Earlier this month, we talked about how solar power is changing the game when it comes to energy use, and shared our favorite options for solar powered products that can fuel your summer fun. If you’re planning on camping, grilling, or even just relaxing outside this summer, be sure to check it out!
That got us to thinking about how we can be better about our energy use in other aspects of our lives, even when renewables aren’t necessarily on the table. As it turns out, there are so many seemingly small things that we can change in our daily habits that will have a big impact on our energy use.
Here are just a few small steps that you can take today:
- Change your fan setting so it runs counter-clockwise for the summer. By flipping a switch on your fan (usually found at the base) during the summer months and running it at a faster speed to move the breeze around, your fan will function more efficiently in the summer.
- Turn off kitchen and bath exhaust fans when AC is on. By now, we all know to shut our windows and doors when AC is on to conserve the cool air, but turning off your exhaust fans will save even more.
- Auto-time your thermostat. Rather than keeping your AC running constantly throughout the day when you’re away, turn it off in the morning when you leave and set it up to kick in a bit before you get home. That way, it’ll always be the temperature you desire without wasting energy.
- Set your thermostat to 76 degrees Fahrenheit. For each degree that your air conditioner is set at 75 degrees or below, you use three to five percent more energy, making 76 the most efficient setting.
- Draw curtains and shades when possible. Blocking out the sun when you’re not at home will protect your home against solar heat, and require less energy to cool it down when you need to.
Lighting & Appliances
- Replace standard bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). CFLs give off the same amount of light as incandescent light bulbs, but they’re more energy and cost efficient in the long term.
- Choose light-colored lampshades. Light colored lampshades allow for a greater dissemination of light, so you’ll need fewer lamps to keep your room bright.
- Set your refrigerator temperature between 35 and 38°F. This is all that’s necessary to keep food cold, without overusing energy.
- Keep your freezer full. When your freezer is full, it uses less energy than when it’s empty. **Pro tip: Filling your freezer with large containers of water saves even more energy.
- Wash and dry your clothes in succession. When you take time between loads, your dryer will cool down and require more energy use when you prepare for your next load. **Pro tip: Run full loads whenever you can, and air dry your lightest fabrics, whenever possible.
- Match your pot size to the burner on your stove. When you put a small pot on a large burner, you lose a good amount of unnecessary heat.
- Unplug electronics and turn off power strips when not in use. Many chargers draw power continuously, even when nothing is plugged in or devices are turned off.
- Set your computer to sleep or hibernate when not in use for more than 20 minutes. Doing this instead of using a screen saver uses less electricity during periods of inactivity.
- Use your computer’s power management settings. Check out how your computer is using power, and manage your settings to decrease energy use – it can cause significant savings.
- Adjust your TV settings. If you have the option, switch from the “vivid” to “standard” setting on your TV menu – the former uses up to 20% more power for little visual difference.
If you really want to go big this summer, plant a tree or two! If you plant one on the east, west, or northwest side of your home, it will create shade that will reduce summer air conditioning needs, and could cut your costs by up to 35%.