Sipping hot cocoa while contemplating the day ahead a chill pervaded the room. Glancing at the outdoor thermometer revealed the reason, 42 degrees and only September 5th. The realization that I better get the stove pipe repaired now, hit me. Autumn is on the way and in the natural course of things winter follows and temperatures drop. Autumn also the start of a new school year had me thinking about energy education. I belong to an electric cooperative which has a great publication called Northern Lights Ruralite containing all sorts of articles on tips for energy savings and the like. A monthly publication I routinely peruse during mornings like today. The article catching my eye this morn, was written by Hailey Hawkins called Become a Student of Savings and was directed at college students. The information Hailey supplied is valuable and without risking plagiarism I want to forward some of the tips on to you. While her article specifically focused on college students I found the tips beneficial for all of us.
The monthly budget is a concern for all of us and winter as beautiful as it is usually means a substantial increase in expenses. Energy being chief among the culprits of my dollars a plan of defense is in order. Often when reading about energy savings the writer starts off with the basics such as turning down the thermometer to 68 during living hours and 60 at bedtime or when away, while this is a very valid tip and in actuality I did begin with it I want to bring up a few things you may not have thought about.
Electronics and the quest for energy efficiency don’t seem like a couple but in fact electronics you know like the TV and all those other little gadgets and doodads to make life a breeze use energy. A lot of energy if the truth be known, so what can you do. You may shake your head at this but don’t buy a TV or if you have one turn it off, unplug it. You won’t be giving up television but altering it up a bit, watch cable TV on your computer. Better yet your laptop as they use much less energy than your TV or some tower computers. The variety of shows available to view is actually quite expansive with options for streaming and downloads. Don’t forget to make sure that your desktop or laptop is equipped with DVD/CD player so you can catch your favorite movies too. The laptop provides you easy accessibility where ever you are. Video action isn’t the only avenue that a computer will benefit your energy bill, look to it for music, don’t buy a stereo or replace one; opt instead for a good set of speakers for your computer including a good separate woofer to boost the base and a tweeter of course. My guess is you already have a great library of music on your computer or IPOD so enjoy and reap the savings. How else can you save regarding electronics, turn them off when you leave the house, don’t just hit the on and off switch unplug them, many electronics continue to draw energy even when not running. Ok, this sounds like a hassle but how about getting a good power strip to protect these items and make it a one easy step or unplug to shut them all down at once when you are out.
Now what about that stove/oven, some may have issues using a microwave but if you have one, use it. Microwaves use half the energy of a standard oven. Cooking uses energy no way to get around that but we can reduce the amount, when cooking on a burner choose the right size burner for the job, and don’t forget to use a lid on your pot just remember it cooks faster. Same goes for refrigeration of foods, first up only use one, that’s right I said one refrigerator. I see you looking around with that who me, mini refrigerators are the rage and oh soooooo convenient but the cost to run one far out way buying a bag of ice to keep drinks cold, and let’s face it most mini’s basically house beverages. My mother had a second frig out in the garage and it was great during the holidays but we soon discovered the savings of cleaning it out and unplugging it after the holiday. Remember the older models are sometimes easy to find but often use much more energy to run.
I’d be remiss in talking about energy savings if I didn’t bring up clothes washing and drying. First up for savings and safety CLEAN the lint filter before each load to maximize drying and reducing the time the dryer runs. Rinse the filter itself out when you think about it, dryer sheets deposit residue in the filter that plugs it and increases the chance of fire if you don’t keep the filter clean. You have heard this a million times but it’s because it’s true WASH clothes in cold water, clothes get just as clean and the energy savings is vast.
You know the rest of the energy saving tips pretty much but here is a quick reminder list:
*Have a roommate i.e. shower with a friend… grins had to throw that in
*Heat rises so in the summer use your lower floors and turn on a fan. In winter use the upper floors particularly for sleeping.
*Try using a fan in warmer temps rather than the central air or room air conditioner. Really need to have that air conditioner on leave the temp at 78 degrees lower than that raises your costs by 40 percent. Never air condition empty rooms.
*Consider programmable thermostats so you don’t have to worry about turning it down before you leave or go to bed.
*Shade windows facing south, east and west to keep unwanted heat out of your living space and vice versa in winter when you want the suns warming rays. Paint a cinderblock black and let it soak up the heat all day it will help warm the room after the sun goes down.
*Don’t substitute a space heater for your central furnace heat. Use them for supplementing an area you are in and never leave them unattended and on. UNPLUG Keep furniture and drapes away so heat can flow and not catch anything afire.
*It is not cheaper to keep a room heated while away than to reheat it. We have been told that for years but it just isn’t so. Turn the thermostat down when away or sleeping and increase it when you return.
*Finally it’s cheaper to keep yourself warm than keeping a whole room warm. Wear warm clothes, layer them. It’s easy and healthy. Keeping your head and feet covered are a key in keeping warm so splurge buy that new winter hat and those luscious fluffy slippers.
There are of course many more tips on saving energy and staying warm this winter. Check with your local utility and on-line for the best ways to be energized efficiently and not break the bank. Oh one more thing, use natural light whenever you can and turn off the light when you leave the room. Sorry I am not gonna “leave the light on”, get a flashlight. See you all later, be safe have that plan and be prepared to live life to its fullest with Peace and Power.
Sources: Ruralite-Sept 2013 Issue; Hailey Hawkins