One of the most important things that consumers can do to leave a smaller carbon footprint is to use less electricity. For years, we’ve heard all about sealing cracks around windows, using cold water for all laundry, and turning off unneeded lights.
So what can be done to make further reductions without destroying the very conveniences that drive the need for electricity in the first place?
When you need information like this, you go directly to the source. Customers of EPCOR power have a good list of options to choose from for cutting their use. The utility puts out this information to help consumers because the company greatly prefers to see more modest use during hot spells and cold spells than to see brownouts and blackouts.
Much of what they recommend builds on tips you already know, but a few things are new.
Building On: Using Lights Sparingly.
It’s a great habit to shut off lights in unused rooms and to make sure that all but the bare essentials are off at bedtime. Many consumers also know they should lower the wattage in the bulbs they use. Remember that the fixtures tell the maximum bulb size, not the minimum. So a socket that can go up to 60 watts can still be used with a 40-watt bulb.
But you can take it even further. Old-style incandescent bulbs are notoriously inefficient, especially compared to modern LED units. These bulbs last longer and use less electricity, which is more than enough to compensate for the higher initial cost.
What about bathroom fans?
They rarely keep the room entirely steam-free, so why should you pull your home’s warmth or coolness into the attic? Leave the fan off while you’re in the shower, then open the bathroom door as soon as possible to let the rush of cooler, dryer air clear out the bathroom.
Building On: Turning Off Unused Items.
We all know that televisions and space heaters should be shut off when not in use. But there are countless other electrical leeches in the home that we might not think about.
Chargers are a famous example. It may not seem like a big use of power to leave the charger for a phone or other device plugged in when it’s not being used.
Wrong. While it’s minuscule, chargers do use a tiny bit of electricity when not plugged into the device. Other electronics consume even more; there are calculators to help you quantify the consumption of different types of household electrical equipment.
So look around the house at everything that uses electricity and consider how you can cut back. Think of your water heater. It is probably too inconvenient and potentially damaging to the appliance to cut off its electricity daily, but if you’re going out of town for a few days, there’s no reason for it to run around the clock to maintain a tank full of hot water. Instead, turn it off. And at the same time, you would be wise to turn off the water to your home in case a pipe bursts while you’re gone.
Building On: Managing Your Thermostat.
Programmable thermostats, including units with remote operation via cell phone, have done a great job of helping us to keep the appropriate temperature in our homes without running up the power bill.
But don’t make the thermostat go it alone. We know that a nice shade tree can help, but we can also do some other things. Manage your window blinds carefully; if you want to add heat to the home, open them during the day. To maintain cooler temps, leave the blinds closed.
As you redecorate or build a home, consider your perception of temperature. If you have hardwood, tile, or linoleum, have seasonal rugs to use during the winter so that you don’t get cold feet. Put them away for warm weather to enjoy the cool surfaces in the summer.
We can go green in the way that we shop, drive, eat, and work. There are limitless opportunities to reduce our impact on the environment. It just takes some careful strategy based on good advice to make it happen.