Saving Energy/Fuel In The Home
Gas prices, electric charges and cost of living are on the rise. It’s costing more in Ohio and around the country to fuel our home and habits. Here are some ways to save money and energy at home. Not to mention, helping the environment. Now is a great time to start.
Whenever you save energy, you not only save money, you also reduce the demand for such fossil fuels as coal, oil, and natural gas. Less burning of fossil fuels also means lower emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the primary contributor to global warming, and other pollutants.
The average American produces about 40,000 pounds of CO2 emissions per year. Together, we use nearly a million dollars worth of energy every minute, night and day, every day of the year in this country.
By doing and practicing even some of these tips, you can cut your yearly emissions and your lower electric and heating bills will be your incentive, proof and motivation. Pass these tips on so everyone is on board. These tips make a great gift for your friends, family and planet.
Cooking And Saving Energy. It’s Possible!
- Covered pots or pans will boil or steam faster, allowing lower temperature settings.
- Cook outdoors, (Yes even in the winter) use a microwave oven, or prepare cold meals to avoid heating up the kitchen. Microwaves use less than half the power of a conventional oven and cook food in about one-fourth the time.
- Use small appliances like a toaster oven or electric skillet. On average, they use half the energy of a full-size oven.
- Turn off the surface element or oven a few minutes before cooking time is up. The pot is still hot enough to continue cooking.
- Don’t line oven racks with foil. It blocks the heat flow and makes the oven work harder to cook food.
- Do your heavy summer cooking in the cooler early morning or evening hours. Try to use the range top more, the oven less.
- It takes energy to heat water so use as little as possible. Most frozen or fresh vegetables can be cooked in a quarter cup of water. Even eggs will cook in this reduced amount if the pan has a tight-fitting lid.
- In the oven, cook as many dishes as possible at one time. Foods with cooking temperatures within 25 degrees can be cooked simultaneously at the same temperature.
- Preheat the oven only when necessary. Many foods don’t require it if you’re not baking. This will give your food a jump start on cooking and utilize the heat that is already in there. Why let it go to waste?
- Don’t peek into the oven. Each time the door is opened, the temperature drops 25 to 50 degrees. Turn the oven light on instead or time your meals properly using the oven or microwave timer.
- With stews, soups, spaghetti sauces, stocks and other foods that need long cooking times, cook in large quantities and freeze in meal-sized portions. You’ve saved energy for yourself this way too.
- Use a pressure cooker. It cuts cooking time to one-third that of conventional methods. Use a pressure cooker if possible.
- After cleaning your oven or cooking in it, leave the oven door open during the cold/winter months to help heat your kitchen.
- Here’s my favorite tip: If you’re going to clean your oven using the self cleaning function, do it while the oven is already hot.
Being Smart and Conserve Energy While Doing Laundry
- Don’t use the extra rinse on your washing machine. It’s not necessary. Also, more detergent doesn’t make your clothes cleaner. If anything it can leave residue, stain your clothes and requires more rinsing to get rid of.
- Don’t put too many clothes in the dryer. Leave room for air to properly circulate. Overloading you dryer can lead to extra energy use along with wrinkled clothes. You can break up heavy loads into two. Towels, blue jeans, etc.
- Try using warm or cold settings to dry, especially for permanent press clothes.
- Make sure your dryer lint filter is kept clean at all times. It should be emptied after each load. This will reduce energy and dry time. It can also prolong the life if your dryer.
- Don’t over dry your clothes. When you fluff them, make sure to get them out immediately. You can save ironing this way also.
- The dryer will run most efficiently when drying clothes of the same thickness. Avoid drying jeans with cotton for example.
- Do two or more loads in a row. The dryer is already hot, so utilize this existing energy. When possible, use an outdoor clothesline rather than a dryer. (Especially large blankets) You can even hang them to dry in your basement. Sweaters, sheets, light cotton work great hung dry.
- Most of the energy in a washing machine is used to heat the water. Use warm or cold water when possible, and always rinse with cold water.
Heating Your Home During The Cold/Winter Months
- Seal up areas where heat escapes such as windows, doors, bathroom vents, and chimneys. Insulate attics and walls. Your current caulk, weather-stripping may be worn or gone. Double check your seals every year.
- Check the manufacturer’s label before insulating your water heater; set the temperature to about 120 degrees.
- Properly maintain your heating system – have it inspected and cleaned annually; replace furnace filters once a month during the heating season, or as needed. You can also clean them with a vacuum or wash them in the bathtub/utility sink and dry.
- Be careful not to overheat or overcool rooms. In the winter, set your thermostat at 68 degrees in daytime, and 55 degrees at night. In the summer, keep it at 78. Lowering your thermostat just two degrees during winter saves 6 percent of heating-related CO2 emissions. That’s a reduction of 420 pounds of CO2 per year for a typical home.
- Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed; make sure furniture, carpeting and drapes do not block them.
- Reduce the thermostat setting when everyone is asleep or away from the home. Consider installing a programmable thermostat.
- Close the damper on your wood stove and/or fireplace when not in use.
- Invest in energy efficient appliances. Look for appliances with the EnergyStar label.
- Use less hot water by installing low-flow shower heads. They cost just $10 to $20 each, deliver an invigorating shower, and save 300 pounds of CO2 per year for electrically heated water, or 80 pounds for gas-heated water.
Conservation leads to savings in the home. Don’t let that precious air escape or that unwanted air in.
- First, check your attic insulation. If it is sparse or badly settled, consider adding more to bring it up to a minimum of R-30. Air leakage accounts for about 30% of heating expenses. Take time to patch places where heat could escape.
- Use caulk or expanding spray foam to seal around pipes and wires that lead from the attic or crawl space into the home.
- Also, caulk cracks around masonry fireplaces and keep the damper closed when not in use. Weather-strip and insulate attic doors and pull downs.
- It’s smart to check and inspect for the seasonal changes by checking your home’s insulation and plugging leaks to the outside.
Light Bulbs. You Use Them, You’ve Heard About Them. Now Understand Them.
- Buy energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs for your most-used lights. Although they cost more initially, they save money in the long run by using only 1/4 the energy of regular incandescent bulbs and lasting 8-12 times longer. They provide the same level of bright, attractive light. Only 10% of the energy consumed by a normal light bulb generates light. The rest just makes the bulb hot. If every American household replaced one of its standard light bulbs with an energy efficient compact fluorescent bulb, we would save the same amount of energy as a large nuclear power plant produces in one year. In a typical home, one compact fluorescent bulb can save 260 pounds of CO2 per year.
- Make sure you don’t turn these lights off and on frequently. They cost the most to run when you first turn them on and while they’re getting brighter. Once they’re at their brightest, that’s when they’re most energy efficient. Try using and keeping these lights where you’ll need long-term lighting. The bathroom isn’t the best place for these bulbs unless you’re in there a while!
Windows, windows, windows. They’re our outlet to the outside world, and one of our biggest enemies when it comes to saving energy.
- Modernize your windows. Replacing all your ordinary windows with argon filled, double-glazed windows saves 2.4 tons of CO2 per year for homes with gas heat, 3.9 tons of oil heat, and 9.8 tons for electric heat. Of course this is an expensive upgrade, but when it needs to be done, at least feel good knowing you’ll be saving for a very long time and adding value to your home.
- If you can’t swing new windows, make sure you keep them covered in the winter/cold months. There are great winterizing kits sold now. This will seal up the window frame. Use blinds and heavy drapes to keep out warm and cold air. Make sure you use your storm windows. Also, lock your windows. It creates a tight seal that you won’t get if they’re unlocked.
- Caulk cracks around window and door moldings, and weather-strip around door frames and at the top of the bottom of window sashes.
If you have additional tips, share them below! We’d love to keep this list going for new homeowners in the future and those looking to save on their fuel and energy costs. It’s not just for our wallets, but for our planet.