September 20, 2010

Ways to Save Electricity and Gas, Part 3

Part 1 of Ways to Save Electricity and Gas

Part 2

In the family room

  • Put your TV and video equipment on surge protectors so that you can turn the entire system off with a switch to avoid pulling phantom energy. 
  • Consider if a wood stove inset or freestanding wood stove is an option for your family.  You might be surprised at how much heat that these will generate.  I have a few friends who heat their entire homes with one wood stove. 
  • If you have a fireplace, make sure to close the flue when it is not in use.  Use wood that will generate the most heat (check www.motherearthnews.com for suggestions on ways to burn more efficiently).
  • Take the family room outdoors.  Rather than spending a bunch of time in front of the TV, enjoy the beauty of nature.

In the home office

  • Put your computer equipment on surge protectors so that you can turn the entire system off with a switch to avoid pulling phantom energy. 
  • We all like the ease of portable phones.  Yet, when you can opt for a corded phone (or if you can even find one in the stores anymore), the phone will pull less electricity.  Consider if doing away with your home phone is an option for you.  Many people are now choosing to use only their cell phones.
  • Turn the computer off when it is not in use.  Note, turning it to a sleep setting is not the same as turning it off.

In the bedroom

  • If you have the option, sleep upstairs in the cool months and downstairs when it is hot outside.  We have a house where the downstairs is partially underground.  This is wonderful for keeping the temperatures from fluctuating drastically.
  • Have two sets of bed linens for different times of the year.  Sateen or silk sheets feel cooler in the summer.  Change to a lighter bedspread.  In the winter months, opt for flannel sheets and extra quilts. 
  • Have you ever tried an electric blanket? I find that I get way too hot underneath an electric blanket, but others swear by them. 
  • Use rice bags or hot water bottles to warm your bed before you get into it when it is cold.  (To make a rice bag, sew a simple square out of cotton as if you were making a small pillow, fill it with raw rice, and sew the seam closed.  Heat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.  Make sure you don’t get it wet).
  • Sleep with others.  Boy, your mind sure is in the gutter!  No, I’m not talking about anything risqué.  I’m suggesting that body heat is a good way to stay warm when it is cold outside, though.  Don’t have a partner to snuggle up to?  My grandmother loved that her cat would snuggle up to her feet at night and keep them warm.  I have another friend who has a couple of doggies that sleep in the same bed as she does. 

In the bathroom

  • After the tub has been used, I do not drain it immediately in the winter.  I use the heat from the water to warm the bathroom as I brush my teeth, put on make-up, etc.  BE AWARE NOT TO DO THIS IF YOU HAVE YOUNG CHLDREN AROUND WHO MIGHT BE AROUND.  THE RISK OF DROWNING IS NOT WORTH THE EXTRA MONEY SAVING!
  • We use bath towels more than one time.
  • Adjust the temperature on your hot water heater to not waste electricity.  Use a blanket made to insulate your hot water heater to avoid wasting electricity.  If your budget allows, switch to a tankless/on-demand water heater.

In the laundry room

  • Clean the filter on your dryer every time you use it.
  • Opt to hang your clothes dry.  My hubby has bad allergies and he finds they are worse when I hang clothes outside.  Instead, I hang some of our clothes to dry indoors.  Delicate clothes are less likely to wear and tear when hung dry.
  • Throw a dry towel into the dryer when you do use it.  This shortens the time it takes to get the other clothes dry.
  • If you have a mixture of types of clothes in your load, stop the dryer half way through to pull out smaller clothes that are already dry. 
  • Only wash full loads of laundry.
  • As I’ve said before, reuse your sturdier clothes so that you do not have to wash as often.

Outdoors

  • Switch to solar powered lights for your walkway. They are much, much easier to install, last for years, and work wonderfully.
  • Use hand powered tools instead of ones you have to plug in or use batteries.  By the time I could get out, hook up, and use the hedge trimmers, I could have already completed the entire project with my hand pruners and loppers.
  • Consider installing awnings over large windows or sliding doors that are in full sun most of the day.
  • Have your heat and air system “tuned up” regularly.  It will run more efficiently.
  • Change air filters regularly.  In some homes these are easily accessible, in others you must venture to the attic.  The simple change will save you money on your utility bill, reduce allergens in your home, and save you from having to dust as often.  The last one is the biggie for me!

Away from home

  • Make choices with your spending.  Support businesses that are trying to be more energy efficient.  Opt for less packaging that uses more energy to produce.  Support local stores and farmers to help avoid wasting energy with transportation of goods. 
  • Be environmentally friendly even when no one else is watching.  Why is it that people will leave a TV at a hotel when they aren’t in the same room, but they would never do that in their own home?

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