Updated: Sep 8, 2020
We are all looking to use less electricity. For some, this is purely to cut back on extra costs and put a little away for a rainy day, but for others, it goes deeper. Our constant requirement of power has put a major strain on the Earth's natural resources and the problem seems to be increasing.
In order for us to preserve the Earth's natural resources and save some money as a bonus, we need to make some lifestyle changes.
This is not to say that you need to go completely off the grid (although some of us wish we could).
There are, however, a few very simple and low-cost changes you can make to reduce your energy costs and create a more sustainable living situation for yourself and the generations to come.
Let's take a look at 3 main areas in our life at home that consume a large amount of electricity:
There are multiple ways to reduce our power consumption in these areas ranging from zero cost methods through to the larger investment plans.
This does not only allow us to save on electricity costs but will aid us in reducing our negative carbon footprint.
1. Space heating savings
According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) heating and cooling of residential homes are the largest consumers of electricity in the USA.
This is is not surprising when you consider a large amount of the country lives in a climate where the seasons show a massive change.
This is also true for other countries such as the UK and South Africa where residents can experience very hot summers and cold to freezing winters.
Ways to save electricity on heating and cooling
ZERO COST MEASURES
For colder seasons:
Open the curtains to sun receiving windows as soon as the sun shines on the window, and close at sunset. If you have a sunroom then keep its doors closed at all times. The room will maintain most of its heat and keep it warm throughout the night
If there are small trees or shrubs obstructing the sun on the windows, trim them as required
Close doors to the rooms that don't receive any natural sunlight. This will prevent the "cold rooms" from sucking the warmth from the "warm rooms". Creating hot and cold zones in your house can aid in keeping the heat in the rooms that you use the most.
Dress warmly. It is simple and may seem like you want to wear less clothing when at home, but dressing in warmer clothing while inside will reduce your need for electricity-powered heaters.
For warmer seasons:
Close the curtains to rooms that receive direct sunlight through the middle of the day, and open them when the day starts to cool.
Allow trees to grow taller during the summer months (this will happen naturally as it is their growing season) This will allow for a natural curtain to block off direct sunlight.
Create the same heat zones as you did with the "warm rooms" but use them in the opposite.
Open the windows in your house to allow wind to travel through the house and out the other side; creating a natural fan.
Place automatic door closers on rooms that you would like to keep sealed
Reseal or add seals to leaks around door frames and windows
Use low wattage heating pads to sit on instead of using room heaters
If you use an electric blanket, you can turn it on before bed and set a timer to it so it does not run all night.
Install roof insulation - Wood fiber insulation is made to be fireproof and prevents birds and rats from moving in as a bonus.
Enlarge sun-facing windows and install sun blinds.
2. Saving on water heating
Water heating is the second-highest consumer of electricity usage in residential homes, beaten only by area heating.
As can be seen in the graph on the energy consumption in homes, 18% of energy consumption can be contributed to the heating of water.
Having hot water at our disposal has become something that we take for granted and forget that much of the world does not have this privilege.
However, in many cases, it is hard to go back to cold water showers and cleaning our dishes without it.
How to save on water heating energy bills
ZERO COST MEASURES
Reduced the geyser temperature setting.
Don't run your geyser/ hot water heater all the time. Revert to turning it on before needing hot water, and turning it off once the water is hot.
Reduce the amount of water you use for baths and take shorter showers ( This will also save our most precious resource - water).
When boiling water for coffee or tea, do not full the kettle/ water heater all the way to the top. Instead only put in the amount that you will use. This will drastically reduce the time it takes to boil.
Install a geyser blanket. This will help your hot water tank retain heat and therefore take less time to reach its peak temperature.
Consider installing a solar geyser. Although you will have a higher installation cost, the long term benefits will be significant.
Moving from using a geyser or hot water tank to an electric box heater or gas heater will reduce electricity costs by a large margin as they will only be used when hot water is needed.
3. Power saving while cooking
We all love to eat and sometimes find ourselves cooking multiple meals throughout the day because of our busy schedules.
Although not the highest contributor to power consumption in our household, every bit counts, and small usage can really add up to something significant by the end of each month.
ZERO COST OUTLAY
Reduce the number of cooked meals you prepare per day. Eating together as a family instead of separately preparing or heating up meals is a great way to do this. Alternatively, eat more uncooked meals, such as salads, cold meats, and fruits which all require little to no electricity usage to prepare.
If you are cooking during the day and use heavy-bottomed pots (such as cast iron), leaving them in the sun pre-hand can reduce the time needed to get them to a warmer temperature.
Wrapping pots in towels or cloth once the food is cooked can help keep it warm and reduce the need to reheat it when ready to eat.
Just the same as mentioned above with only putting the required amount of water in a kettle when boiling water, the same should be done with cooking.
Boiling water in a kettle to use on the stove instead of heating water in a pot will not only reduce boiling time and save you money but will also reduce total cooking time and allow you to enjoy your tasty meal sooner.
When cooking with ingredients from the fridge, allow them to defrost or warm up to room temperature before cooking. This may take some time, but if you prepare the ingredients before they are needed you will reduce the time needed to cook each item.
I use a solar oven to cook in the sun - This can take longer than a conventional oven but will greatly reduce your cooking costs.
Cook on fire - having a braai or BBQ is not only a fantastic way to eliminate electricity from our cooking process but is an amazing way to bond with family and friends
Reverting to gas-powered stoves and ovens is a wonderful way to keep the convenience of such appliances while saving that pocket change. Although natural gas is a precious resource and should be used sparingly, the cost and cooking time reduction that it offers is a no-brainer.
4. Reduce clothing cleaning power consumption
Wash clothing in cold water. When clothing is particularly dirty and may require hot water; give it a pre-soak with boiled water from the kettle and then add to your normal load.
Only use the washing machine when you have a full load. If you need to wash something desperately then clean it by hand.
Dry your clothing on a washing line when you can. This will sometimes take some planing on when the sun will be out, but saving sometimes takes a bit of effort and a loss of minor conveniences.
Using a good "hanging strategy" will eliminate your need to iron most of your clothing
5. Bonus electricity bill saving tips
Unplug unused appliances (even though they are off, many appliances experience small power leaks).
Find a way to entertain yourself other than watch T.V ( go for a walk or read a book, you will feel better for it too).
When using a laptop, rely on the battery to avoid constant charging.
Use power-saving light bulbs and only turn them on when needed.
When using a dryer, add a dry towel to the load to reduce drying time.
Reduce the number of times you open the fridge ( A fridge uses a lot of electricity but insulates well).
Saving a little extra money each month does not need to be hard, especially when it is done by reducing something expensive such as electricity.
Of course, reducing energy consumption can require some effort and sometimes a small loss of convenience, but remember, if you are not putting in the effort then is it really worth it?
Above saving some money at the end of the month, the environmental benefits of each household implementing at least some of these steps will be huge.
Perhaps we will eventually reach a stage like Sweden who no longer relies on coal-powered electricity plants, but until then we need to do our part. We all want to be more sustainable in our lifestyles and this is an amazing place to start. If you found any of these above steps helpful or have some others that you would like to share then please comment below and share what you can with the rest of our community! It does not cost anything to give some good advice!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dennis Fajans is a South African environmental enthusiast who has set out to help educate the world on different ways in which they can live a more sustainable lifestyle. If you would like to contact him for more information he can be found at firstname.lastname@example.org
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