Great energy saving ideas thanks to Jim and Maria!
Energy bills are high these days. And that's just the way things are. This is an extremely cold winter for so many of us, and unfortunately our heating bills are higher than we're used to.
Most of the talk, even from me, about saving energy focuses on CFL lightbulbs, solar power, adding insulation, caulking around leaky doors and windows, and things like that.
But there are some other energy thieves, or energy vampires, that are usually undetected in our homes. And all I have to say to them is "Save some of that juice for me!"
There are several smart little changes that can stop energy from being wasted. Here are a few ideas to get you going.
Rearrange the fridge. When you buy frozen foods in bulk, you're not only saving money, but you're also saving energy. It takes less energy to keep stuff frozen than to keep the air below 32 degrees, so keep that freezer full. If you're talking about the refrigerator, though, it's more energy efficient if there's room for air to circulate. So make sure that you only buy what you would typically use between shopping trips. (This is a really hard tip for couponers to follow!)
Microwave more. When you compare the energy usage of your microwave to your oven, it uses only 20% as much energy. And you get to eat sooner!
Match pot to burner. There really is a reason that stoves have different-sized burners! You can cook more efficiently by matching the size of the pot and pan to the heat source. And you should also use the smallest burner and the smallest pot whenever possible.
Use power strips. TVs, computers, stereos, and even dishwashers all continue to draw energy even when they're not on. If you plug all neighboring devices into a power strip, then you can cut the juice to all of them with the flip of a switch. (Just be careful not to exceed the allowable number of devices. And never plug one power strip into another.)
Change your filter. If your heating system has an air filter, make sure that you change it at least every 3 months. If you have inside pets, then I would suggest changing it more often. The dirtier the filter, the harder your system has to work to heat (or cool) your house.
Sync your ceiling fan. Since hot air rises, a ceiling fan is only doing its job if it's pushing that air back down into the room. This means the blades should be turning clockwise in winter. (Reverse the motion in summer for a cooling effect.) I'm especially guilty of not even having the fans on this time of year, but it really does help keep the hot air to where it benefits you and not your ceiling.
Unadapt. Some of the biggest home energy-wasters are adapters for rechargeable phones, cameras, music players, power tools, etc. When these adapters are plugged in, they draw power even if they're not recharging anything. Just feel the plug and you'll see how hot it is with nothing being charged.
Drop a degree (or three). For every one degree lower you set your thermostat, you'll save up to 5% in heating costs. This is especially good if you're not going to be home for a set period of time. Turn it down while you're away, and then put it back to a comfortable temperature when you return. Or better yet, install a programmable thermostat, then set it and forget it.
Let the sun in. Open the drapes or blinds on the sunny side of the house to take advantage of solar heating. It's one of the few energy sources that's still free. I've been doing this more this winter than I have in the past and it really warms up that room fast.
Leave 'em on. Did you know that it actually wastes energy if you turn CFLs off and on? As a general rule, leave them on if you'll be back in the room within 15 minutes. Otherwise, flip the switch to fight another energy vampire.
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