Ouch, that electric bill is gonna hurt this month! With temperatures soaring across the United States, power consumption has been soaring right along with it. Of course you’ve already turned up your thermostat and screwed in the CFLs, so here are some slightly different tips to trim the power bill.
- Get your hands wet. Wash your dishes by hand once or twice a week instead of using your dishwasher. (The dishwasher manufacturers will have you believe that this wastes water; that’s only true if you crazily run the water the whole time you’re washing.) If you wash the dishes by hand one day out of five, you’ll cut your electricity consumption for the dishwasher by 20 percent (a standard dishwasher burns 355 kilowatt/hours per year, so that’s some nice savings).
- Use the solar dryer. Admit it, the main reason you don’t hang your laundry on the line is because you don’t want the neighbors to gawk. Suck up that pride and start using the sun to dry your laundry. Not only will you save electricity (it costs about 50 cents a load to use your dryer) but you’ll burn some calories along the way. If you seriously don’t want your neighbors checking out your skivvies, go ahead and use the dryer for that, but use the clothesline for your less modest laundry.
- Use the microwave. Your microwave efficiently cooks food — it uses a lot less electricity than your normal electric stove or oven — and it doesn’t heat up your kitchen the way those appliances do, so you’ll save air conditioning power, too. And admit it, you like those tasty and easy microwave meals!
- Keep the fridge full. Ironically, the more stuff you have in your fridge, the more efficient it is (unless you jam it so full that you block the air flow). Here’s the idea: If your refrigerator or freezer is nearly empty, each time you open the door much of the cold rushes out with the air. Keep the fridge and freezer full, and the cold stays. Simple. However, you shouldn’t put hot stuff into the fridge or freezer until it cools down to room temperature or you’ll use more power than needed to cool it down. For health reasons you don’t want to leave food sitting out longer than necessary though; sometimes you can cool down hot food quickly with those icy things you put in coolers.
- Zone your house. You don’t need to cool your bedroom if you’re not in it, and you probably never need to cool your closets. Once your family is out of bed, turn off the AC upstairs. Similarly, when they’re in bed, turn off the AC downstairs. If you happen to wake up in the wee hours to go to the bathroom, try turning off the AC completely. If doors and windows are shut, the bedrooms may remain cool until the sun rises. Regarding the closets, there is little need to keep your suits cool, so keep the doors to closets closed so that the cool air isn’t wasted there.
- Skip the screensaver. You guessed it — using a screen saver consumes more electricity than just letting your computer screen go blank. Speaking of computers, turn them off at night and whenever else you’re not going to use them for two hours or more. “Sleep” mode isn’t good enough — even in sleep mode, a typical PC burns 15 watts. After you shut down the computer, turn off the power strip. That makes sure no energy is slowly being consumed by LED lights or other little power suckers.
- Share the wealth. This might be your single best power-saving move. If you have kids, tell them that if they participate in your power-saving schemes, you’ll share some of the savings with them. Tell them about a few ways they can help keep the bills down — turning off lights, keeping doors closed, playing fewer video games. Then show them your power bill from last August and tell them that if they follow your suggestions and the amount of electricity is less this August, they will get a percentage of the money saved.
Do you have any creative ways of saving energy? If so, please don’t hesitate to share them in the comments.