by Emma Bailey: Summer is just begun…
and what better a season to implement eco-conscious improvements than when Mother Nature is at her best? Here are a few simple tips you can use to help save energy and reduce the ecological footprint you leave upon our planet.
- Beware Energy Vampires
Anything that plugs into an electrical socket is subject to electricity loss. This loss is called standby, phantom or vampire electricity because even when appliances are turned off, they still draw power. Any type of cord with a transformer will continue to consume power as long as it is plugged in. Unplugging 10 transformer cords when you are not using them can save up to $20 a year in electricity. Try using a power strip and unplugging the strip to avoid having to disconnect each individual cord.
2. Watch Your Water Use
Plastic water bottles are bad for our environment. Ditch them and invest in a bottle you can refill from your tap. Avoid using hot water when it’s not necessary. Wash clothes on the cold water cycle, and don’t pre-rinse dishes with hot water. Help your water heater run more efficiently by wrapping the storage tank in a thermal blanket to help retain the heat. There is a variety of smart faucets and water saving devices now available to implement into your home automation system to reduce your home’s water usage. Give solar a try. Solar water heaters are a renewable source of energy and can meet 150% of your home’s hot water needs from drinking water to heating swimming pools.
- Smarter Thermostat Use
By reducing the difference between the temperature indoors and outdoors, you can save money on your heating and cooling bills. Installing a smart thermostat will allow you to program your thermostat settings and view your usage which will give you a better understanding of when your system is running. A smart thermostat will learn over time when it needs to raise or lower temperatures, can detect when you are away and can be controlled remotely from a smartphone or computer. Smart thermostats can save homeowners up to $150 a year on energy costs when properly used.
- Alternative Transportation
What is a better time than the summer to keep your car in the garage and find a more efficient mode of transportation? For short trips, try walking or biking. More walking and bike paths are being created to encourage alternate modes of transportation. Public buses and trains are reliable and being upgraded for more comfort and better passenger accommodation. Uber is a great way to pack into the car for a spur of the moment outing. Try rollerblading or long boarding to stay in shape and get where you need to go.
- Out with the Outdated Electronics
You may love the second hand blender from your grandmother, but old appliances are notorious for sucking up a lot of power. Go through your home and replace your old appliances. When shopping for new ones, find appliances with an Energy Star Label and same yourself up to 30% on your electricity bill. Be sure and properly recycle old electronics so they don’t end up in our landfills.
- Stop Air Leaks
Spring and summer cleaning is a great time to make sure your home is air-tight. Fill in those energy-robbing gaps, save some money, and make your home more comfortable. Test your home for air tightness on a chilly morning by placing your hand around the exterior of doors, windows, vents and electrical outlets. Caulk and use weather stripping on doors and windows. Caulk air leaks around plumbing, ducting and around electrical wiring. Install foam gaskets behind any outlets and switch plates that are leaking air. Don’t forget to check the attic and basement. These are some of the biggest culprits of energy drain drains and allow cold air to be sucked into the rest of the house.
By taking these simple steps towards a more sustainable lifestyle, you may be able to save a significant amount of energy in the long run. In turn, you’d be able to reduce the harm that wasting energy causes upon the Earth.
Emma Bailey is a freelance writer and blogger from the Midwest. After going to college in Florida she relocated to Chicago, where she now lives with a roommate and two rabbits. She covers current topics in technology, finance and issues pertaining to the environment