There are more than a few ways to keep the electric meter from spinning at an alarming rate. Some require a little electrical inventory, such as turning off unused appliances or switching to Energy Star appliances. However, others take a bit more creativity and planning.
It requires a little initial investment, but it's all savings from there. Outdoor lighting may provide safety for a home, but it also requires electricity. Opt for solar lights instead. Reasonably priced sets of solar lights can be purchased and stuck in the ground for ample night light without any further expense at all. For those who tried solar lights years ago, they have improved and now stay lit for most of the evening, even charging on cloudy days.
For those who have window air conditioners, the electrical meter is spinning as three or even four air conditioners work to cool a home. Rather than run all air conditioners throughout the day, opt for a rotation. For example, let the one in the dining room work to cool the neighboring rooms for part of the day, allowing ceiling fans or floor fans to circulate the cool air. Then, turn on the air conditioner in the living room and let the one in the dining room rest. Simultaneously, accept the house temperature at 78 degrees rather than 73 or even 75 degrees. You'll see strong savings and little difference in the air quality.
Another option is to evaluate the need for bedroom air conditioners to run during the day. Many of us don't use our bedrooms during the peak heat hours, and we could save some by turning the air conditioners off during the day and closing the bedroom door. Simply turn the air on an hour before bedtime; the time of day provides cooler air, allowing for more efficient cooling. Remember, if an air conditioner is running, it's using electric.
Electric water heaters (and gas for that matter) use a great deal of energy. Try to save energy by setting the temperature on your water heater a bit lower - ideally at 120 degrees F. Not only will it save electric, but it will prevent scalding accidents as well. When you're planning to be away on vacation, turn the water heater off or adjust the setting so that energy isn't being wasted heating water no one is going to use.
Cooking can have serious effects on the temperature of the home, and by alternating the cooking method you can save more energy than you thought. In the summer, the use of the oven or stovetop adds excess heat to rooms that air conditioners may be working to cool down. Opt for a cooler method of cooking such as the microwave, a crock pot, or a toaster oven. All emit less heat into the air, and they use less electric to cook food than the average electric oven or range.
One of the things I do to keep the heat out of the house and save on the AC is cook in my attached garage. It is just a few steps from the kitchen. I use my crockpots, rice cooker (it steams veges), toaster oven, electric skillet, and microwave/convection oven in the garage. I can do almost all our cooking in there. I got a new GE micro/convection oven and it bakes great.
One thing we've started is we have most things plugged into surge protectors and when we aren't using the devices, we turn off the surge. EX: tv, vcr, dvd, x-box, and stereo-at night I flip the surge and everything shuts down and doesn't draw standby power. We do this with the computer and my son's tv and video systems. We do not do this with our alarm clocks or phone chargers, but we do unplug the chargers when not in use. I've also started drying my clothes on a line outside and keep my dryer unplugged (it's easy to get to) unless I need it (about once a month).
Install a programmable thermostat and set the temperature higher for when you are away from home during the day, then lower for the evening after you return and for sleeping.
Insulate, insulate, insulate! Blown in insulation is a low-cost way to save big bucks.
Use your dishwasher, washer and dryer late at night or early in the morning. This helps lower peak usage and also helps to keep your house cooler.
Install blackout roller shades (available at hardware stores and big box retailers for around $10 each) on the west windows of your home and lower them during the day. Keeping your home darker means that your A/C won't have to work as hard.
I use my outdoor outlet alot in the summer. I set a small table near it and cook my stuff in my crock pot then none of the heat is in my house. But then the neighbors all want to come to dinner too.
I try to do most of my cooking on a charcoal grill during pleasant weather. This helps by keeping the heat outside and minimizing cleanup after dinner. Weather permitting, I cook dinners outside several times each week. I oftentimes grill enough for lunch the next day. And, about once each week, I take all the grilled leftovers from the refrigerator and warm them up. There's always a variety, and nobody leaves the table hungry.
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