One of my favorite clients sent out long list of energy-saving tips after spending close to a year shaving her family’s energy use. Violaine Melancon is a musician who cares deeply about the environment and she got bitten by the energy efficiency bug. A good list is very satisfying, even if they have things you’re already doing, because that just makes you feel a bit smug. (Already doing! So in-the-know!)
A while back we wrote about this topic , aimed at reducing heating bills in winter. Here we present Violaine’s more comprehensive list, with links added by us for your convenience. Let us know what your experiences are with saving energy around your house.
1. Turn off lights! Use as little as you really need.
2. Change all the incandescent light bulbs you can to those funny-looking fluorescent ones.
3. Unplug appliances (washer, dryer, kitchen things like blender, toaster, hairdryer etc…) when not in use. This includes your cell-phone charger and any low-voltage lights that have those boxy AC adaptors on the plug end.
4. Turn off your computer when not in use and purchase a “smart strip" at SmartHomeUSA , which cuts the leaking current at the source. While you’re at it, purchase smart strips for the TV/DVD center and the sound system. All electronics still use a lot of power even when off.
5. Install motion sensor lights for outside. Retrofit any fixture with screw-in sensors available at Home Depot
6. Buy programmable thermostats and set them to off for times you’re not in the house (or on a floor of the house like bedrooms during the day), programming the comfortable temperature to kick in half an hour before your return to the house. During cold months, set it to no more than 68 when you’re home during the day and 64 at night. For the summer months, 78 during the day at home and 80 at night.
7. Go passive . When the outside temperature is between 65 and 85, try not to use any cooling or heating. If you use passive solar and cross-ventilation, you can keep the house full of fresh air and amazingly comfortable. Keep the sun out when it’s hot (hot daytime or cold nighttime) or keep the warmth inside when it’s cold by closing windows and lowering shades. Open windows and lift shades to cool or warm house depending on outside temperature and the need.
8. Switch to wind or solar energy through your utility company to stop contributing to the release of CO2 gases.
9. Purchase Energy-Star rated (energy efficient) appliances when you buy a new one (dishwasher, washer and dryer, computer, printer, refrigerator, water heater, furnace, etc…).
10. Laptops use about 5% to 10% of the amount of energy desktops do.
11. Weather-strip your doors (and windows if necessary) to make them more airtight.
12. Put an insulating blanket on your water heater and set it to a lower temperature. 120 degrees F (48.9 degrees C) is plenty hot.
13. When you go away for a few days, turn down your water heater to the lowest setting and unplug everything. If it’s for a longer trip, empty the fridge, unplug it and and leave the door open.
14. Run the dishwasher and washing machine only with full loads. Don’t use the drying mode on the dishwasher; most of the energy is used by that setting. Use cold water for laundry and air dry clothes. They’ll last longer, won’t shrink and fade, and you’ll save energy.
15. Check if your energy company has time-of-use savings : here it’s cheaper to run the big appliances between 9pm and 7am, and power is at its most expensive 7-11am and 5-9pm.
16. When you’ve saved up enough money, install energy-efficient windows that capture the warmth of the sun in winter and repel it in summer (it has to do with the angle with which the sun hits the window, higher in summer, and lower in winter).