Small steps can add up to big reductions in your electricity use—and your utility bill.
These simple habits, easy home improvements, and smart buying tips can add up to considerable energy savings over time. Skeptical? Give them a try. Let your energy bill speak for itself. When it comes to fighting air pollution and global warming, action at the federal and state levels is certainly important for effecting real change. But so are the smaller actions that you, personally, can take every day in your own home.
1. Turn things off.
That doesn't just mean hitting the light switch when you leave a room (although that's important, too). You should also make sure your television, computer, video game consoles, cable boxes, and digital video recorders are switched off when you're not actively using them—or unplugged completely if they light up or otherwise use energy even when powered down. Chargers for cell phones, tablets, and other cordless devices also use small amounts of energy even when they're not charging. Plug items you use regularly into a power strip, so you can easily switch them all off at once.
Computers can also be set to sleep or hibernate mode, which uses much less power than when they're on and active; program yours to do this automatically after 10 to 15 minutes of inactivity. And skip the screen savers; they're not necessary to protect modern monitors, and it's much more efficient to set your monitor to switch off when it's not in use.
2. Buy smarter bulbs.
An LED light bulb costs as little as $5 at home improvement stores, and it can save more than $100 over its lifetime. LEDs use up to 85 percent less energy to deliver the same amount of light as incandescents, and they come in many different shapes, colors, and intensities. They also reach full brightness instantly and can work with dimmer switches. Check to see whether your local utility offers a rebate for energy-efficient bulbs, which would bring their cost down even further.)
3. Don't use more energy than you need.
Don't run the dishwasher when it's not full, set your washing machine to the appropriate water level, and wash clothes—except for the dirtiest of loads—in cold water. Set your refrigerator temperature between 28 and 42 degrees Fahrenheit and your freezer between 0 and 5, and make sure both are sealed tightly. (If a dollar bill shut in the door is easy to pull out, replace the gaskets.)
The clothes dryer is one of the largest energy users in the home, often consuming as much as a new refrigerator, dishwasher, and clothes washer combined. Air-dry clothing when possible, and when you have to use your machine, be sure to clean the lint filter after each use, use the auto-dry or moisture-sensor setting, and don't add wet items to a load that's already partially dry.
4. Tweak your TV settings.
Although today's high-definition televisions use around 60 percent less energy than earlier ones, some Internet-ready models consume excess power after they're turned off, thanks to a "quick start" feature that allows them to boot up a few seconds faster. Disable that option in your television's settings—and while you're there, see if your model has an automatic brightness control, or ABC, sensor, which will adjust the picture brightness to the level of light in the room. Since most TV viewing occurs at night, this can make a big difference in energy consumption.
If you want to stream movies and use services like Netflix or YouTube, consider buying an Internet-ready television or a small add-on device—like Apple TV, Google Chromecast, or a Roku box—which uses very little power. Avoid streaming video through game consoles like PlayStation or Xbox, which can use up to 30 times more energy. (If you do use a game console regularly, at least set it to "auto power down" mode.)
5. Choose renewable energy.
If you are able to choose your own energy supplier, pick one that uses renewable power resources, like solar, wind, low-impact hydroelectric, or geothermal. In some states, you can support renewable energy by paying a small premium on your electric bill instead of choosing a specific electricity supplier. Ask your electricity supplier what options are available for you. A portable power station with solar panels helps as well. For a starter, we can try to get a 2000-watt or 600-watt power station to start our renewable energy life. The power station could be charged by solar panels. (Solar electricity panels, also known as photovoltaic (PV), capture the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity that you can use in your home. By installing solar panels, you can generate your own renewable electricity.)