4 Baby steps to help you save energy at home

light switch complicatorElectricity is often seen as a relatively harmless resource to use. Well, harmless to everything except your wallet, anyway.

Heavy users of electricity often don’t think of our use as being particularly damaging to the environment.

The truth is, of course, that the electricity we all use comes from somewhere, and that somewhere is almost always coal, natural gas, or nuclear power stations.

Turn the Lights down Low

Lighting is one of the easiest places you can start making savings.

Switching lights off every time you leave a room is very easy – the only problem comes when you’re as forgetful as I am!

An easy way to remember this simple but effective step in energy reduction is to draw reminders on scraps of paper and leave them in places you know you’ll see them when you leave the room.

You can even reuse old receipts, or coupons, or even the Yellow Pages.

The easiest way to cut down on your lighting is even more simple than this, though. Make the switch to LED’s from incandescent lights, and you could be using a tenth of the wattage for the same results.

How to Charge Your Phone

To start with, never leave your phone — or even just your charger — plugged in once it’s fully-charged. It will continue to sap energy, much like these ‘vampire’ appliances.

Not to mention that this will also damage the battery!

The two main ways to charge your phone are plugging it into a socket directly or connecting it to a PC or laptop USB outlet. An analysis of the two methods on Blackberry forums concluded that using your PC meant that your phone would charge more slowly, leading to less wastage if you left the phone in overnight.

On the other hand, this means you would have to leave your laptop or PC plugged in and charging overnight, which isn’t very helpful.

Buying a phone charger that automatically shuts off power draw (and prevents over-charging your battery) once your phone is fully charged can save you a few kilowatt hours here and there. I find that it’s worth it for me, since I run all my electronic devices from the same charger.

Major Appliances

For your big household appliances, the advice tends to be simple but brutal. Since this is about baby steps, I’d suggest only doing what you feel comfortable with.

Washing machines do use a lot of power to heat the water, so use a cooler wash. If you find your clothes are coming out dirty, have a look at some of the “cool wash” detergents available.

It costs a lot to trade in a refrigerator for a new one, so you might not be willing to do away with your old models as early as you could. As a smaller experiment, I tried living on dried and canned foods for a while, eating my fruit and veggies straight away – meanwhile my refrigerator sat out in the garage, quietly defrosting. The savings on my bill were huge!

Kind of extreme, but an option nonetheless.

Clothes dryers are completely unnecessary. Plan your laundry ahead of time and you won’t have to use them at all. Even if you’re not interested in saving energy, the cost savings each year can tally up to hundreds of dollars.

Starting Out

As I mentioned at the start of this post, these are just some small, basic ways you can start to save electricity.

Achievable goals that you can complete one at a time.

The best way to make progress with these is to start from the one that’s easiest for you, and allow yourself to feel really good about it. From there, if you’re anything like me, you’ll catch the energy-saving bug, and then you’ll be unstoppable!

If you’re looking to make larger strides in your eco-centricity in the meantime, take a look at these articles on home wind and solar power, which can tell you how to get started.

[Photo: L. Marie/Flickr]

About this author: Louise Blake writes for eMoov about taking care of your house and home. She runs her home with the help, and sometimes hindrance, of her husband, Harley the puppy, and baby George.

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