Domestic Energy Consumption: How to Optimize It
The popular ways of reducing household energy use range from simple adjustments of our routines and habits to more or less extensive home improvement projects. However, for most homeowners the motives remain the same: saving on utility bills and reducing the environmental footprint. Here are the five most effective ways to waste less energy and save electricity in your home.
Heating and cooling
Since domestic climate control systems account for the largest piece of the energy use chart, they should be your priority in optimizing the energy efficiency in your home. Keep in mind that with every degree up or down, you can increase your running costs by 2-4%. It’s more effective to heat or cool down your home slowly over time than cranking the conditioner for the instant effect. Have your HVAC system serviced regularly to minimize the losses due to dust and debris in the system. In the evening, instead of plugging in an electric blanket, throw some extra regular ones on your bedding.
Even though your TV set and the gaming console, aren’t power-hungry machines by definition, the problem is that they often suck up electricity even when not used. For starters, try to have a TV-free family dinner. Not only will you reduce the running time, but also get to have some real talk with your loved ones. When not used for longer periods, such as over the night or while everyone is at work or school, make a habit of plugging out at the wall, as this eliminates ‘vampiric’ consumption of the power unit. Finally, when shopping for a new TV, look for one with a high Energy Star rating.
Computers and appliances
The number of appliances in homes is increasing with each generation of homeowners, and there’s nothing we can do but to use them responsibly. When chargers aren’t charging, unplug them to prevent energy leaks. Keep in mind that appliances on standby still use energy so unplug them as well. If you want to know how much energy your fridge or dishwasher consumes at any given time, consider data loggers with power usage and power cost functions. This may give you an idea if it’s time to get a newer, more economic model. Plug your computer peripherals into a separate switchboard, so you can turn them off without affecting the computer.
Interior and exterior lighting
Lighting typically accounts for a 10% of your energy use. While no one asks you to trip over things in dark to save energy, it’s more the type of lighting you use and when you use it that makes the difference. Try turning off the lights whenever you leave the room and use energy saving bulbs, such as LEDs. Unlike other options, their lifespan isn’t affected by frequent switching. Also, try to diversify and layer your lighting, as you most often don’t need to illuminate the entire room. On the outside, instead of flooding the empty garden with light all night long, choose a fixture with a motion sensor.
Hot water management
Hot water sometimes contributes to 17% of your household energy use. Keep in mind that the most efficient temperature for your hot water system is around 60°C. When you go on holiday or a business trip, turn off your water heater completely. The new models feature highly effective heating coils, and can heat up the water again in less than 30 minutes. If you live in a house, consider a solar hot water system, which will take a hefty sum out of the utility bill equation, especially in summer months. When it comes to dishes, run your dishwasher with a full load every time, as this is the most effective way to use it.
Even without expensive remodels and investments, households are able to save a fair percentage of their electricity bills if they adapt their behaviour towards more sustainable ways of using home systems and appliances.
Guest Contributor, Lillian Connors