to make sure your home is well-insulated because if it’s not, it will trap more heat in the summer and lose it more rapidly during winter. Insulation will reduce the amount of energy needed to cool or heat the area, but you should know that cooled or heated air can still leak in and out through the smallest cracks and gaps. If you have them in your windows or walls they can lead to drafts, another form of wasted energy, so it’s important to seal them. This draught-proofing is fairly easy and you can do it yourself.
As you can see, there are many ways to reduce energy consumption in your home, and most of them are tied to your individual habits. It is obvious that employing them won’t make your home any colder, warmer, nor darker. But the extra money saved will stay in your pocket and the positive impact on the environment will surely be a significant one.