You may have already made some New Year’s resolutions regarding your relationships with your waistline. But January is also the perfect time of year to think seriously about energy solutions and resolve to make energy conservation a priority in the coming months. After all, that’s a resolution that can benefit not only your pocketbook, but the entire planet.
There are some energy-saving tips you’ve probably heard over and over; for example, you can reduce your heating and cooling costs by about 10% when you install a programmable thermostat. But there are plenty more ways to cut down on energy use without sacrificing your quality of life. Here are five ideas to get you started:
1. Slay Power Vampires
You may have invited energy-sucking vampires into your home without even knowing it. In the context of power usage, a “vampire” is an appliance that draws power even when it’s not in use. Having these various devices on in stand-by mode can increase your power usage by up to 15%. One easy way to shut these devices down completely is to hook them up to a plugstrip you can easily switch off.
2. Upgrade Your Bulbs
This one is about as easy as it gets in terms of energy solutions. Change out the incandescent light bulbs in your house for compact fluorescent ones. As long as you look for “soft white,” you won’t get that industrial feel. If you really want to go high tech, consider investing in LED bulbs.
3. Let the Sunshine In
Take advantage of helpful weather, and shut bad weather out. That means opening up blinds and curtains to let the sun warm your home when you can, and making sure wind and cold can’t get in. You may want to consider a professional energy audit, which can let you know what areas of your home are losing energy or letting the elements in; you’ll save money in the long run.
4. Use Appliances Efficiently
The energy used to heat water in your home probably makes up a significant portion of your utility bills -- 14 to 18%, on average. Wash clothes in cold water, and only run the dishwasher when it’s full. If you or your family members tend to lose track of time in the shower, putting a timer in the bathroom (or even a small hourglass that can attach to the shower wall with a suction cup) can ensure that shower lengths stay under control.
5. Scour Your Electric Bill
Take a good look at your electric bill. It’s possible that you’re living in a deregulated energy market, meaning that you can choose an alternative electric supplier. You can even deepen your commitment to renewable energy by selecting a provider that uses green energy sources.
What other energy solutions should people consider for the new year? Add your ideas in the comments.