I keep getting letters from my electric company telling me how I compare with my neighbors for energy use. At first I thought it was kind of lame, but I have to admit, I feel pretty good when I see I’m doing better than some of the neighbors – or that I’m on track to reduce my usage for the year. Here are some of the things I’ve been doing to beat out the competition.
Change to halogen bulbs – Halogen bulbs last much longer than other bulb types and are safer to dispose of than compact florescent bulbs. I started using these bulbs in hard to reach fixtures in hallways, the basement and ceiling fixtures. And now that they’ve gotten cheaper – and there’s more variety in wattage – I’m putting them in table lamps.
Air dry clothes – I don’t have space for a clothes line (it doesn’t work in winter anyway) but I have been hanging heavy, long dry-time items like towels, blankets and quilts to dry first . A clothes rack and over the door hooks work well and saves on running my energy hogging electric dryer. If anything needs a little fluffing up, I toss it in the dryer for a few minutes on low or air dry.
Use small appliances – The toaster oven has always been my friend…as is the microwave, so I wasn’t sure what else I could do to avoid using the stove. So I dug out my crock pot and tried out a manual, hand crank mixer (not bad!). Also, cooking on the grill is electricity free, so we moved it closer to the door so we can use it in winter.
Heat appliances – Gadgets that have to warm up or stay hot use more energy, so I’ve been diligent about turning them off and keep coffee warm by using a thermos. To avoid ironing, I get the clothes out of the dryer as soon as they’re done. If there is still some wrinkling, I hang it up, mist with water and then let the wrinkles fall out. I let my hair air dry when I can and use regular rollers instead of heat rollers (just don’t come over when they’re in!).
Furnace filters – an HVAC repairman told me that to keep your furnace running more efficiently, get the cheapest possible filters and change them once a month instead of getting expensive ones that last for several months. The only exception is if you have severe allergies and want to cut down on dust, pet dander, etc… Just make sure your furnace can handle the extra filter thickness. If the air flow is restricted, your furnace needs to work harder.
Thermostat – Programmable thermostats that adjust temperature when you’re home, out or sleeping are big energy savers. I’m home most of the time, so I can’t take advantage of the “at work” down time, but I do turn it down at night. But get this. The same HVAC repairman told me not to adjust the heat down more than 6 degrees at night. The work the furnace has to do to heat more than 6 degrees in the morning eats up all the savings!
What I’m not doing…
Unplug electronics – I am really bad at this even though I know a plugged in device is drawing small amounts of electricity and it can guard against damage during a power outage. I did try power strips with outlets that turn off when not in use, but found them unreliable (as in my DVR didn’t record!). Maybe next year…
Photo by mcluhandarkfold