How to Conserve Small, Medium & Large Amounts of Energy

With oil and gasoline prices on the rise, conserving energy is on the mind of many Americans. As a nation, we're being asked to do our part to cut back on the amount of energy we consume. Here are some easy energy conservation strategies that can save small, medium and large amounts of energy (and save you money).


Small Ways to Save Energy

Every little bit counts. If these measures were adopted by every person in a household, or by every house on one block or by every block in one community, these small savings could really add up.

In the Kitchen

  • Use small appliances to cook small meals and cook one-dish meals whenever possible.
  • Try and use your oven to capacity by cooking more than one meal at a time for later reheating.
  • Avoid preheating the oven unless absolutely necessary.

In the Yard and Garden

  • Don't water if rain is forecasted in the next few days.
  • Landscaping with native plants adapted for your area's growing conditions will require less watering and fertilizing.
  • Don't idle gas-powered lawn mowers for long periods and consider using a hand-pushed reel mower for smaller yards.
  • Instead of a gas or electric weed-whackers and trimmers, use hand-held clippers and pruners.
  • Keep your pool filters and strainers clean.

Medium Ways to Save Energy

These energy conservation measures save medium amounts of energy, which over time may result in the biggest savings because they include things we do every day.

In the Laundry Room

  • Wash and dry only full loads.
  • Use only cold water for washing.
  • Don't over-dry clothes, or even better, use a clothesline.
  • Keep lint screens clean and start consecutive loads while the dryer is still warm.
  • Avoid using too much soap-it makes the washer work harder.

In the Bathroom

  • Take shorter showers.
  • Don't run water while brushing teeth or shaving.
  • Use low flow shower heads.
  • Don't use more soap than necessary to avoid using more rinse water.
  • Fill tub only _ full for a bath.

In the Workshop

  • Use hand-held rather than power tools whenever possible.
  • Keep tools in good shape-well lubricated and sharp.
  • Buy the tools with the least amount of horsepower adequate for the job.

With Home Cooling

  • Properly insulate, caulk and weatherstrip.
  • Make sure thermostat is located in a place to accurately measure the temperature.
  • Keep thermostat free from dust.
  • Set air-conditioning thermostats no lower than 78-80 degrees.
  • Keep shades down and drapes drawn.
  • Buy the smallest size air conditioner that will do the job and keep it clean and maintained.
  • Shut off air and open windows during cooler nighttime temperatures.

With Appliances

  • Keep your refrigerator frost-free and avoid opening and closing the door.
  • Keep your refrigerator's temperature set between 37º F - 40º F and the freezer between 0º F 10º F.
  • Run the dishwasher only when full and use the shortest possible cycle. Open it to let dishes air dry.
  • Use hand can-openers, mixers, etc., whenever possible.
  • Vacuum and polish only when necessary and keep vacuum bag emptied to avoid reducing suction power.
  • Compost kitchen waste instead of using the garbage disposal.

With Lighting

  • Use fluorescent bulbs where possible and use the correct wattage to reduce the number of bulbs needed.
  • Keep light bulbs free from dust.

In the Yard and Garden

  • Plant shade trees on the south and west sides of the house to help cool it in summer and plant shrubs around the foundation.
  • Make a compost pile for fertilizing-artificial fertilizers often contain petroleum products.
  • If possible, grow your own vegetables and fruit.

On the Road

  • Have your car in for regular tune-ups and keep air filters clean.
  • Check tire-pressure regularly.
  • Use air conditioning sparingly, if at all.
  • Don't carry excess gear and weight in or on top of your car.

On Vacation

  • When staying at a hotel/motel, pretend you are paying the energy bill. Avoid using more heat, light, hot water or air conditioning than necessary.
  • Make advanced reservations rather than shopping for a room by car.

When Shopping

  • Buy appliances and equipment based on energy consumption as well as long term durability and performance.

Large Ways to Save Energy

In the Bathroom

  • Insulate hot water pipes.
  • Locate the hot water heater as close as possible to areas needing hot water.
  • Keep the temperature at or below 120ºF.
  • Turn your water heater down when away from home and check it for leaks and drips.

With Home Heating

  • Have at least 6" of insulation on the attic floor.
  • Weatherstrip windows, doors, attic door/trapdoors and caulk around exterior doors, windows and upstairs ceiling fixtures.
  • Close drapes at night and open them in the daytime.
  • Set thermostat at 66º - 68ºF during the day and 55ºF at night.

Year Round at Home

  • Install storm windows and doors.
  • Close fireplace dampers when not in use.
  • Get a humidifier. It uses electricity but will help you remain warmer at lower temperatures.
  • Dress for the weather; wool blends are warmer than polyester knits or leather.

On the Road

  • Drive less by carpooling and saving errands for one trip.
  • Walk, bike or use public transportation when possible.
  • Avoid heavily trafficked routes where idling is often necessary.
  • Drive at a steady pace.
  • Don't warm up the car for more than one minute.
  • Coast in gear when slowing down.
  • Shift to higher gears as soon as possible.
  • Don't rev your engine.
  • The optimum speed for fuel economy is 30-40 mph.
  • If buying a new car, consider hybrid technology or those models that rate high in fuel efficiency.
  • Consider manual shift, a fuel injection system and radial ply tires for less rolling frictions.
  • Light-colored cars reflect heat and stay cooler.

On Vacation

  • Take vacations closer to home.
  • Discover or rediscover non-motorized leisure activities like horseback riding, bicycling, canoeing, kayaking, hiking and tent camping.
  • Travel by bus, train or plane.
  • Stay at all-inclusive resorts where traveling around for different activities is minimal.

When Shopping

  • Buy fabric and clothing that doesn't require ironing.
  • Buy long-lasting products and products containing recycled content whenever possible.
  • Buy products that can be recycled.
  • Avoid excess packaging and disposable products made of plastic or cellophane.
  • Buy cold water cleaning agents.

About The Author: Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. Click here to ask Ellen a question! Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at

June 2, 20060 found this helpful

When cooking with the electric stove or oven, turn it off and cook with the residual heat for the last 5 to 10 mins. The burners are still hot, so use what you've got.

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June 2, 20060 found this helpful

I liked the tips but keeping the temp at

78-80 degrees whew! I live in MO and it is hot

and yucky we keep it at 70 and 73 when we sleep

and that is alot for us as hubby likes it cool and usuallly at 68 degrees I am working on this.

We were gone at inlaws and temp was 75 plus inside

and hubby has been sick since he is disabled and

hot weather makes him feel worse.

We are trying no one likes $$$ a/c bills.

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June 4, 20060 found this helpful

Last summer, we turned our AC to 90 degrees and used fans. It saved us over $200 a month! Oh, and it does get hot here - we have the same temps as Phoenix - we've had 120 degree days! It was hard at first, but now we're used to it. We also use spray bottles to help cool down, and everyone should know this - DRINK WATER. I average 3-4 quarts a day. I guess it's a choice between comfort and money, which I have very little of!

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June 14, 20060 found this helpful

Air conditioning! elimination

1 Buy or rent homes where big establish trees are near your dwelling

2 And yes porches and awnings work to create temperature coolers.

3 The color of your roof shingles can save you energy

4 have less concrete and blacktop around your house.

5 wear cotton clothes

6 have natural lighting all you can instead of burning electricity

7.use electrical appliances very sparingly during the hottest part of the days

8 open windows when shade starts to form of that side of the house.

9 wash yourselves in a bathtub of cold water or use cold water wash cloths to your head and back of neck

10 think of the coldest days last winter and how much your utilities bills were.( This last suggestion alone has got me through a many a hot and humid days) and by the way I keep my thermostats in the low 60s in the winter and have blankets to cover with when in the living room.

Stay Cool Naturally

and save energy

Mr. Thrifty

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August 14, 20060 found this helpful

How can any of us forget electronics.

The computer you are looking at right now Then we have how many TV's in our homes, CD.players big radios,even the little clock radios take their share of your electric bill.

Need I tell you how to save energy from your computer? Us it less and oonly for things you need.turn it off when you are going to be away from it for more then 20 minutes.

Lets not forget the printers and the fax machines and what ever other little energy eating inventions they have come up with to steal your hard earn money.

Why all the TV's? is that a family you have in your house or just a bunch of strangers. 1 TV and even then you will find it hard to get anything on it that entertains YYes to a DVD player Atleast when you are playing the movie it iis something you want to see.

CD players I am up in the air about them anymore with the costs of the CD's like they are.

You can invest in a Satellite radio and even with the monthly fees come out better

I am going to add the MICROWAVE to electronics ,because we have been brainwashed to think we really need that energy abuiser. I have been tempted more then once to eat the carton the Microwave garbage came in instead of the so called dinner. Put a lid on a frying pan and everytime you save minutes in cooking

Clock Radios and just radios oh and lets not forget about Batteries?

If you hurry you might still be able to find one of thoose wind up alarm clocks wiith the tic tic tic that puts you to sleep and the rat a tat tat that wakes you up fast.Get one or 2 or 3

While you are at it invest in a real wind up clock for your living room,and take those one a year battery wristwatches off and go out and find a real watch that you can pass down to your son or daughters.

Yes you need 1 battery clock and that should be in the Kitchen,

how much energy will yyou save if you follow my advice? You will save but you will also be taking bback some of you life you give to these electric slaves and that is the plus.

Look How Much Your Children Have Grown and Now You Can See The Stars In The Sky.

Mr. Thrifty

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May 28, 20090 found this helpful

Manufacturers should be taken firmly to task to upgrade efficiency. For instance, how much insulation is built into your oven, or your refrigerator? Well, there is probably as much as you will find in the ceiling of your car.

Super efficient refrigerators would have a couple inches of rigid foam on the sides and top, likewise for your oven. It is not unlikely that a good craftsman could build in his or her own to cut down on electricity or natural gas use.

As for your roof: For decades the possibility of using the millions of roofs in this country as clean power generating sites by using solar panels has existed, yet it has not happened. Ask yourself why not.

Hint: The lack of progress on a large scale is a result of politics. The sorry excuse that the market place has not demanded progress is pathetic and suffers from overuse. Meanwhile, look at your own use of our depleting resource base and take steps so you can make your own contribution. If you can walk or ride a bicycle to a local business to shop, do so. If you can stand warmer temperatures in the summer and cooler temperatures in the winter, do so.

If you can make a week of freezable meals for your family on a weekend afternoon, do so.

Use your window shades or blinds to regulate room temperature. Open windows at night to let in cool air.

Use public transit if available. In tough times, grow your own food, including sprouts, or yogurt. If you can change your food preferences, you can save energy and money and maybe lose weight. Look around at just what it is that you really think is necessary. If you can get along without it, it may be less necessary than you think. Pretend that you are in a lifeboat and consider whether you should keep something that might cause a capsize; if it would, then seriously consider throwing overboard.

Who knows? Maybe we will find out that less, indeed, is more.

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