Reduce Your Power Use Needs
We Earthlings have two choices where energy is concerned. We can choose to see no problem and go on depleting the limited resources of our planet. We would hope that it will be decades before the resources dry up. Another choice would be to conserve our limited resources, use recycling to maintain or replenish them, and find feasible energy conservation methods. We could develop and use alternative clean energy sources, and in some limited ways try to redress environmental damage.
Simply being aware of the ecological system has encouraged us in developing several energy conservation methods. These techniques improve the environment and save us some money. These conservation techniques can be used whether you are a homeowner, renter or plugged into an alternate energy source like solar power.
Identifying The Amount Of Energy Used
If we look at this energy pyramid, we can see that base shares the largest part of the equation, which belongs to energy conservation methods. The first step in the energy cycle is energy generation, followed by using the generated energy efficiently. Then after successfully implementing that strategy, you can work towards applying conserving energy to complete the cycle.
Some energy conservation methods require planning but most of them can be implemented immediately. We have listed below some of the methods, which can be put into practice in a phased manner.
- Get an energy audit done for your house. It will show you a myriad of ways to save money. Audits done by a professional give a clear picture of many areas that you may need to work on. The report will identify and prioritise the problem areas for implementing these money saving methods. The audit will point out all the gaps and improvements available in achieving better energy efficiency. These will initially cost you money but that help in implementing all conservation methods needed will pay dividends in reduced energy use.
- An energy audit has an inspection component and analysis of the household’s energy use. It points out where using energy conservation methods in a building component will reduce energy input while achieving the same level of comfort and effective output. There are DIY audits possible using a number of smartphone apps currently available. These apps guide the householder through the steps to accomplish a technical energy audit for themselves.
Lose those incandescent light bulbs
- Incandescent light bulbs have been used since the 19th century and are still a popular light source among homeowners. The quality of light given by them is quite good but they are far from efficient. They convert only 10% of the electricity into light with the other 90 % being converted into heat.
- Replacing incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient light bulbs like the compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) reduces the energy used on lighting. Upfront, the cost of replacing the incandescent bulbs will seem expensive but CFLs will bring down your lighting energy costs by at least 75 percent. An added advantage of the CFLs is they last for almost 12 years, a much longer lifespan than that of the incandescent bulbs.
Some Energy Conservation Methods and Ideas
Invest in a thermostat
- A good thermostat on room air heater / air conditioner can be programmed to not spend so much energy in matching the outdoor and indoor temperatures. When no one is at the home and when there are guests, the thermostat can be turned down a few degrees. The collective body heat of the guests will compensate for that by adding to the room temperature.
- During winters, programme your thermostat at a setting of 68 degrees Fahrenheit for when you are home. At nights and when there is no one at home, program the settings down ten more degrees.
- In summer don’t over-cool the house. The ideal thermostat setting is between 75°F and 78°F and every degree rise in the thermostat above that results in 5% savings on the cost of cooling. The summer months will need programming, with 78 degrees for the hours when you are at home during the day and a little higher for when there is no one at home and at night.
Reduce The Amount Of Energy You Use
Seal Leaks In The House
Hot air in winters and cold air in summers can leak out of the house due to lack of effective insulation. Proper insulation can reduce the energy costs by as much as ten percent. Caulking is a technique used to seal the air gaps between walls and windows or doors, and ceilings and skylights. You can do the draft reduction yourself by using duct tapes on small leaks or finding the help of a professional in situations of larger leaks.
Turn Off The Lights
Turning off lights is as easy as it actually sounds. Switch off the lights when leaving a room and during the daytime open the blinds to make use of the natural light. Close the blinds at night to prevent heat loss through windows. Switch all devices off after use as some amount of energy is utilized by them in sleep mode. Many modern electronics utilize a technique called a standby power when not in use to have them start up immediately when turned on instead of taking a few seconds to warm up.
Large appliances like TVs and even small ones like a mobile charger use small amounts of power while turned off. The small steady standby power usage is referred to as the “phantom power”. In the total energy consumption of your appliances, this phantom power use constitutes almost 75% of the electricity. The best energy conservation methods, in this case, are to unplug your appliances completely from the power socket after use.
Due to convenience of leaving plugs as they are and the small electricity use per hour this method does not rank high in feasibility analysis. An alternative to pulling plugs out of their socket is using Smart power strips, also known as advanced power strips. These strips do away with your phantom loads' problem by shutting off the power to electronics when they are not in use. Smart power strips can be programmed to turn off at an assigned time or during a period of inactivity of the appliance. These super strips come with remote switches which can be used to shut off the appliance’s power supply.
Identifying And Then Conserving Energy Used
Use Those Energy-Efficient Windows
An average house has only five to ten percent of its surface covered by windows and doors. A small percentage of houses also have a skylight. All these are a source of either heat loss or they overheat the house. This energy loss is almost 40 percent and it can be lowered substantially by using energy saving windows.
Old windows and doors can be replaced with modern energy saving windows that have triple layer glass designs and have U- values of 1.0 or lower. U-Factor measures the rate of heat transfers and gives a clear picture of the window insulation.
U-factor values generally range from 0.25 to 1.25 and are measured in Btu/h. ft² °F. A lower U-factor indicates a better window insulation. Older windows generally tend to have a U-value of 2.7 or higher. A lower U-value window not only helps in reducing the energy consumption but it also insulates the house well.
Select Energy Efficient Appliances
One of the energy conservation methods is to select energy-saving appliances for the house; especially the large appliances. For instance, an air conditioning unit should be selected according to the size of your home.
Air conditioners with higher Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratios (SEERs) provide the greatest energy efficiency. When buying a refrigerator, look for a higher Energy Star rating, an European EcoLabel, or an Energy Saving Trust Recommended model.
Maintenance Of The Appliances At Home
You need to maintain your heating and cooling systems. A process as simple as cleaning and replacing the air filters regularly can help you in conserving a lot of energy. You should also arrange for annual maintenance of the appliances at home by a professional technician before the start of every season.
Increasing Your Planting
Another method that also aids in environmental conservation is increasing the density of shrubs around your house. Planting trees, small plants, and shrubs in your home garden, aids in tightening the insulation of your house. But this planting needs to be done approximately 12″ away from your home’s exterior.
This way, what you have between your house and the plantation is dead air space pockets. These pockets provide a shield to the house against all kinds of extreme temperatures. Your energy savings through such energy conservation methods can reach as high as 15 percent in winter and 5 percent during summer.
Decrease The Temperature Of Hot Water
Most homes require hot water for various activities all through the day. The water temperature should not be higher than140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celcius). This temperature of water will scold skin on contact.
When you heat water above this level, the plumbing system adds cold water to it to balance the temperature and to make the water usable. By setting the temperature at the 140-degree F threshold you are conserving energy by not making the heating system overwork.
Fill The Washer, Dryer, And Freezer
It sounds simple and is in fact it is even simpler to follow. When you under utilise the washer, dryer and the freezer, they are essentially using double the amount of energy by working a double shift. Fill them to their optimum capacity before every use, especially in case of a large appliance like a washer.
By running only a full load of clothes, you conserve energy and you also save water. Similarly, a packed freezer works more efficiently and cools better than an empty one.
Use Your Solar Energy Plant Efficiently
More homeowners have adopted an alternate energy source by installing solar panels. This energy is free but if it’s wasted you can pay unnecessary costs buying power from the grid. You can use all the above methods even when you are running your house on solar energy. Watch the short video below, which runs through some energy saving ideas. If you would like to comment there is a box below.