As 2017 draws to a close and 2018 looms large on the horizon, what New Year’s resolutions are you planning to make? Surely there are many on your list, whether it includes getting healthier, saving money, saving time—or bigger endeavors, like finally adding that room onto your house or building your dream home. Regardless of the resolutions on your radar, saving energy is one that everyone can take part in for 2018. Anyone can resolve to save energy in even the smallest of ways—and every little bit helps. So what are some ways you can save energy in the upcoming year?
There are essentially two categories of energy-saving measures you can implement in 2018: bigger things and smaller things. Let’s look at the smaller things first and the areas of the home they fit into.
- Wash clothes in cold water
- Regulate your water heater
- Install low-flow showerheads
- Cook with the microwave when you can instead of the oven
- Run your dishwasher only when full and use the economy cycle
- When cooking on the stove, keep lids on to reduce cooking time
- Refrigerator efficiency: make sure door is sealed to prevent air escape
Heating and cooling:
- Use a programmable thermostat
- Keep your thermostat at 68 degrees or below in winter
- Make sunlight work for you, not against you
- Upgrade to energy-efficient appliances
- Switch to energy-saving light bulbs
- Make use of power strips for chargers
Believe it or not, washing your clothes in cold water can save you up to $115 annually. Heating the water does take energy, so using cold water for laundry will save your hot water for washing dishes and taking showers—thus, less energy used. Of course, washing only full loads and using short wash cycles will help conserve energy as well. When it comes to your water heater, it is best to set its temp no warmer than 120 degrees and wrap heaters older than five years old with insulation to prevent heat from escaping from the tank. Low-flow showerheads and faucets are also a great way to reduce energy usage when it comes to water heating.
There are several ways to reduce energy usage in the kitchen, and the first on the list falls under the water usage category as well—and it pertains to your dishwasher. Just like the washing machine, it’s best to run your dishwasher only with a full load and on the shortest wash cycle possible. (However, you’ll want to stick with hot water for this one.) When you’re cooking, use the microwave if at all possible—it uses less energy than heating up the oven. When cooking on the stove, you can reduce cooking time and thus energy usage by leaving lids on your pots during cooking. If you have frozen food items that you’re planning to cook with, thawing them in the fridge will reduce cooking time as well. Any reduction in oven usage results in a reduction in energy usage—and each reduction adds up over time!
When it comes to your refrigerator, you’ll want to make sure it is running smoothly and efficiently, since it runs nonstop. The fridge is one of the most costly appliances to run, so you’ll want to be sure it runs its best and saves you as much energy as possible. Make sure the door is sealed properly and tightly, preventing cold air from escaping. Air leaks are bad for the food inside as well as your home’s temp in winter. Keep your fridge and freezer temps around 40 and 5 degrees, respectively.
Heating and Cooling
Heating and cooling comprise a good chunk of your home’s energy bill, as both are important to well-being. In most locations, winter heating bills are the highest of the year, with heating accounting for more than 30% of your bill. When you use a programmable thermostat, you help cut down energy usage in the times you’re not home. Setting your heating temps no higher than 68 degrees in winter will save costs and energy, as every degree above that can add as much as 10% to your bill. Curtains, doors, and sunlight can also work to your advantage as well; close curtains when cooling and open them during sunny times of the day when heating. Close doors to rooms you aren’t using and shut air vents to prevent heating or cooling rooms you’re almost never in. Of course, ensuring that all doors and windows are properly sealed prevents air leakage and saves energy as well, and dressing properly for the weather will avoid extra costs and energy usage for both heating and cooling.
If you upgrade any appliances in the coming year, look for those that are ENERGY STAR certified, as they will automatically reduce energy usage and consumption. ENERGY STAR has a rating system that does the work for you, allowing you to choose from pre-approved appliances that use 10 to 15 percent less energy than regular or older models. ENERGY STAR also approves light bulbs as well—and when you switch to energy-efficient lighting, you can save as much as $75 annually in energy costs. Besides, energy-saving bulbs last longer and expend less heat than traditional bulbs, saving you money and energy in several ways.
Power strips can also help you save energy. You may not realize it, but most chargers and electronics still consume energy when plugged in, even if they are not in use. If you plug your electronics and chargers into a power strip, it is much easier to switch the whole power strip off when you’re not using the devices than to remember to unplug each one. Power strips are an inexpensive investment that help you to reduce your energy usage little by little over the year.
- Set up an annual maintenance schedule for your HVAC system
- Invest in a home energy audit done by a professional
Only two energy-saving ideas fall under the category of bigger undertakings, and neither one is a huge time or money investment. First, an annual HVAC “checkup” to ensure that your system is running properly is an excellent way to consistently save energy. HVAC systems, just like cars, need regular maintenance and fluid checks to function at their peak, and annual service checkups will prevent any huge problems as well as making your system last longer. When your system functions as it should, it won’t waste any energy and will save you money as well.
A home energy audit is probably the biggest item on the list of ways to conserve energy. When you set up an audit, a professional evaluates your energy usage and advises you on the areas of your home that you may be wasting energy. Then the auditor will suggest ways to fix these waste issues and prevent further waste, as well as ways you can conserve energy further and upgrade to save more money. A local energy office can put you in touch with an auditor to get you started. Who better than a professional to help you fulfill your New Year’s resolution?
As you can see, there are many ways in which you can reduce energy waste and usage for 2018. Even if you choose to implement just a few of these, your energy use and thus your bill will decrease. Implementing energy-saving measures is a great way to start—and finish—2018. Let this be one resolution that becomes a way of life!