Energy Saving Tips: 85+ Ways to Save Power
Energy saving tips tend to bring back memories of our dad's frustrated reminders to turn off the light or close the fridge. But few of us became aware until much later how such small actions can make an impact. And it's not only our bank accounts that matter.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 86% of the nation's power comes from fossil fuels. Coal, oil and natural gas are not only finite resources, meaning they won't be here forever, they also produce 21.3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide each year (only half of which can be absorbed by nature), approximately 90% of all greenhouse gas emissions.
Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land. - Aldo Leopold
The following energy saving tips include ideas that will not only save you money and resources but will also help you to decrease your own dependency on fossil fuels.
Don't believe me? We used this tips to pay approximately 30% of what our neighbors pay!
Energy Saving Tips: The Big 4
- Call your representatives.
From the President to your Governors, Senators, members of Congress, Mayors, and City Council members, let them all know your opinion on the use of fossil fuels and alternative energies. Ask them where they stand and what they are doing to support sustainable energy. You may also wish to give them a few energy saving tips to implement city- or state-wide!
- Contact your power company.
Ask them how much of their energy comes from fossil fuels or nuclear power and ask them to increase their support of solar, wind and geothermal energies.
- Support green energy initiatives.
Push for and actively support tax credits for green or alternative energies or other sustainable energy initiatives.
- Schedule an energy audit.
Most power companies offer a free or inexpensive energy audit that will tell you where you energy is being used and what you can do to improve your home's efficiency with personalized energy saving tips.
Energy Saving Tips: Lighting
- Turn off the lights.
Let's get the more obvious of energy saving tips out of the way first by turning off lights in rooms that that aren't in use or in rooms that are naturally light enough.
- Use fewer lights.
Do you really need 3 lamps in one room? Can you use a small book lamp instead of an overhead light for reading? Use as little as possible without causing eye strain.
- Switch to energy-efficient bulbs.
LED's (light emitting diodes), such as these, use about 20% the energy and last up to 12 times longer. This is because regular bulbs create more heat than light, thus using more energy.
- Use an oil lantern.
Some lanterns are even designed to run off waste vegetable oil, easily obtainable for free from restaurants or your own kitchen, making this just one of the energy saving tips that also saves you money.
- Utilize daylight hours.
Open your shades or install a skylight to avoid the use of lighting during the day.
Energy Saving Tips: Heating and Cooling
- Programmable thermostat
Using a programmable thermostat can cut your bill by as much as HALF by automatically adjusting the temps when you are sleeping or gone for the day, so you don't have to worry about forgetting.
- 26 Home Heating Tips
There are just too many tips for efficient home heating to list here, so be sure to check out our article on home heating tips.
- 28 Home Cooling Tips
The same applies for making your AC run more efficiently, or far less. Check out our complete article on home cooling tips here.
Energy Saving Tips: Fridge/Freezer
- Energy-efficient appliances.
If your appliance is more than 10 years old, upgrading to a newer more efficient model can save hundreds on your power bill each year. Look for the Energy-Star rating and read the FTC Energy Rating tag when choosing your next appliance.
- Close the fridge!
Turns out Dad was right. Fridges and freezers are responsible for approximately 1/3 of your electric bill and leaving the door open too long accounts for increased cooling up to 25%. Make Dad happy by deciding what you want before you open the door by keeping your snack list and meal plan stuck to the door for everyone to see.
- Check the seal on your fridge and freezer.
A broken seal will cause your unit to run unnecessarily. Place a sheet of paper between the fridge and the door as you close it. Once closed, if it pulls out easily, it's time to replace the seal.
- Opt for a box freezer.
Cold air is heavier and falls to the bottom. With a box freezer (with a door on top) keeps cold air in better when opened and reduces the amount of time the unit runs.
- Get a freezer-on-bottom fridge.
For the same reasons as the box freezer, refrigerators with freezers on the bottom are much more efficient.
- Vacuum fridge and freezer coils.
This should be done twice a year to ensure your unit is running easily.
- Fill the fridge and freezer space.
Dead space takes more energy to cool. Fill a partially empty fridge or freezer with jugs of cool water instead.
- Do not place hot foods in a fridge.
Allowing your foods to cool to room temperature ensures your unit will not have to work as hard to keep the inside air cold.
- Thaw in the fridge.
Frozen items will throw off their cold air into the fridge, thus assisting it in keeping things cool.
- Keep the fridge cool.
Place it away from direct sunlight, the stove or oven and the dishwasher to reduce its energy consumption.
- Reset the thermostat
Experiment with higher settings on your fridge's temperature setting by adjusting it to slightly warmer than its recommended setting.
- Make your own ice.
Automatic ice makers use unnecessary energy and are prone to breakdown. Likewise, cold air can be lost through in-door dispensers with poor seals.
Energy Saving Tips: Dishwasher
- Rinse in cold water.
Whether pre-rinsing dishes for the dishwasher or rinsing handwashed dishes, do so with cold water.
- Skip the dry cycle.
Open the dishwasher's door and allow the dishes to air dry.
- Select a shorter cycle.
Pre-rinsing (using water conservation tips) can enable you to use shorter wash cycles and save energy.
- Only wash full loads.
Run the dishwasher less often by filling it completely.
- Consider handwashing.
If your dishwasher is old and you can't yet replace it with a more efficient model, consider handwashing to save energy and possibly water.
- Maintain your machine.
Keeping your machine in good working order and free of buildup will help extend the lifespan and save you money on major repairs that become necessary as a result of neglect.
Energy Saving Tips: Washing Machine
- Wash only full loads.
Use the energy to wash many items, instead of just a few articles of clothing.
- Wash less often.
Wearing your clothing a few more times will save energy, even if you have to run the machine a few extra minutes for heavily soiled clothing.
- Wash in cold water.
You'll use less energy reheating water for your water heater.
- Purchase a front-load washer.
As well as using less water, the movement of the clothing is much more efficient in cleaning.
- Consider handwashing.
Washing boards or hand-powered "machines" are easy to use for lightweight clothing.
- Keep your machine level and steady.
Unbalanced legs on a machine can cause it to work harder and wear down faster. And excessive vibration can cause wear and tear and inefficient usage. Using something like recycled vibration pads can help with both issues at once.
- Maintain your machine.
As with dishwashers, regular maintenance is important to extend the life of your appliance.
Energy Saving Tips: Clothes Dryer
- Line dry whenever possible.
An outdoor clothesline during warmer months or a retractable or foldable indoor clothesline during colder months can help you eliminate the use of your dryer almost completely.
- Keep the lint filter clean.
Empty it after each use and wash it regularly. Warm soapy water 2-3 times a year will prevent buildup of oils, soaps or dryer sheet film that will clog your filter and reduce your dryer's efficiency.
- Don't overload the dryer.
Too many clothes reduce the dryer's efficiency by taking longer to dry.
- Don't overdry clothing.
Use a moisture sensor or test the clothing yourself and set the machine to the shortest drying cycle.
- Dry separately.
Heavy materials, such as towels or jeans, should be dried separately from lightweight clothing, which will dry faster on their own.
- Ensure proper ventilation.
Most energy saving tips tell you to prevent drafts but few tell you to watch for proper ventilation. Poor ventilation can cause overheating and lower the machine's efficiency, as well as increase the air temperature in your home and cause an increase in your air conditioning consumption.
- Dry loads back-to-back.
A large part of the energy use of dryers is in getting them hot. Drying loads back-to-back will minimize the need for reheating after cooling.
Energy Saving Tips: Electronics
- Shop energy-efficiency.
Look for LCD screens and Energy Star computers and electronics when updating or replacing machines.
- Use power strips.
Most electronics continue to draw power when turned off. This is called a "phantom load" or "vampire power" and can be avoided by plugging into power strips that are turned off between uses.
- Buy all-in-one electronics.
A TV with DVD player included may use less energy than a separate television and device player. Be sure to check Energy Guide labels for individual power consumption.
- Laptops are more efficient.
Laptops and notebooks use approximately 25% the average power used by a desktop!
- Turn off your screen.
Screensavers do not save power. Turn off your screen when stepping away for short periods of time.
- Use your energy-saving settings.
Most computers now allow you to choose settings that save power. Find a setting that allows you and your computer to work efficiently.
- Utilize sleep mode or shut it down.
If you're walking away from more than an hour, consider shutting down your machine completely. If you can't shut it down, save your work and put it into sleep mode when you step away.
- Turn off computer accessories.
Scanners, printers and even some personal faxes can be shut down until needed, thus saving their standby energy.
- Unplug chargers.
Chargers continue to draw energy, even when they aren't charging anything. Only plug them in as needed.
- Don't charge cell phones overnight.
Most cell phones only require a few hours to reach a full charge. Try charging your cell at your desk or during the evening and unplugging by bedtime.
- Upgrade wisely.
Many people upgrade to a whole new computer when all they need is extra RAM or they simply want the newest model. Upgrade less often and do so by purchasing the least possible.
Energy Saving Tips: Water Heater
- Set the temperature.
Set your water heater to "Low" or no higher than 120 degrees. Just keep in mind that if it is so low you are using only the hot water faucet during showers, you are likely still using the same amount of gas to refill the entire tank with hot water.
- Insulate the tank.
Wrapping your hot water tank will help it work less to keep the water warm.
- Insulate pipes
Heat can be lost to cold pipes, so wrap them well and save energy.
- Take shorter, cooler showers.
Save energy by minimizing hot water use in the shower and by avoiding baths.
- Do regular maintenance.
Most manufacturers give instructions for removing buildup of sediment within the tank or maintaining lines, all of which will help your tank run more efficiently.
- Look into alternatives.
Tankless water heaters or solar hot water heaters use far less to virtually no energy in heating the water.
Energy Saving Tips: Stove and Oven
- Avoid preheating when possible.
Often we preheat for longer than necessary. Unless the recipe is more precise, turn the oven on when you place food inside and take advantage of all the heat.
- Group baking.
Baking several things at once (your bread with your casserole), or make double batches for easy-to-reheat leftovers.
- Consider a slow cooker.
Depending on the length of cooking required, a slow cooker or crock pot may be more efficient and cost-effective than using the oven.
- Check the oven's seal.
A poorly sealed oven will waste half your energy trying to stay at the accurate temperature.
- Use the oven light.
Instead of opening the door to check on foods, switch on the oven light to see inside without losing heat.
- Turn the oven off early.
The captured heat will finish the last few minutes of cooking without the added energy.
- Utilize the oven heat.
While the oven is baking, use the vented heat to thaw foods, melt butter or keep dishes warm.
- Warm the kitchen.
After baking in the winter, leave the oven door open to allow the warm air to heat up your home a bit more.
- Use a kitchen vent in the summer.
Heat from the stove or the oven should be removed from the kitchen as quickly as possible with an oven fan/vent to prevent your AC from working overtime. (For more energy saving tips on your AC, check out the energy-efficient cooling page.)
- Use lids on pots and pans.
You'll capture the heat and enable yourself to use a lower setting.
- Use the correct sized burner.
Larger burners used for smaller pots or pans will throw off as much heat as it uses.
- Don't "over-boil" water.
When making pastas or boiling eggs, bring the water to a rolling boil, add the food, cover the pot or pan and shut the heat off. The hot water will continue to cook the food without using any additional energy. Also, it takes less energy to keep liquid at a boil than it does to bring it to a boil, so even if you can't turn the burner off, you can still turn it down.
- Invest in a solar oven.
Whether homemade or professional grade, sun ovens are efficient and can reach temps up to 400 degrees in full sun.
- Or try an outdoor oven.
These are usually woodburning, but often use much less material to burn, especially things like a rocket stove. Check out some ideas on how to build one of your own right here too.
- Cut food into small pieces.
Smaller pieces of potato or veggies cook faster and will use less energy.
- Don't use too much water.
When boiling water or pasta, use only the amount of water necessary to cover the food and allow for expansion. Heating less water is more efficient and will cut down on time.
- Use an electric kettle.
Electric kettles boil water faster and more efficiently - they can be used for making tea or boiling water for small meals.
- Invest in a convection or toaster oven.
Convection and toaster ovens use less energy than heating in an oven or microwave (and it's much healthier than nuking your food).
- Plan your meals and defrost ahead of time.
You'll save energy when you avoid defrosting in the oven, stovetop or microwave. As mentioned above, defrost overnight in the fridge to utilize the cold air released to keep the fridge cooler.
- Invest in a multi-use pot.
Some stock pots have a small strainer that sits above the water level, allowing you to cook pasta in the pot and steam vegetables at the same time.
- Make one-pan/pot meals.
One skillet meals are easy, use less energy and take less time to clean-up.
- Cook on the top rack of the oven.
Keep your food closer to the heating element and cut your cooking time by up to 20%.
Energy Saving Tips: Other
Most irons take a very small amount of time to heat up, so don't turn yours on until right before you need it. And turn it off before you're done - the residual heat will finish the job.
- Gas Fireplaces
Check that your fireplace is well-insulated and working properly. Keep burners clean and clear. If yours does not efficiently heat the room by letting off ample heat, consider having it converted to a wood-burning fireplace or opting for a space heater instead.
- Consider a power-controlling device.
These devices help maintain a minimized amount of energy to older, less-efficient appliances and can help extend the motor's lifespan.
- Opt for rechargeable batteries.
New hybrid Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) cell batteries are more efficient and are better able to maintain a charge over longer periods.
- Try a Kill-A-Watt
These devices show you which appliances need to be unplugged by showing you their vampire energy. Grab one of these and be sure to share it with friends.
- Learn more!
Check out the home heating and home cooling pages for dozens more energy saving tips.
And last but not least...
- Share more!
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