Finding ways to save electricity (and gas) without expending a lot of additional time or money is truly a win-win. You win by saving money on your electric bill and the planet wins too… I guess the electric company doesn’t really win here, but we’ll overlook that for now…
Here in San Diego, our electricity rates are about to increase significantly on September 1st. In preparation for this, my husband and I have been doing some research on possibly having solar panels installed on our roof as well as some other potentially expensive upgrades that could save us money in the long run. However, while we’re saving up for those upgrades I thought I’d do a little research on whether there were any ways we could save electricity and gas without spending any money at all and I’ve summarized my favorites in the list below. None of these ideas are going to cut my electric bill significantly or revolutionize my existence, but they won’t really cost me anything either and so if they do wind up saving us a few dollars a month it’s worth trying.
1. Turn off the lights! - yes, your father was right, turning off lights when you leave the room saves electricity. So turn them off already.
2. Turn off and unplug appliances - like computers, printers, televisions, and coffee makers when they aren’t in use. Many appliances still draw small amounts of electricity even when turned off so unplugging them can save money. It can be a pain to run around the house unplugging everything each day so focus on a few easy ones like your cell phone charger and hair dryer. If you already have a power strip for your computer/printer, go ahead and switch it off when not in use, or for a small cost you can add a product like this reader recommended conservation power switch:Belkin Conserve Power Switch. You can also update the settings on your computer to go into “sleep” mode after 10 minutes or less of inactivity (this will save your monitor too).
3. Close the blinds on a hot day – this will prevent some of the sun’s heat from penetrating the house and hopefully allow you to run your AC and fans less. Likewise, in the winter you should open your blinds to allow that sunshine to help warm things up. If your house is south facing like mine is, this tip can make a real difference.
4. Clean out your refrigerator and freezer – the more food you are trying to store, the harder your appliance has to work to keep it cool. Before weekly meal planning, take stock of what you already have and plan to use it. Very few of us really need to have 10 pounds of meat or half a dozen casseroles lying around…eat them now. If you have a second refrigerator or chest freezer, try to avoid storing it in the garage since it will need to work harder to maintain the temperature in a non-temperature controlled environment. Likewise, if you have a second unit that isn’t currently being used…unplug it until you need it again. Check out my $50 Meal Plan post for ideas on keeping that refrigerator and freezer empty.
5. Lower the temperature on your water heater – (your water heater is likely heated by gas instead of electricity, but I just had to include this one) according to the together we save website, the average family could save $62 per year by lowering the hot water heater settings from 150F to 120F. If you have small children in the house you probably want to have it set lower anyway. When going on vacation you can also reduce the heat by setting it to the “vacation setting” for bigger savings.
6. Turn off oven or stovetop a few minutes before food is finished cooking - the retained heat will finish off the food saving you money. This is particularly handy during the hot summer months when turning the oven off early means the kitchen can cool down sooner.
7. Put a lid on the pot when boiling water – doing this will trap heat in the pot requiring less energy to bring the liquid to a boil…it will also boil faster. This tip is courtesy of my Mother who has always done this…even before it was cool to save electricity.
8. Wash clothes in cold water - using cold water detergent or for really dirty clothes use warm water but rinse in cold. Line dry when possible (this will help your clothes last longer too) and clean out the lint filter after each load to keep your appliances working efficiently. You can also use your vaccum cleaner hose nozzle to clean the lint that collects around the lint screen inside your dryer periodically.
9. Only run the dishwasher when it’s full - it uses the same amount of electricity and water to run a full or empty dishwasher, so use the space. If I’m ready to run the dishwasher and have a little room I’ll put other stuff in there like the knobs and covers from my stovetop, the tea kettle or dishwashing sponges. You should also set the dishwasher to run on the shortest setting possible and turn off the heated dry setting…let them air dry when the cycle is complete. Don’t pre-rinse dishes if you are going to wash them right away (do pre-rinse if you know they are going to sit there overnight), and if you do rinse, only use cold water.
10. Use the smallest appliance when cooking – think microwave, toaster or toaster oven instead of the oven if doing so won’t negatively impact the taste of the food. These appliances use far less electricity than the oven.
11. Close fireplace flue and keep doors and windows sealed – this is helpful when running AC in summer or heat in winter.
12. Ensure that air registers are not blocked by furniture or rugs.
The last tidbit of info I’d like to leave you with is that, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, the appliances that use the most energy in the average home are as follows:
- Water heater
- Clothes Dryer
- Pool pump
So if you want to maximize the impact of your energy saving efforts, focus on finding ways to reduce your use from these 4 appliances.
For more ideas on saving electricity, check these resources:
This post was shared at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up Monday, Homestead Barn Hop, Real Food Forager, Tuesday Talent Show, Cast Party Wednesday, Works for Me Wednesday, Healthy 2Day Wednesday, Party Wave Wednesday, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, Thank Your Body Thursday, Old Fashioned Friday and Little House in the Suburbs.