5 Habits That Will Improve Your Home Energy Efficiency


power-waste-1404336378512Habits that ruin your home energy efficiency are easily acquired with all the daily tasks and duties we all have.

However, energy-efficient homes have been trendy in the past few years, and people have been investing heavily into having good insulation or better building materials. Unfortunately, often, people do not even realize that they do things wrongly, and unintentionally waste energy. Their money-sipping habits hence contribute to higher greenhouse gas emissions.

Here is a list of the things that many of us do, often without even realizing, and some useful tips on how to break the bad habits once and for all. If you follow these energy efficiency measures, you will not only be doing good for the environment, but you might find yourself having some extra cash in your pocket every month.

1. Unplug appliances

The problem

Keeping appliances plugged in when they are not in use drains a lot of energy, without us even noticing. Yes, I guess the amount for one particular item, like your cell phone charger for example, can be insignificant for a short period of time. However, a simple math will tell you that when you add up your cell phone charger, your partner’s cell phone charger, the TV left on stand-by, your laptop charger plugged in, and a few kitchen bits and beauty machines left plugged in because of the morning rush, and multiply this by the number of days in a month, the energy savings are not at their best. Apparently, unplugging unused appliances could improve energy efficiency in your home by 10 percent or more.

The solutions

  • Find a place in the room where you can put a box to store all chargers, something like a bowl for keys next to the door. Every time you need to charge your phone, take the charger out of there, let it do its job, then unplug it and safely place it back in its box. In this way, you will develop a healthy habit, and at the same time, you will always know where that charger is.
  • Use power strips to plug all appliances that would normally be left on stand by, like computers, DVD players and TVs. When they are not in use, just turn the power strip off and everything goes to sleep at once. Think of investing in singular extensions for individual switches. In this way, your coffee machine or water boiler can take a break when you are off to work.

2. Give the heating and cooling systems a break

The problem

It is very easy to get used to improving energy efficiency of heating and cooling systems. Many people even go to the extremes to create artificial temperature environment, where the difference between the temperatures inside and outside is as drastic as between summer and winter. Everyone knows that these systems are the biggest energy wasters around, yet when we feel the chill, or the hot wave, we often run towards that precious knob.

The solutions

  • In winter consider putting on an extra layer of clothing before putting up the thermostat.
  • In summer, consider opening windows and doors to create a draft and circulate the air, before reaching towards that remote control of the air-conditioning. You can also get your hands dirty, and make your own power-saving DIY cooling system.
  • Do consider proper insulation, and other easy DIY fixes, to optimize the energy efficiency of your house.
  • If you have a strict schedule at home, consider investing in a smart thermostat.
  • Simply set the thermostat to go off at a certain hour of the day/night, so that you do not happen to forget the heating on.

3. Lower shower temperature

The problem

When you wake up on that gloomy winter day, knowing that you have to drag yourself out of the warm bed to go to work, the only good thought that could cross your mind seems to be that hot shower. Unfortunately, the hotter the shower, the higher the waste and the higher the energy costs go. In fact, it is ridiculously expensive to your home’s energy efficiency to have these precious 10 minutes in the steamy shower room.

The solutions

  • Place a timer inside your shower, and try to stick to 5 minutes, and not 8.
  • Get used to taking a room temperature shower, or even a cold one if you dare. It is actually highly beneficial for you, makes your skin and hair a lot healthier and it wakes you up faster.
  • Pre-set your water heater, so that you cannot accidentally fall back into the bad habit.
  • Check out options to optimize your water heater. Consider insulating the hot water pipes, or invest in an energy efficient appliance.
  • Take a look at these additional tips on energy-efficient home improvements.

4. Switch to energy-efficient appliances

The problem

It is extremely easy to forget a light on, especially if you wake up when it is dark, but you leave the house when it is light. Another case that occurs quite often is going to the attic or the basement to pick something, you have your hands full and you cannot reach the switch, you think you will go back to turn the light off, but the door closes behind you and you simply forget.

The solutions

  • Replace all light bulbs with energy efficient ones. They cost a bit more, but they last much longer, and save a lot of energy
  • Invest in dimmers to control the amount of light you need.
  • Get sensor-controlled, or timer-controlled light switches for the attic, the basement and the garage. Back in the days these energy-efficient appliances were quite expensive, but now you can find them in pretty much every store at a very reasonable price. Having one of these, guarantees that your light will be off, even if you forget it.

5. Do not abuse the cloths dryers, the dishwasher and the washing machine

The problem

Although technology has advanced a lot over the years, these three appliances, as necessary and useful as they can be, could end up using a lot of energy. Do not get me wrong, they are a lot more efficient, well, the last two at least, than washing everything by hand, but still. The bad habits that we have include starting the dishwasher and the washing machine when they are not entirely full, and leaving them on after the cycle has completed.

But the worst ones are the cloths dryers. These not only waste incredible amount of energy through the heat they need and the tumbling action, but they also blow hot air out of the room where they are placed and decrease your home’s energy efficiency.

The solutions

  • Always start your washing machine when it is full
  • Always start your dishwasher when it is full
  • Whenever possible, do this overnight, when the energy consumption of your neighborhood is low, and the costs of energy is lowest. Note, be considerate and do not disturb the neighbors with noise.
  • Air dry your laundry every time you can. Do not leave washing to the last minute, so that you have enough time to allow clothes to dry naturally. In summer this takes less time, in winter it might take a day or so, but by any means, fresh air through your clothes gives them longer life and longer-lasting freshness.
  • Buy an Energy Star qualified washing machine.

I hope you got a few useful tips here. Even if you do not believe they work, give them a try for a month. I guarantee you, when that bill comes through the letter box on that gloomy 31st (or whenever), you will be much happier. It is all worth it, believe me. Read a bit more about your electricity bill and energy efficiency.

Image (c) Getty

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