Before the pandemic, many family homes sat dormant during the day, while parents went to work and kids went from school to activities. Energy conservation was as easy as making sure all the lights were off, unused electronics were unplugged, and the thermostat was set to an appropriate setting. However, as companies turned to remote work and schools went online, many families found themselves at home all day together, consuming more energy than ever before. In fact, Americans spent $6 billion more in April and June of 2020 than in previous years on power at home. As your family adjusts to a new normal, here are some problem spots to monitor your energy usage. Especially with more people being home in mind.
When working and learning from home, setting up your workspace is important. Consider a spot with plenty of natural light and avoid turning on additional lights unless necessary. Of course, this is not possible with every home. There are some dark spaces that need a light or lamp to be usable. In this case, make sure you’re using LED bulbs or other eco-friendly light fixtures.
Additionally, try to take note of what lights are left on overnight. Check hall lights or under-cabinet lights, and determine if they are truly necessary. If you want to keep them on, make sure they are eco-friendly as well.
2. Energy Vampires
Many of our household electronics can turn into energy vampires, a term given to devices that use energy while plugged in even when turned off, which can account for 20% of your monthly electricity bill. With the addition of always-on devices, particularly smart devices waiting for your command, it can be hard to unplug. While smart devices like Alexa and Google Home are not a big culprit for energy waste on their own, when they are connected to larger devices like a TV or appliances, those large smart devices waste much more energy waiting for a command. Consider if this convenience is worth energy waste and be sure to adjust accordingly.
As for work and school, everyone in your home may be using laptops, tablets, and smartphones for daily activities. Therefore consider charging them only on a needed basis or in the evenings. Rather than leaving your devices plugged in at all times, let the battery do the work. Charge your devices in the evening until it reaches 100%. This way it’s ready to go in the morning instead of leaving it charging overnight. Additonally, it’ll never get charged more than 100% no matter how long it’s plugged in.
When using a lot of devices, utilize a power strip, surge protector, or smart strip to cut off energy easily. This is especially great for when you want hidden wires or have multiple devices, and don’t want to move or unplug them individually.
Companies like Energy Star have been releasing data on appliance energy consumption for decades. With everyone home more, it may be time to finally make the switch to more eco-friendly and energy-saving appliances. This can be a big change and investment. However, there are payment plans, loans, and warranties to help ease the financial burden. Some eco-friendly home improvements can even qualify you for tax credits.
If you are not ready to commit to all brand-new appliances, take into account every-saving practice you can. For instance, running shorter cycles with cold water and not leaving the fridge open for long periods of time. You also want to pay attention to things that give off heat when you’re already heating your home. You can also look into service contracts you may already have in place, such as a home warranty, to repair older appliances and make sure they’re running as efficiently as possible until you’re able to make the leap to new ones.
To keep your AC and HVAC running smoothly, cleaning your air filters more regularly means less wasted energy. When your air filters are clogged, your systems have to work even harder to cool and circulate air through your home.
In recent years, many homeowners have opted for solar air conditioning as a way to curb their energy consumption. It should be pointed out that with recent advancements and developments in solar technologies, this innovation has become far more durable, affordable and efficient. This has led homeowners to not only save on the power costs, but also create a sustainable model of energy consumption in their households.
Many energy savers pre-pandemic had their thermostats programmed to drop or turn off during the day while the family was gone. Now, everyone wants to be comfortable in their new at-home office. Keeping your thermostat off or low may require you to change up your routines. You may need to either wear more layers at home, or keep your windows open. When it comes to windows, make sure to try these additional energy saving tips to make sure your windows are not the source of making your home more difficult to heat and cool.
A smart thermostat can help this process by taking the guesswork out of when to lower and raise your thermostat. This will help you be more energy efficient now. It will also come in handy when we do start to leave the house more.
These problem areas are a great start to becoming more energy efficient at home. However, it’s important to consider the next steps as well. Making the decision to add solar power or purchase an electric vehicle are big financial decisions, but they can lead to cost savings and help the planet in the long run. Whether you’re just getting started in your green journey, or you’ve been practicing for years, keep checking our blog for more green living advice or our directory for additional resources.