As the temperatures rise, so does our daily energy use. You can thank the humidity as well as the heat. You’re likely blasting your air conditioning during the hottest time of the day to stay cool, which usually coincides with the hours that energy prices are at their highest. The desire to be comfortable at home leads to poor energy choices, but it doesn’t have to.
Many people use energy without considering what the consequences will be. Does the small act of turning off a light or lowering the air conditioning really make a difference? Sometimes it’s hard to look at the big picture. It’s much easier to concentrate on areas where we are directly impacted, like our utility bill.
There are multiple benefits of energy conservation, including a lower utility bill and a healthier environment. Even small changes in your energy consumption can make a huge impact.
Why Is It Important to Conserve Energy?
Every time we flip a switch, turn on the faucet, or plug in a laptop, we’re using energy.
It’s instantaneous. The lights come on. The water flows. The “welcome” screen on the laptop greets us. But what goes unseen is the release of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxide.
Traditional methods of power generation unleash these gases. It’s a punishment to the planet. Smog ruins our breathable air. Temperatures around the world rise and fall haphazardly.
We need energy, but we also need to reduce our overall consumption. Take the first steps by creating an energy conservation plan this summer.
What Are the Benefits of Energy Conservation?
Saving money is the first reason most people research energy conservation. It’s a fantastic motivator, but not the only energy conservation benefit to keep in mind. Don’t forget about other benefits, including keeping our environment safe and clean, boosting the economy, and protecting fragile ecosystems like reefs.
It’s easier to conserve energy at home because you have control over your usage. Small actions such as turning the lights off to installing a smart thermostat can make a big impact.
The truth is, energy conservation at home is surprisingly simple. You don’t need a huge budget for complicated home improvement projects. All you need is a goal and a good idea of where you are using the most energy.
Energy conservation helps people live better. Or rather, more comfortably. Consider home insulation, for example. Cold air is less likely to escape your home during warm summer days if your home is properly insulated. A well-insulated home helps during the winter by preventing warm air from dissipating. You won’t need to blast the air conditioner or heater as often.
Help the Economy
Help the local economy flourish with energy efficient products and appliances. When you lower your energy consumption, you decrease your communities reliance on imported energy sources keeping money in your state or city. Demand for more-efficient appliances and buildings spurs innovation and creates new jobs for the development and delivery of energy-saving products, smart devices, and management services.
It’s not just your local community that benefits, however. For citizens and businesses all over the country, energy efficient practices can save millions or even billions of dollars. Carbon-free or carbon-neutral energy alternatives like solar panels, wind turbines, hydropower are becoming more common around the world.
We’re less likely to rely on conflict-burdened areas for energy when efficient solutions temper our demand. Right now, our country depends on oil from other nations. Oil fuels our cars, trucks, and airplanes. We rely on it for electricity and heat generation, but using it comes at great cost to the environment.
The consumption of fossil fuels like oil causes water and air pollution, affecting our health and innumerable ecosystems. Using carbon-free resources (such as the sun, water, and wind) is a safer option that’s feasible for many countries with the proper infrastructure.
How Does Energy Conservation Save Me Money?
Conserving energy is a money-saver because reducing consumption lowers your utility bill, especially during on-peak hours when rates may be higher.
Overconsumption starts small. It could be as innocuous as using the dishwasher for every cup and bowl, regardless if it’s full or not. Maybe it’s something like running the dryer, full duration, for a just couple socks and t-shirts.
Appliances (like the two in the above example) can make up 30% or more of your household energy usage. You’ll see it add up on your usage meter. Changing your energy usage habits and using energy-efficient appliances and smarter devices, can impact your finances.
Don’t get overwhelmed! While there are many actions you can take to save energy this summer, you don’t have to do them all. Even just a few small changes can have an impact. Read the six tips below and see which ones will work for your family.
Purchase Energy Efficient Appliances
Some household appliances are specifically built for energy efficiency. Using these appliances consumes less energy than non-efficient appliances. It also reduces the amount you owe on your utility bill.
Keeping costs in mind is important. You may only be thinking about the upfront costs of buying the appliance, but what about the monthly costs of using it? Washing machines, dryers, and refrigerators can devour energy if they’re old, poorly-maintained, or weren’t built for efficiency. Your utility bill reflects their energy efficiency. While a new dryer might cost a few hundred dollars, you can recoup that cost over a few years.
ENERGY STAR Appliances
So, how do you know if a new appliance is energy efficient? Look for the Energy Star® label. This label signifies the appliance is certified by the government to reduce energy costs by a minimum of 30%.
You can find the Energy Star® label on many common household appliances including
- Water heaters
- HVAC systems
Smart appliances can also reduce energy consumption at home. They connect wirelessly. It’s possible to set your appliances to be used during off-peak hours, reducing the cost on your utility bills. Types of smart appliances include light bulbs, thermostats, and air conditioners.
Replace Your Regular Light Bulbs With Smart Light Bulbs
Smart bulbs are LED light bulbs that can be controlled using an electronic device such as a table, smartphone, or home automation system.
Regular (incandescent) light bulbs consume more energy than smart light bulbs. In fact, smart bulbs use up to 75% less energy than traditional bulbs. As a bonus, their lifespan can far outlast regular light bulbs (by up to 25,000 hours of use or more).
How Do Smart Light Bulbs Work?
Smart bulbs turn on and off by connecting wirelessly to a smart device for usage control. This allows you to turn them on or off as well as change the intensity or color of the light. They can also be configured to work with motion sensors for safety.
Forget to turn off the lights before leaving the house? Want to turn on a light while you are out of town? Now you can control it all from your smartphone or tablet.
Give Your AC a Break
When it’s hot, you’re far more likely to run the AC at all hours. It’s simple, easy, and effectively cools the house down, but it’s also a massive energy drain—especially during peak hours.
How to Use the AC Less This Summer
One of the easiest ways to save energy is to replace your HVAC system with an ENERGY STAR rated system. However, that isn’t always feasible. There are a few other ways you can reduce your AC usage.
If you’re fortunate enough to experience cool breezes at night, it’s more energy efficient to keep the windows open. This will let in cool air and help lower the temperature in your rooms. When you wake up, close the windows so the cold air is trapped inside.
You can also close the blinds to keep the sun from heating up your house. Heavy drapes on windows that get a lot of sun can keep the heat out, enhancing energy efficiency.
If you have a large home and like your room cool for sleeping, it may be more energy efficient to use a window unit in your bedroom rather than cooling the entire house down.
Get a Fan or Two
A fan can help circulate cold air when the air conditioner is on. Instead of the air sitting stagnate in one corner, the fan distributes it around the room.
For places where cold air can’t reach (like to the top floor of a house), using a fan can help. You can opt for ceiling fans, standing fans, or box fans—whichever you prefer.
Try propping the fan against an open window at night. It’ll blow cold air in, or you can turn it around to blow humid air out. Fans can also disperse and remove humidity. For instance, a bathroom fan can suck heat out after a hot shower.
Break Out the Grill
Cooking inside can really heat your home up. It gets even worse if you are using both the stove and the oven. In addition to using energy to cook, the added heat will likely cause your AC to turn on.
If you can, opt to use the microwave to cook meals. It uses less energy and generates less heat compared to the stove and oven. But the microwave isn’t the solution for every meal. You can also opt for no-cook meals, like salads and wraps.
Our favorite way to cook during the hot summer months is to break out the grill. Cooking outdoors results in a savory meal and helps keep the heat out of your kitchen. To be even more energy efficient, consider batch prepping.
Use a Smart Thermostat
Traditional thermostats use mercury to turn the air conditioner on and off and adjust the temperatures in the home. Digital thermostats are more common these days, and they often allow you to set temperatures for specific times. For example, you can set the AC to go up a few degrees after you leave for work and cool back down before you head home.
Smart thermostats are more intuitive. They allow you to remotely see and control the temperature of your home in real-time. A smart thermostat can also adjust the temperature based on the amount of humidity inside your home.
The coolest part about a smart thermostat? You decide what your smart thermostat does. You can set it to automatically turn off or on at certain hours in the day. With the device, you won’t worry about leaving the AC on for too long either. All you need is a web app or phone to
manage your smart thermostat.
The ecobee is an easy-to-program smart thermostat. You can remotely adjust the temperature of your home from virtually anywhere. It’s an intuitive, energy-efficient device that uses information about temperatures outdoors as well as the characteristics of your home to keep it comfortable.
Energy Conservation Starts Small
As you can see, energy conservation doesn’t have to be overwhelming. The smallest changes, such as deciding to grill out tonight, can make a difference. The list above will help you find changes that work in your life so you can start saving money and help protect our environment.