Free Ways To Save Energy At Home - Part I
by Damien Andrews
Yes, there are indeed some free ways to save energy in your home. And while many of these cost-free methods for reducing the amount of energy you and your family use in your home each month, it's easy to forget about them – until that whopping utility bill arrives. If you really want to see your utility bill drop, then schedule a time and make some changes around the house. Some of the changes that will reduce your energy consumption require a small action or two, but some only require changing habits. The point being, if you really want to save energy and reduce your utility costs, take some action.
Here are a few suggestion for ways that you and your family can save energy at home:
Reset your water heater: You should reset the thermostat on your water heater so that pure hot water running from any tap in your house never exceeds 120°F. Use a thermometer to check the water temperature to achieve the best results. Resetting a water heater thermostat to a desired temperature is usually a process which takes two or three attempts – despite the fact that today most water heaters have setting dials with degree marks on them. You can start by setting the water heater thermostat to 120°F. Then you'll have to wait until the water in the water heater recycles before checking the temperature at the tap. If you reset your water heater thermostat at night just before going to bed, then after everyone showers in the morning give the tank 1-hour to reheat, and then check the water temperature at the tap. If it's still above 120°F, go out and turn it down a little bit more – but not too much at one time. Repeat this process until you get the desired reading at the tap.
Use your microwave oven: Admittedly, the microwave oven is not the best way to cook everything, but you should use it whenever you can – instead of your stove or oven. Use it to heat up your glass of milk before bedtime, and use it to reheat just about everything. Covering your microwave-safe dish with a paper towel or lid will keep the inside of the microwave oven nice and clean, and often helps to expedite the cooking process. A 1,000 watt microwave oven will reheat three slices of pizza in less than 1-minute. To reheat these same three pieces of pizza in a conventional oven takes about 9-minutes at 350°F. Plus, you'll have to let the oven pre-heat, which takes time and uses a LOT of energy. Rethink using your microwave oven and start to include some things you might not have before such as soups, breakfast cereals, vegetables, and so forth.
Cover pots when cooking: When you can't use your microwave oven, be sure to use a cover for your pots and pans when you're cooking on the stove top. This will facilitate faster cooking and reduce the energy the stove uses to bring your food to the desired temperature. Some types of cooking don't allow the use of a cover, such as sauté and even scrambling eggs. But for most stove top applications a lid is acceptable, and will save energy. Using a lid will also keep the food in the pot hot much longer after the heat is turned off – thus (potentially) saving even more energy.
Turn off items not in use: This one thing can make a HUGE difference in your monthly energy bill. Turn everyone in the household into an Energy Cop – constantly policing for anything that is turned on, and not in use. Turn it off! This is one of those things that will require a change in habits for most people, especially kids. Kids will leave their room with a video game running – on hold – and the TV left on to continue playing. Then they get distracted and don't return to the room for 20-minutes. Kids today also want everything fast – so they tend to leave things turned on, even when flipping a switch is all that's necessary to get most items started running immediately. If you leave a room, turn out the lights – even if you're coming back in 30-seconds.
Keep the refrigerator door closed: Again, this is a free energy saving option that will require some habit changes. Decide what you want from the refrigerator BEFORE opening it up. Every time you open the refrigerator, warm air rushes in and replaces cold air. The longer the refrigerator door is open, the more warm air surrounds the items inside the refrigerator. So, if you decide you want a sandwich and go get out the turkey and close the door, and then go back and get the mayo, and then go back and get the pickles, and then go back and get the lettuce – well, you get the point. Before you open the refrigerator, know that you are going to prepare: a turkey sandwich with mayo, pickles, lettuce and tomato. Get everything out at one time. To make all this work out even better, be finicky about refrigerator organization. Make sure that things are put back into their proper place, so the next person does not have to stand with the door open and search for the ketchup.
Replace air system filters often: When the air filter on your heating and cooling system gets clogged, there is less air flow and greater strain on the system itself. This applies not only to central heat and air, but independent heat and air conditioning systems as well. If you have a wall air conditioner, then be sure to keep the filter clean. There really is no specified length of time a filter will last in your system as its service life depends on many factors such as temperature settings and environment. Checking your filters monthly, and then weekly, is the best way to ensure the filter is in good condition.
Keep outside doors closed: Don't leave doors open unless it's actually necessary, such as when you're moving something inside or out. Don't keep going inside and outside of the house for no real reason – this one is for kids. This is another one that will make a dramatic impact on your energy consumption. To see how much difference it makes, you need only come into your house once during the summer or winter – and feel the rush of air come out of the house. Imagine how much conditioned air is lost when someone stands at a door and has a brief conversation with someone outside! You paid to condition all that air – you should keep it inside where it belongs.
Continue to Part II
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