From turning off lights to closing windows, there are more simple ways to save electricity than you might think.
Electricity is something many people take for granted. From lights and refrigerators to computers and televisions, our lives run on electric currents. The U.S. Energy Information Administration says that in 2015, the average residential customer used 10,812 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity. All that power takes a toll on both the environment and your wallet. Fortunately, there are easy ways to save electricity without drastically altering your lifestyle.
The electricity epidemic
The average electricity use in America is roughly a third higher than that of the next country on the list, and the only nation that uses more electricity than the U.S. is Canada. We've become so dependent on electricity that we don't even realize how much we're using.
Part of the problem comes from the technology boom, especially the advent of computers and rechargeable devices. You can't even read this blog post right now unless you're using electricity. Every day we recharge phones, tablets, and laptops while watching television, scanning documents, or listening to music—and most of us do it all without giving electricity usage much thought.
The benefits of saving
We should think of ways to save electricity, first and foremost, for the environment. The electricity we use to power our lives does not occur naturally. Man-made turbines, powered by fossil fuels, create electricity. That means the more we use electricity, the more we use fossil fuels, negatively impacting the environment through greenhouse emissions, as well as the mining, drilling, and transportation required to obtain the fuel for generating more electricity.
While the environmental impact of electricity use can be elusive, the financial implications are not. Each year, Americans spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on home electricity costs, and those amounts are only likely to increase as we introduce more products and appliances that require electricity. Committing to even one or two easy ways to save electricity can save you hundreds of dollars each year.
To get you started, here are a few things that will help you do your part in preserving the environment while putting a few more dollars in your pocket each month.
10 Ways to save starting today
1. Turn off lights and computers
Topping the list of ways to save electricity is to simply turn off your lights. You might be inclined to leave them on if you just have to run to the store quickly or maybe tend to something in another room, but doing so wastes electricity.
Computers, too, are all too often left on when not in use, even overnight. There are arguments about the health of the hard drive and the amount of electricity it takes for a machine to boot up, but at the end of the day, they are soft arguments. If you're not going to use your computer for a while, turn it off.
2. Open/close curtains
If you have a room that faces the afternoon sun, open the curtains in the winter to let the sun naturally heat the room, which will save you on electric heating costs. Likewise, in the summer, close the curtains to keep the sun out. To maximize the benefit, use thermal curtains.
3. Close fireplace dampers
Another electricity-saving tip is to close your fireplace dampers. Leaving them open allows warm air to escape and drafts to enter, which will impact your electric heating costs.
4. Turn down your water heater
If you look at your water heater, there should be a "warm" setting. Use that instead so you aren't constantly heating water to boiling. Besides saving electricity, you'll also avoid your water getting too hot.
5. Adjust the thermostat in the winter
When you leave the house or go to bed, turn down the thermostat about ten degrees. Just make sure you have your slippers nearby for those frosty mornings!
6. Cover drafty windows and air conditioners
If you have a drafty window or a window air conditioner unit, cover it with heavy duty plastic to help prevent drafts.
7. Skip the dishwasher
Although many of them are considered energy-efficient by today's standards, dishwashers still use a fair amount of electricity. Washing by hand uses no electricity at all unless your hot water heater is run by electricity. In that case, don't leave the water running while you wash—only turn on the sink to rinse.
8. Unplug chargers that aren't in use
Maybe the simplest of ways to save electricity is to unplug unused chargers. Believe it or not, just having a charger plugged into the wall draws electricity. Over time, that leads to a lot of wasted electricity.
9. Run ceiling fans clockwise in the winter
Running ceiling fans in reverse at low speeds helps to draw warm air up and then force it back down, which can save on heating costs. Just remember to change it back come summertime!
10. Close the refrigerator
Keep the refrigerator door closed as often as possible. Be thoughtful about how you unload groceries, avoid "window shopping" when you're hungry, and make sure the door is completely sealed when you close it.
Now that you're saving money on electricity, are you looking for a way to save money on your insurance policy? Contact your Pekin Insurance agent. It's as simple as that.
What are some simple ways that you save electricity? Leave your tips in the comments below.