18 Energy Efficient Tips to Help You Live A Greener Life

by Purvin Arshad

A typical American home uses nearly 900 kilowatts of electricity every month. A majority of this amount is used for utilities like lighting, cooling, and heating. To live more energy efficiently means decreasing the amount of energy you use each month. You can begin by taking inventory of your home to find places where energy is being wasted. It also means identifying places where you can use it more efficiently.

New home technologies and improved home appliances make it possible to reduce energy usage. Finding ways to cut down on your energy usage will put more money in your pocket. Even more important, it reduces your carbon footprint and leaves a cleaner, healthier environment for future generations. Here are some tips on how you can live more energy efficiently.

1. Seal Leaks

By far the greatest energy consumers in your home are your heating and cooling systems. The most effective method of conserving energy here is by sealing any air leaks. You can get a professional to find the leaks or do it yourself. Most often leakages are found in window and door frames, outlets, and switch boxes. They are also usually found at penetration points of pluming works and electrical points.

After locating points of leaks, you can seal them by caulking, insulation, or any other method of choice. According to one study, sealing leaks can save between 5 to 30% on your utility bills.

door sealing stripe

2. Use Smart Thermostats

These little gadgets are relatively inexpensive and easy to install. They can adjust temperatures automatically using local weather data or personal preferences. You have total control over your smart thermostat via a smartphone. Sensors in different rooms allow you to heat or cool only the rooms that will be used.

Not ready to invest in a thermostat yet? In that cast set your summer temperature to 78°F in summer and 68°F in winters. Each degree of additional cooling or heating will increase your energy use by 6 to 8%. It is also a misconception that if you set the thermostat at a lower temperature, it will cool faster. Use a ceiling fan, as it will feel cooler without having to lower the thermostat.

3. Unplug & Turn Off

Leaving your appliances plugged in on standby modes is among the biggest energy wasters. Just one computer left on all day ends up using close to 1000 kilowatts hours of electricity in one year! We tend to leave our lights, printers, coffee machines, and many other things around the house on. Unplug or turn the power off if something is not being used.

If you are forgetful, then smart plugs are one of the best ways to cut down on phantom load. Phantom load is the energy being consumed by devices that are left on but not in use. Group similar devices together like printers, computers, and scanners and plug them into one power strip. Plug the power strip into a smart plug like Amazon smart plug, TP-Link Kasa, or any other smart plug. They can all be turned off with one switch when not being used. Many smart plugs can even be controlled via apps downloaded into your smartphones. So you can turn off things whenever you remember remotely.

4.  Dim The Brightness

Adjust the brightness of your TV to a darker level to have a comfortable watching. An over-bright television display will cause eye strain. This is especially important for children and when you are watching TV in a dark room. Of course, darker TV displays have lower electricity costs.

5. Automatically Power Off the Monitor

Change the time setting for the monitor to automatically turn off when the computer is inactive. 15 minutes is recommended as the best time for the computer to wait before powering off your monitor.  Check how to set the waiting time on your computer.

6. Use Energy Efficient Lighting

Lighting makes up roughly 12% of your utility bill. The first step towards cutting back here is to switch to LED or compact fluorescent lights. Both of these types of lighting use considerably less energy than traditional bulbs. While these can cost more upfront, they more than pay for themselves as they last a very long time. Most people prefer CLF as they are cheaper than LEDs. However, they contain mercury which leaves a negative footprint on the environment. Whenever possible use natural light. Open those drapes and blinds! Lastly, make sure to turn all lights that are not needed.

For outdoor lighting, you can use solar lamps in various spots in the garden or to light the walkway. Permanent outdoor lights can be put on timers that are simple to install and fairly inexpensive.

7. Laundry Tips

When doing laundry, most of the energy is used in heating the water. Many companies now have specially formulated detergents that work with cold water. Whenever possible do laundry with cold water. If that is not an option for you, then at least reduce the temperature of the hot water. Heating water to 140° F takes a lot more energy than heating it to 103° F. The higher temperature is not any better at cleaning clothes! Also wait until you have a full load, instead of running half a load of laundry.

Whenever possible, air-dry your clothes, as cutting down on the energy used by a dryer is more tricky. Set the dryer to automatic instead of timed cycle. The dryer will stop once sensors establish that clothes are dry.

8. Install Tankless Water Heaters

These heaters are fast becoming the norm. They do not use a big water tank that stores water at a constant temperature. Instead, water is heated as it flows through the pipes. Only the required amount is heated. No energy is wasted in maintaining a high temperature of the water. In the long run, these heaters pay for themselves, and it is a huge victory for the environment.

9. Optimize Use of Freezer & Refrigerator

The new appliances like refrigerators and freezers are designed to be highly energy-efficient. Most of the latest models have an energy star rating. So selecting the most energy-efficient product is easier.

If you are not ready to invest in a new appliance, then optimize the efficiency of your existing appliances. Check seals to ensure they don’t leak. Refrigerators and freezers work best when they are full. If they are not full, put water bottles in the empty spaces. Be careful not to overfill. This will cut down on airflow and make the appliance work more.

10. Become a Smart Cook

Cooking requires the use of a lot of energy. According to statistics convection ovens are more efficient compared to conventional ones. They employ fans to circulate heat more evenly so food can be cooked at less temperature. For the same amount of time, conventional ovens use 80% more energy than convection ovens. Using lids and pressure cookers cuts down on cooking time significantly, thereby saving energy.

Cook only what you and the family need. Eat up what you cook. Don’t waste food. Food waste is not just the waste of food, but the waste of energy resources. Because you need to use energy to cook it, add sugar, oil, salt, seasoning, etc. You and our environment pay extra behind a plate of food.

11. Reasonable Purchase and Storage

Purchase what you really need. Buy fresh seasonal food. Learn smart storage ideas and reduce food waste.

12. Drive Less

ride a bicycle, take public transportation or walk to the destination. Don’t drive a car if it’s not too far and you have enough time. This is the direct way to reduce exhaust gas emissions and protect the environment. In addition, it saves energy and your car expenses.

13. Go Solar

If it fits your budget, then solar panels can be a good investment. By generating their own power, solar panels can greatly reduce your energy cost, if not totally abolish it. The greater your energy bill, the more benefit you get by turning to solar power.

The use of solar power helps the environment. Traditional electricity is produced by burning a variety of fossil fuels. These add a lot of greenhouse gases to the environment. Solar power is clean energy from the sun besides being free, it does not pollute.

solar panel on the roof

14. Replace Windows

A lot of heat is exchanged through the large glass window. This really adds to heating and cooling costs. Outdated windows are very energy inefficient. Keep in mind that simply replacing windows to save energy is not cost-effective. To get good savings, you need to replace your single-glazed windows with double or triple-glazed ones. Also, keep in mind that vinyl frames are better than aluminum ones.

Upgrading the smaller windows to larger ones allows you to gain natural lighting without turning on the lights.

15. Upgrade Insulation

The Environmental Protection Agency says homeowners with top-quality insulation, on average save 15% in heating and cooling costs. A general rule for insulation is that it is better to have more than less. This rule is applicable for walls, roofs, and floors. Once done, insulation lasts decades and requires no maintenance. The upgrade will also add value to your home. No other home renovation project pays a greater rate of return than insulation.

house insulation

16. Use Landscaping to Become Energy Efficient

Plant trees such deciduous on the west and south sides of your home. They provide great shade during the summer months. After leaves fall in autumn, the bare branches allow the sun to shine through and provide warmth.

17. Use a Dual Flush Toilet

A dual flush toilet is smartly designed for water conservation. The small button is used for liquid, the big one is for solid waste. Correct pressing on the buttons can save a lot of your monthly water bill.

18. Reduce Water Waste

Reduce the water flow of your faucets to avoid water waste and damp clothes. You can achieve this by adjusting water pressure. Moreover, you can also collect the laundry water to flush the toilet, and use the water you washed vegetables and fruits to water the garden.

How energy efficient are you? For each household, energy efficiency can be practiced on different levels. All you have to do is consciously decide that you will be energy efficient. Simple acts like taking shorter showers to save hot water or turning off unnecessary lights translate to energy efficiency. These acts do not require you to make any financial investment. By slowly modifying our way of thinking and adopting energy-saving habits, we can reduce waste and save money. More than that, we can help our environment and leave a better planet for future generations.

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