In today’s modern society we’re forced to deal with the ever rising cost of energy. Drive by the pump on any given day and you can expect to see a rise in gasoline prices. Even with energy efficient lighting and appliances, our electricity bills seem to increase year-after-year. When it comes to our creature comforts, whether it’s struggling to keep cool during a scorching heat wave or trying to stay warm out when it’s bitterly cold outside, the average American household spends 3-5 percent of their budget on energy bills.
Encouraging energy conservation has been the mantra of ecology minded Americans for years, but many of us only become energy conscious once a month – right after the bill arrives. It’s no surprise when the average household spends $2,200 on electricity and $900 on natural gas annually.
Being aware of your energy consumption and learning to use less is a habit that you’ll establish over time. General ways to save that cost nothing to implement, like turning the lights off when leaving a room, are universally known, but even more savings will result when less obvious, small lifestyle changes are implemented.
Lifestyle Changes tHAT Save Electricity
Less obvious ways to conserve energy and ultimately save money will involve small lifestyle changes, such as:
- Meal Preparation: Match the pan or pot size to the burner to save gas or electricity. When using the oven, the temperature drops by 25º each time you open the door, so utilize the interior light and keep the door closed.
- Food Clean-Up: Scrape dishes before loading and running a full dishwasher, rather than hand washing to save on hot water.
- Room Arrangements: Use seasonal furniture arrangements to optimize energy usage. Use draperies in winter months to reduce drafts; keep them open during sunny days to allow the heat of the sun to assist in warming southern exposed rooms. Be sure heat ducts, radiators, baseboard heating units and cold air return vents are unimpeded by furniture or drapes. Take advantage of ceiling fans to help circulate both warm and cool air to maximize efficiency. If you have bare wood or tile floors, use strategically placed rugs to retain heat and add comfort.
- Thermostat Adjustments: Most modern thermostats are fully programmable, so be sure to take advantage by raising the thermostat in the summer and lowering it in the winter when no one will be in the home for more than a few hours. Just a few degrees can make a big difference!
- Hot Water Usage: Save on the energy used to produce hot water and increase the life of your heater by turning the temperature down 20 degrees. Cutting your shower by a mere three minutes saves up to 15 gallons of hot water, according to the EPA. In addition, using cold water for washing clothes with an Energy Star washer is just as efficient as hot water, according to Good Housekeeping.
Invest for Maximum Benefits
Investing in energy-saving products and appliances and incorporating them into your lifestyle should happen slowly over time. For example, switching all of your incandescent bulbs to halogen or LEDs would be a pricey exchange all at once. Opt to replace light bulbs with the new energy efficient ones as they burn out, spreading the cost over months or years. Replace old thermostats with ones that are programmable. Buy energy efficient models when your older appliances wear out.
Maintenance Saves Energy
Read the owner’s manual on your major appliances, furnace and AC unit. Follow the maintenance advice to ensure they run as efficiently as possible. Install new or clean reusable air filters every 60-90 days to ensure optimal performance. Clean the coil on your refrigerator several times each year. Leaky, ill fitting or broken windows and doors may need to be replaced or repaired. If a problem arises, don’t hesitate to call a professional for an inspection or a quote to get the job done.
The Savings Add Up…
Although some of these tips may seem trivial or a waste of time, each small step you take to reduce your energy consumption will result BIG SAVINGS over time. To find out how much you can save, see the Energy Calculators provided by DTE
* For more ways to save on energy, download:
More Than 100 Ways to Save On Your Energy Bill (Consumers Energy)