Not only will these tidbits help you save electricity but they will also help you save money on your energy bill.
#1 Invest in energy-efficient lighting.
If you still have traditional incandescent bulbs, it’s time to upgrade. Only 10 percent of the electricity required for the bulb is used to put off light – the rest is given off in heat. CFLs and LEDs are much better choices, using up to 80 percent less electricity and lasting up to 25 times longer. Follow the link for a more detailed comparison on the types of light bulbs. Also be sure when you’re shopping for light bulbs that you’re basing your decision on the right criteria (think lumens, not watts). Lighting makes up 10 percent of an average household’s energy bill, says the U.S. Department of Energy, so investing in energy-efficient bulbs is worth considering. The DOE estimates that a household could save $50 a year in energy costs when you replace 15 traditional incandescent bulbs.
#2 Set a programmable thermostat to the recommended temperatures.
By properly setting a programmable thermostat, you can save $180 every year on electricity, according to the Public Utility Commission’s Power To Save Texas website. The recommended temps are:
- Summer: 78°F when you’re home, 80°+ when you’re away
- Cold months: 68°F when you’re home, 64° or less when you’re away
Each degree of extra cooling/heating will increase electricity usage 6 percent to 8 percent.
#3 Be smart when doing laundry.
Here are some small things you can do to curb your energy use in the laundry room.
- Only use the washer and dryer when you have full loads.
- Use cold water on as many loads as possible. Heating water uses more energy.
- Hang up your clothes to avoid using the dryer completely or set it on air dry.
- Every so often vacuum the lint screen slot in your dryer.
#4 Use power management settings on your devices.
Many devices in your house can be programmed to go to sleep after a certain period of inactivity.
- Computer and monitor: The EPA recommends setting your machines to go to sleep after 15-60 minutes of dormancy. Of course the faster your computer and monitor go to sleep, the more electricity you’ll save. For instructions on how to change settings for your device, click here.
- TV: Besides a power-saving mode, you can also decrease the brightness to minimize electricity use. If you’re worried about the TV being too dark, use less lights in the room.
- Printers and all-in-one devices: Check the manual, but many printers/copiers have a sleep mode.
Even though sleep mode is beneficial, don’t forget it’s best to turn off your devices if you won’t be using them for long periods of time.
#5 Use that ceiling fan correctly.
In summer, fans spinning counterclockwise make rooms feel four degrees to six degrees cooler using the wind chill effect. Fans use less electricity than your air conditioner and allow you to raise your thermostat’s temperature, saving money on your bill. But don’t forget to turn off the fan when you leave the room. Fans only make it feel cooler – they don’t actually cool the air. So you’re wasting electricity by leaving fans on in unoccupied rooms. You can still use your fans during the winter, too, because most have a switch that change the direction the air is flowing. During cold months, you want your fans spinning clockwise to distribute the warm air that has risen towards the ceiling evenly throughout your room.
#6 Save electricity with kitchen appliances.
There are several simple things you can do to save electricity in the kitchen.
- Keep the refrigerator full. Fridges work more efficiently when they are full. If you don’t have enough food, store bottled water in there. Also, try to decide what you need before you open the door so you’re not letting lots of warm air in.
- Only use the dishwasher when full.
- Turn off the heat-dry setting on your dishwasher and allow the dishes to air dry.
- Use the toaster oven instead of your large oven when it’s appropriate.
- Turn your oven off when you only have a few minutes of baking left. The temperature inside will stay relatively constant as long as you don’t open it to peak.
We’ve also compiled 15 no-cost ways to save electricity in the kitchen if you want to learn more.
#7 Change your air filters regularly.
Keeping clean air filters can lower your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5 percent to 15 percent, according to the DOE. Dirty filters make your air conditioner work harder and reduce airflow. The DOE recommends putting a new filter in every month or two during summer. If you don’t have pets, you could go longer between changes. If a reminder would be helpful, consider setting a prompt on your phone or creating a recurring event on your calendar to make it top of mind at regular intervals.
#8 Use blinds and drapes to your advantage.
Natural light can be a great resource depending on the time of year. During wintertime, not only can you use sunlight to light your house but you can also let the radiant heat help warm your home by opening the blinds and drapes. During the summer the last thing you want is direct sunlight streaming into your office and heating the room. In this instance, close the blinds to help keep the radiant heat out. If a room does not directly face the sun, you can use the indirect light at any time of year to brighten your rooms instead of turning on the lights.
#9 Close your fireplace damper when you’re not using it.
If you leave your damper open when you’re not using your fireplace, you’re letting air that your HVAC system has cooled or heated escape from your house. That’s like leaving a window wide open all day and all night long. Close the damper to save electricity.
#10 Buy Energy Star devices when you’re shopping.
Almost every device in your home has the opportunity to earn Energy Star certification – air conditioners, fans, TVs, battery chargers, light bulbs, etc. You name it, and it can probably have the Energy Star stamp of approval. For a complete list, refer to Energy Star’s website. What exactly is the label all about? All Energy Star devices are more energy-efficient than their counterparts. For example, a new Energy Star-certified refrigerator uses at least 20 percent less energy than required by current federal standards and 40 percent less energy than 2001 conventional models.
#11 Unplug your devices when not in use.
Many devices still consume electricity when they’re powered off and still plugged in, which is known as the vampire power drain. They are using electricity in “standby power mode” to be ready to turn on at a moment’s notice. Between 5 percent and 10 percent of residential electricity use goes toward powering appliances in standby power mode, says the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. To avoid this wasted energy, unplug your devices each night, especially your TVs and computers.
#12 Make your pool more energy efficient.
Many people in Texas have pools, and maintaining them can contribute a large portion to summertime electric bills. Save electricity (and money) by getting the smallest pump that will work for your pool and using it less. For advice on choosing the right pool pump for your backyard oasis, check out the DOE’s website. Also, the recommended range from the American Red Cross for your pool’s temperature is 78ºF to 82ºF. Each degree rise in temperature will cost 10 percent to 30 percent more in energy costs.
#13 Get a home energy audit.
If you’ve never had a home energy audit performed, then you have probably missed opportunities to increase the energy efficiency of your house. Professionals can identify leaks, poorly insulated areas and recommend steps to take to decrease your electricity consumption. You can save from 5 percent to 30 percent on your energy bills by taking action after a home energy audit.
#14 Turn off those lights!
This is an oldie but goodie. When you’re not using lights, turn them off. You’ll extend the life of your bulbs, save electricity and save money. The only exceptions to this tip are compact florescent lights. If you have CFLs, then the rule of thumb is turn the light off only if you’ll be out of the room for 15 minutes or more, since you can generally extend the life of the bulb by turning it on and off less frequently. What’s the best way to ensure that your lights are off? Install timers with motion sensors that will turn the lights off for you. What do you like to do to save electricity?