22, April 2016
People who live in cities powered by fossil fuels, hydroelectric dams or nuclear power plants know that electricity is an expensive resource. The average household in the United States pays $114 per month on its electricity bill. But many of these households could cut those costs by using a handful of simple tricks to save power. Here are our 10 favorite energy-saving tips.
- Household electronics are notorious for being energy vampires that still use electricity while they're plugged in, despite the device being turned off. Unplug electronics that aren’t in use, and consider using a surge protector or power strip to make the process easier with closely grouped devices.
- It’s easy to forget about unplugging a phone or tablet after it is finished charging. But many battery chargers continuously draw power, even if the device is charged or removed from the charger entirely. Be sure to remove any electronics from their chargers after charging is complete, and then unplug the charger itself. To help out, most smartphones have an alarm that you can set once the device completes charging.
- Unless you’re using a desktop computer for graphics-heavy video games or demanding video and photo editing, you likely don’t need the power it provides or requires. Laptops use considerably less electricity, and they’re portable. Another option is to have your computer’s inactive state always be sleep or hibernate instead of screen saver.
- Instead of leaving video game consoles or electronic toys in standby mode to charge their remotes and accessories, if possible use rechargeable batteries as an energy-efficient alternative. They often require less electricity to charge, and the batteries can last longer in demanding usage conditions.
- Turning off lights and electronics in unoccupied rooms can obviously save electricity, and if you take this commonsense advice a step further you can create a daily schedule for family bonding. After the sun sets, encourage your family to spend a few evening hours in one central bright room. During this time all of the lights and electronics not in this room are turned off. This conserves electricity, and makes sure that you actually get to spend quality time with your family after a long work day.
- Using the wrong light bulb can drain electricity and provide improper wattage to a light fixture. Compact fluorescent bulbs use about one-fourth the energy of older incandescent bulbs, and they last longer. CFL bulbs come in various shapes, wattages and sizes. Another option is an LED bulb, which is more expensive upfront, but lasts longer than CFLs and uses even less energy. Be sure to double check with a light bulb guide that you’re using the best option.
- One often-overlooked tip is to dust your CFL light bulbs before recycling them. It might be that the bulb still has plenty of life left, but dust on the bulb is reducing its light output by up to 50 percent.
- This tip is an expensive investment, but replacing an old, traditional hot water heater with an electric or gas instantaneous version pays for itself over its lifetime, and then it continually saves you money. And that’s significant considering that the average American household spends $400 to $600 a year on heating water. Traditional water heaters lose a massive amount of electricity through standby heating, which the EPA estimates can waste $36 to $61 annually in comparison to instantaneous models.
- Refrigerators and freezers are notorious electricity hogs. But if you keep your freezer or fridge full they use less energy to cool empty space. If you have a bunch of vacant room, then fill a few water gallon jugs and place them strategically in empty corners. It’s relatively cheap, and water acts as an excellent insulator for the already-cold environment.
- If your fridge or freezer is more than a couple of years old, you’ll want to check its gaskets. The gasket is the insulation that keeps the cold air in and the warm air out, and if it’s not working properly then your appliance draws more power than normally necessary to keep things cold. You can test gasket efficiency by placing a dollar bill where the door closes, close the door and then pull the dollar bill out. If removing the bill is an easy task, then your gasket system likely needs to be replaced. Most home-improvement stores will have the necessary materials.