Your daily habits could be wasting a lot of energy, and that costs you money and damages the environment. People consume energy mostly for electric devices and lighting, transportation and heating or cooling. Simple tips will help reduce your energy consumption across the board and make a real difference to your wallet and the planet.
Turn It Down
Heating and cooling systems can be real energy hogs. Most people think of lights when it comes to energy consumption in the home. In fact, water and space heating account for nearly 63 percent of typical home energy use, while lighting only accounts for 6 percent. Luckily, there are some quick ways to reduce your heating bill. Turn down the thermostat on the furnace and put on a sweater to keep warm. Install a programmable thermostat to reduce energy use while you are away at work and asleep at night. Invest in some insulated drapes to block out heat in summer and keep in warmth in winter. Turn down the temperature on your water heater by a few degrees. Finally, consider a home energy audit to uncover more ways to improve energy efficiency.
Turn It Off
Appliances can't draw power if they are turned off. Better yet, unplug anything you don't need. Choose EnergyStar approved appliances when you can. We've grown so used to constant background noise from gadgets and gizmos that it's become normal to us. Try turning everything off and listen to the blessed silence. You'll be surprised at how much racket all that stuff made.
When driving, don't let your car idle. Turn off the ignition when parked or stopped at a light. Take public transportation whenever possible, and as an added bonus, you won't have to worry about parking.
Don't Buy It
Think before buying that new electric gadget -- do you need it or will it just clutter up your home? Every new electric gadget requires energy in several ways: energy to produce it and transport it to the consumer, energy to operate it, and energy to recycle or dispose of it. If you don't buy it in the first place, you've just saved some of that energy.
Use Human Power
A manual chopping tool makes short work of carrots and onions, takes minimal counter space, and uses only human power. Try that instead of a food processor. Ride your bike to work for a double whammy of fitness and fuel savings. Wash the dishes by hand instead of running the dishwasher. Let your hair dry in the sun instead of using a hair dryer. If your city allows it, hang the laundry to dry outside; if not, use an indoor rack. Have fun by taking the whole family to the park for a game of soccer instead of playing video games indoors. Read a paper book -- no batteries required!
Simplify Your Life
Categorize your errands by location, and combine several into one trip to save fuel and time. If you have to pick up the dry cleaning, stop in at the pharmacy next door for toothpaste and cold medication, for example. Buy a week's worth of groceries at once instead of driving to the supermarket every other day. Eventually, these things will become habits, and your energy costs will drop.
About the Author
Gwen Higgins is a writer and entrepreneur with more than 10 years of industry experience. Her credentials include a professional engineer designation, an Associate of Science, a Bachelor of Applied Science in chemical engineering and commerce. She also holds the Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designations in BC, Canada.