We all know that we should save energy because the government and many organizations say so and it reduces our utility bills. But are you aware why it is important for the environment? Basically, we should limit the usage of energy because fossil fuels such as coal and oil. Supplies will soon run out and the process of generating energy from these nonrenewable resources pollutes the air with carbon dioxide. This process has a detrimental impact on the environment, as carbon emissions are the most significant cause of global warming. There are some renewable energy technologies like wind turbines and solar panels. Nevertheless, for the time being, these are not sufficient to ensure enough energy for the world. If you are already convinced that you should save energy, here are some tips - from A to Z...
Audio/video products such as TVs, stereos, and DVD players shouldn't be left on stand-by. It is better to turn them off completely. It may seem that such a device does not consume much when on sleep mode, however we tend to have more and more of these devices in our homes. It really adds to your bill. The best solution would be to switch off the power strip or unplug them.
Battery charging systems (for mobile phones, laptops, MP3 players, etc.) should not be left charging unnecessarily. What is more, disconnecting the device is not enough, as the charger left in the socket is still consuming some energy. Always remember to unplug it.
Computers may not apply to the same rule. Turning them on and off throughout the day may not be very practical; but you can turn off the monitor, copier, printer, and scanner when you take a break. If you are going to replace your computer soon, choose one that is Energy Star compliant. For the time being, you can decrease energy consumption by turning down the brightness on your monitor.
Dishwashers, clothes washers, refrigerators, freezers, and room air conditioners are the appliances that account for about 17% of the energy consumption in an average household. That is why, when shopping for one of them, you should also consider how much they will cost you monthly for the next 10-15 years. You can check this by examining the yellow and black EnergyGuide label displayed on the appliance. This will tell you the annual energy consumption and operating cost.
Energy Star certified appliances are the most energy-efficient. These are usually more expensive, but the savings on energy and water are rewarding. The U.S. government supports these products through the State Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program.
For those who are not able to replace their old appliances, there are tips on energy saving as well. Don't keep refrigerators and freezers colder than necessary. The correct temperature for refrigerator compartments is 38 degrees F, and for a freezer is 5 degrees F. Try not to leave the fridge or freezer doors open for longer than necessary.
Generate savings by washing your clothes at 30 degrees Celsius as opposed to 40 - it can mean a reduction of 40% in terms of energy consumption. It should be enough to get your clothes clean, as modern washing powders are effective at lower temperatures as well.
Heating and cooling consumes the most energy in an average household. Proper maintenance of heating and cooling equipment, tight windows, and good insulation of the house is necessary to maximize efficiency.
Invest in a programmable thermostat. It enables you to turn down the heat at night and when you are away at work.
Jumpers can be also helpful. When it is getting colder, you may put one on instead of turning the thermostat up.
Keep your curtains and shades closed at night and open them throughout the day to let the sunshine in during a heating season, or the other way around if it is cool. There are more ways to control the temperature in your home than through air-conditioning.
Lids can help you save as well. Use them when cooking, not only to use less energy, but also to heat your meal more quickly.
Meal finished - time for washing. Set the temperature in your dishwasher as low as possible, and turn it on only when it's full. Let your dishes air dry instead of using automatic drying.
No soaking, prewash, or rinsing is needed. Scrape the leftovers off dishes before placing them in the washer.
Once you have finished cooking, turn off the kitchen fan. Remember to regularly clean and replace the filter to make sure the device is efficient.
Purchase a small electric pan or toaster oven if you usually prepare meals for only one or two persons. It would be much more efficient than to use stove or full-size oven. Microwaves also save energy, as they heat food quickly.
Question yourself. Are there air leaks in your house? Check all ducts, doors, and window frames, and seal all cracks that let air in and out.
Replace light bulbs with energy saving CFL bulbs. They are more expensive initially, but use 70% less electricity and last, according to various researchers, 8 to 13 times longer.
Savings can also be made by reducing the time the lights are on. Remember, if you have installed energy-saving fluorescent bulbs, when leaving the room only for a couple of minutes, it is more cost effective not to turn the light off.
Take advantage of timers and photo cells that keep the lights on only when needed. Dimmers can also help, as they enable you to reduce the light level and energy intake.
Use as much daylight as possible. In general, it is much healthier than artificial light.
Ventilating the rooms is necessary. But remember to turn off the heating or air conditioning system before opening the windows.
Water heating costs can be reduced by replacing a tank heater with a tankless unit. You can also consider heat pump water heaters, as they are even more energy efficient. Remember that using too much hot water is also unhealthy. Use as cool as you feel comfortable (120°F should be enough). You can also try to make your shower shorter.
"X-ray" your hot water storage tank insulation (if you have one) to make sure the heat doesn't escape. Insulate the first 6 feet of the hot and cold water pipes connected to the water heater.
You can also consider installing a solar water heater if you can find an unshaded, south-facing location for it.
Zeal and patience are necessary if you are to be successful in saving energy at home. At the beginning, you may have a lot to remember and many changes to make when applying the above mentioned tips. With time, it will come naturally.
Remember that saving energy means not only saving money, but it also benefits our health and has a positive impact on the environment. The need to stop global warming is now felt worldwide, and each of us has an important part to play in it. Give it a try!