Saving energy may be one of the simplest things you can do to go green. While you may spend a little money for some of these ideas, many are simply a change of habit.
1. Switch to CFLs as old bulbs burn out.
While compact fluorescent bulbs do typically cost more than incandescent bulbs, you can get them more affordably in many places.
Some electric companies offer discounts on them. These may be available in local stores. I can often get my CFLs for about $1 per bulb. This is of course just for the basic ones, and if you have dimmer switches, ceiling fan lights or closed fixtures you may have to pay more.
However, each CFL should save you money over the life of the bulb. They use significantly less energy than incandescent bulbs and last longer in most cases.
2. Turn off unneeded lights.
Old advice, but still good. Even young children can be taught to turn off lights in rooms that aren’t being used. Takes just a moment, it’s free to do, saves money and energy.
3. Unplug appliances.
Many appliances use power even when they’re turned off. Many of them really don’t need it, unless you need the clock still running or something.
If unplugging is too much effort, consider buying a smart power strip. These will shut down the power to electronics that are connected to each other. You can set one up so that shutting down the computer cuts to power to your monitor, printer and any other accessories, for example. Or turn off the TV and have the DVD player shut completely down. You’ll probably want cable boxes and/or DVRs on a separate strip if they need power while the TV is off.
4. Use fans instead of the air conditioner.
Summer’s over in some places, but not near me. We’re still getting plenty of weather into the 90s.
A good fan works wonders for cutting down our use of air conditioning. It still gets plenty hot in the house, but by combining existing fans with building a tolerance for warmer weather we use the AC relatively little.
You can also figure out which of the windows allow the worst of the heat in. We block those windows with Mylar, and in one case even have a shade on the outside of the house to keep the heat out. Simple, but it makes a huge difference.
Similarly, in winter you can cut down on your heater use by dressing more warmly.
5. Buy Energy Star appliances when you need new ones.
It can be hard to say when it’s worthwhile to replace an appliance that hasn’t yet broken down. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. But when it’s time, get the most efficient one that meets your needs. Energy Star products cost you a bit more upfront, but over time they will save you money.
6. Use a clothesline.
Yes, old fashioned, and yes, it is forbidden in some areas to have clotheslines in your back yard. Silly rule in my opinion, but a reality some people have to deal with.
When the weather permits, a clothesline dries clothes fairly quickly and can be gentler on them than the dryer. It takes a bit of extra effort to get everything on the line and back down when it’s dry, but you’re not using any electricity by doing so.
Some people put clotheslines in their garage as well. This means you can line dry clothes regardless of the weather or HOA regulations.
It’s amazing what you can do to save energy without spending a lot of money. But even more amazing is how quickly you can save enough to pay for what you’ve spent. Doing your bit for the environment can have some great advantages.