Saving energy is paramount today, especially if you need to tighten your belt during the pandemic. At home, there are two ways you can do so: by changing the way you operate your electronics and appliances and installing more energy-efficient systems or devices.
Before you rush off to buy appliances with inverters, industry experts suggest assessing how you use your appliances and gadgets at home. Negligence or wasteful use of appliances are often the culprits in high energy bills. Energysage.com recommends the following to save energy with your current appliances:
- Unplug your appliances when you aren’t using them. The reason for this is what they call phantom energy. Even when turned off, appliances plugged in continue to consume power. If you leave your machines and devices connected, you’ll be paying for electricity that you didn’t use. Phantom or vampire energy accounts for $165 per household, on average, or $19 billion for all US households annually, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. That is a lot.
- Don’t leave chargers plugged in without the device. Many people remove their phones, tablets, and cameras from the charger but leave the charger plugged into the socket. Apart from its potential to start a fire, leaving your charger allows it to suck power from the source without dispensing that power to charge a device. Again, it’s wasted consumption not used for its intended purpose.
- Hang clothes to dry instead of using the dryer. If you’re not in a hurry to wear the pieces of clothing you just washed, let them dry naturally. You don’t consume electricity by hanging your clothes out in the sun or air.
- Change the way you operate your lights. If you’re using traditional fluorescent bulbs, they light up the traditional way, which requires some time to heat up and glow. The process of heating up consumes more energy than lighting up the bulb, so if you turn your light on and off all the time, you won’t be saving energy.
Newer technology doesn’t need this complex process and can start in a fraction of a second. If you’re using compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs, or halogen incandescent bulbs, you may turn lights on and off as you please. Doing so, though, can shorten their lifespan, which leads to higher replacement costs.
Energy.gov recommends the 15-minute rule to maximize energy savings: leave the lights on if you’ll be gone for 15 minutes or less, and turn them off if you’ll be out of the room for more than 15 minutes.
- Don’t just save the screen, save energy. Did you really believe screensavers save energy? Not much, experts say. By running your computer’s screensaver, your machine continues to consume electricity. If you don’t want to turn off your desktop computer just yet, at least turn off the monitor when not in use.
- To sleep or hibernate? For laptops, choose hibernation over sleepto save more power. Here’s how. While both power down your machine when not in use, the sleep mode saves files on the RAM and hibernation saves files on the hard disk. The sleep mode requires a small amount of power to maintain the RAM so that it could bring up your files where you left them when you reawaken your machine. Hibernation doesn’t need to keep anything running, and it can power off completely. Its only difference with the shutdown is that it opens your files and programs up the way you left them.
Install Energy-saving Systems
Now that you’ve changed the way you use your appliances and devices, you may replace the power-sucking systems with energy-efficient ones.
- Energy-efficient lights. Although conventional incandescent bulbs are cheaper on initial purchase, their lifespan is shorter and they consume more power. Experts suggest using LED lights, CFLs, and halogen incandescent bulbs, which consume up to 80% less power and last up to 25 times longer than traditional bulbs.
- Programmable thermostat. With programmable thermostats, set a time for your HVAC system to turn on or off once it has achieved the right room temperature. It’s useful when you’re sleeping or out of the house. It keeps your home warm or cool the way you want it without you having to do it each time. Some models may include alerts for changing filters or carrying out system maintenance. A programmable thermostat can save up to $180 each year, on average.
- Solar panels for your property. Solar panel installation and use are cheaper than other alternative energy generation technologies like natural gas, hydro, and geothermal. Solar power panels usually generate energy in the afternoon (when the sun is higher) and during summer. It fits well with consumer behavior; energy use for air conditioners is higher when it’s hotter. While some solar power companies charge a fixed rate for power, no matter the time of day, there are utility companies that offer pricing schemes. The latter charge homeowners varying rates throughout the day or in different seasons to reflect actual electricity production cost—higher in the afternoon and lower at night. If you want to take advantage of the low power price at night, a PV solar array will be useful. Some cities offer tax incentives for solar-powered homes, too.
Recent developments in lighting, HVAC, computer, and alternative energy technologies are helping homeowners save more on their utility bills. It’s just a matter of being mindful of your power usage and what you can do to lower it.