How your day to day actions can save energy

This is Lesson 12 of our informal online course: Home Energy 101All lessons by Philip Drader.

There are three main resources we use whose consumption is fairly regular: electricity, natural gas, and water.

By changing the way we do things, we can take an active role in caring for our planet while also saving money. That means thinking about how we can live sustainably in our day to day life. Changing our habits can make a significant impact on how efficiently energy is used in our homes.

The best part is that developing new habits helps you save energy without spending a cent!

But there are also some relatively inexpensive devices that can change our habits. For example, the sleep setting on your computer automatically helps reduce its energy use without actively doing anything before you step away from it for a short while.

Here are some tips on how you can take an active role in reducing your energy use that we haven’t covered in other lessons.

What you can do to save electricity

  1. Energy Efficient LightsTurn lights off when you aren’t in the room. Or you could partially replace this habit by installing a motion sensor controlling certain lights but not all of them. If you use lights on the exterior of the home, consider using a timer or reducing the wattage of the lights.
  2. Exploit the simple elegance of free wind and sunshine. Hang your clothes to dry on a line outside instead of using your dryer.
  3. Use smart power bars to control electronics to avoid phantom loads caused by electronics that use electricity even when they are turned off.
  4. Use your oven less and use your microwave or plug-in kettle. A microwave is more effective at getting the energy into food, with less warming up of the air around it, and a plug-in kettle likewise.

An extra step you can take for bonus points is filling your cup with water first before putting it into the kettle to heat up just the amount of water you are going to use.

  1. Avoid the need for air conditioning by cooking outside in the summer.
  2. Avoid leaving doors or windows open in the summer when the air conditioner is on.
  3. Take up meditation and don’t do anything for a month. I’m joking. There are a lot of lifestyle suggestions we could make, but we’ve picked those we think won’t impact the way you enjoy life.

Find more tips in Lesson 10 about lights, appliances and air conditioning.

How to save natural gas

  1. Programmable ThermostatDon’t leave your door open in the wintertime. Unless you have small children, it should only take a couple of seconds to open the door, get in or out, and close the door again.
  2. If you feel the house is stuffy and needs to be ‘aired out’, run a bathroom exhaust fan instead of opening a window
  3. Assuming you have a natural gas water heater, take showers over baths, and use a timer to help you keep track of time in the shower.
  4. Program your thermostat to drop a degree or two at night-time.
  5. Some people wear sweaters and even toques inside to lower their thermostat and save energy.

Several other lessons share advice on how to reduce your use of natural gas to heat your home.

How to save water

  1. shower head in use 1208075186_6a26118c90Shower instead of taking a bath and put a timer in the shower to help you keep track of how long you’ve been in it.
  2. Consider showering only when you need to not just because you are used to doing so every day.
  3. Brush your teeth with the water off. Anything else is pure waste.
  4. When rinsing dishes, don’t let the rinse water flow down the drain, catch it and use it if you can–perhaps to rinse other dishes?
  5. Don’t water your lawn. Let it grow naturally. If it suffers, try over seeding with a drought-tolerant grass mix.
  6. Instead of using a hose, wash cars with a bucket of soapy water or help keep the grime from reaching fresh water by going to a carwash.
  7. Clean driveways with a broom, not a hose.
  8. Getting a 3L/flush toilet is effective at saving water.

Find more tips in Lesson 8 about heating water.

Share ideas with your friends

These are some of the ways I can suggest to change your habits and conserve resources. You may think of other things you can do.

One of the most effective ways to learn how you can change your habits is by talking about what you’ve done with other people and asking if they have any habits or strategies that they use that you could imitate. By talking about it, you’ll discover a lot of like-minded people with creative ideas and enhance your knowledge on how to live sustainably.

feature photo credit: Stripes’ bathtime via photopin (license)

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