Save power: simple, passive things you can do today
We all know there are two very compelling reasons to save power and reduce our individual energy usage: first, to do our part in being environmentally conscious, and second, to save money. Homes (especially older homes but sometimes even newer homes supposedly built with better techniques and materials) are often extremely wasteful in terms of energy usage. This is often due to the slow changes in the construction industry relating to energy efficiency and ‘green’ building techniques, and also because until quite recently the cost differences between energy efficient techniques and materials compared to traditional ones was striking.
However, even today’s brand new homes can’t save energy all by themselves: the people who inhabit them must do their part. While it may not make sense for you to open your walls and replace your insulation, install solar panels on your roof or make other dramatic (and expensive) changes, there are several simple, easy things that can all be accomplished in a few quick minutes, and for very little investment.
Save power passively
One of the biggest energy drains in your home is so-called ‘vampire power.’ This is the energy still being sipped from the wall by your appliances, even when they are turned off. Many appliances such as flat-screen televisions, microwave ovens, or laundry units are always consuming small amounts of electricity even if they are completely inert. While manufacturers are improving this situation, the best way to stop this drain is to install a standby power switch, such as an EcoSwitch, between the appliances and the wall outlet. These devices allow you to switch off several appliances at once with one easy button, eliminating ‘vampire power’ from your home. The savings for each individual appliance is small, but in the aggregate can be impressive.
Another passive way to save power is to examine the settings on your heating, cooling, and hot water heating systems. Many people have their climate control set at a temperature the home will never actually attain, and thus the air conditioning or heating runs non-stop, wasting energy. Selecting a temperature that keeps you comfortable without going to extremes can save tremendous amounts of energy, as can turning on the low-power settings. If you find the hot water coming out of your tap is blistering hot, your water heater is set too high and energy can be saved by turning it down.
Save power through shopping
Everyone likes to go shopping, and it’s nice to have a good excuse. If your appliances are more than a few years old, newer models may have vastly improved energy saving features and be significantly more efficient to run. This of course must be balanced by the consideration of disposing of perfectly functional appliances, but if you can find a way to donate or sell them, a new set of appliances throughout the house can combine into real energy savings.
Save power through maintenance
One of the most basic ways to save power in your home involves almost no expenditure at all: Maintenance. Keeping your appliances, heating systems, and other infrastructure up-to-date and in top working condition makes them more efficient, often by a large margin. Cleaning filters on your central heating and cooling units helps them to operate at ideal efficiency, and maintaining your water heater by bleeding it annually not only prolongs its service life but helps it function better, saving money as well as energy.
Maintenance isn’t just about appliances, either. If you know your wiring or plumbing is old and dated, the expense of updating it should be viewed as an investment and not simply money out the window – those investments will pay dividends in lower bills as well as lower energy usage. And the exterior of your home shouldn’t be neglected – re-caulking old windows can help reduce air leakage as you heat or cool your home, and window covering in the warm months can reduce the interior temperatures of your house before your cooling system needs to kick in.
The most effective ways to save power are easy, and if every home-owner employed these simple tricks the combined energy saved throughout the world would be staggering. Take a moment to consider the easy, passive things you can do today to lower your energy footprint.