Most people are worried about how much power they are using and what their carbon footprint might be. Most people think, “I am just one person, what can I do to help?” I have said this same thing before, then I realized a few easy steps can help me save money and help save the planet at the same time.
You might not already know this, but every gadget you have with a little glowing LED light is using electricity even when you aren’t using them, as do cell phone chargers and clocks. In this article, I’ll give you some great tips on how to cut your energy use and save some money.
The stove, microwave and coffee pot all have clocks on them. There is not much you can (or should do) about the microwave or stove top clock, but you should keep the coffee pot, toaster, and any other appliance unplugged when not in use. Unless you need the coffee to wake you up, the clock doesn’t need to be set with a bunch of extra clocks in the kitchen.
Computer monitors, even energy star monitors, suck power all the time whether on or off. Speakers being shut off doesn’t mean they are “off”, either. Phone chargers are another common culprit.
How can you deal with these devices? It is as simple as using a power strip with an on/off switch. If you have two outlets available, I suggest using two power strips. One strip will have the computer tower and anything else need to stay on all the time. The other strip can hold your monitor, speakers, cellphone charger etc. When you leave for a few hours, just flip that switch and you can completely turn off 3 things while the computer and external hard drive can stay on.
Belkin sells remote control power strips for a nicer version of this same technique. When you need your monitor back, just turn the power strip back on and they will come to life as if you pushed the power button on the screen. They can also be set to turn off after a customizable period of time, and can make your home safer for devices like heaters and coffee makers.
Most people my age they have a computer in their bedroom and the same tips I write in the Office section can be applied. Unplug devices like laptop and cell phone chargers when not in use, and consider setting your computer to automatically go to sleep after a certain period of time.
Utilizing natural lighting in the day is a great way to save electricity, along with using compact fluorescent bulbs. These bulbs are more expensive than standard incandescent bulbs, but you should not have to replace them for a long time and will use 1/5 of the electricity. I don’t really like the color of light compact fluorescent bulbs give off, so an idea I have came up with is to use one of each – a fluorescent and a regular bulb in one light fixture.
Basic window insulation can also save on heating and cooling. On hot summer days, keep the shades drawn to keep heat out even though that goes against the previous natural light statement (running a few bulbs is nothing compared to using the AC all day).
While I am not a professional or an expert in the field of saving electricity, I’ve taken the steps I presented in this guide and was able to substantially reduce my electricity bill. Most of these tips are easy to start doing, and can have long-term benefit for your wallet and the environment.Image credit: Karl Baron, Jay Reed, Patrick Denker, Eliot Phillips, Dan McKay