Saving energy means saving money and helping reduce the environmental impact you make in everyday life. Here are a few simple tips to reduce the amount of energy you use around the home.
Using energy-saving light bulbs can reduce your lighting costs by over 50%. Rather than switching from the old incandescent bulbs to CFLs (the curly fluorescent bulbs), nowdays it makes more sense to switch directly to LED light bulbs. The problem with CFLs is that they contain mercury and can break easily releasing that toxic substance into your home or into the environment when they are disposed of. LED light bulbs are much sturdier and are free of mercury. Far less prone to breakage, they should last at least ten years, providing energy savings for that whole length of time and repaying their purchase price ten times over. While fitting out the whole house with LED bulbs in one go may not be affordable for you, commit to replacing a few bulbs a month, particularly those that are left on for the longest periods of time.
Make your own 'haybox' for retained heat cooking. Retained heat cooking saves a lot of energy – it works best for dishes that need long slow cooking, but is also perfect for rice, beans and vegetables. You bring the pot of food to the boil, simmer for a few minutes and then put it with its lid tightly closed into an insulated box, where the retained heat will continue to cook it slowly over a longer period of time. To make your haybox, an old cooler box is ideal, but any sturdy cardboard box will do. Fill it with insulation: you can use an old sleeping bag, cushions or blankets to fill the space, leaving a nest for the pot in the middle. Cover the pot with a cushion and close the box tightly. The retained heat will allow cooking to continue slowly for hours.
Windows are one of the larger sources of heat loss and gain in the home. Save on heating and cooling bills by managing them properly. In summer, close curtains and blinds on the sunny side of the house to keep the rooms cooler. This works best if the blinds or curtain linings are white to reflect the heat back out of the window. In winter leave curtains open in the day to allow the warmth of the sun in, and close them at night to reduce heat loss.
The single largest energy saving you can make in your laundry is by line-drying it instead of using a tumble dryer. Dryers are one of the largest guzzlers of energy in the home. Line-drying is easy in dry summer weather, but winter can be a challenge. Having a couple of spacious drying racks that can be set outside in the day and brought in at night to finish drying in the warmth of the house can be a solution.
Appliances left on stand-by are still using electricity. Instead of just using the remote to switch of the TV, switch it off full. Switch off computers, printers and other appliances when not in use.