The Ultimate Guide to Saving Energy at Home

Wondering how you can use less electricity to save more money on your monthly utility bills? There are numerous ways to reduce energy consumption. In this article we’ll share a few simple tips that you can start doing right now.

5 Energy Saving Solutions

1) Shut Down Your Computer at Night

Did you know that turning off your energy-sucking computer overnight can actually save you around $36 a year? You’ve probably heard someone say this will hurt your computer, which is why you’re not doing this energy-saving practice now, but did you also know that…

    • You can turn your computer on and off over 40,000 times without doing any damage. 
    • Even just turning off the monitor instead of letting a screensaver waste energy will help save on energy.

2) Switch to LED Bulbs

LED bulbs use up to 75% less energy, and they’re affordable, too. You can find LED bulbs in all kinds of shapes and light levels at your local hardware shop. ‌

3) Use Power Strips

Let’s say you have a computer, printer, monitor, desk lamp, and phone charger in your home office. If they’re all plugged into one power strip, you can turn them all off with one switch. Isn’t it easy to save energy? 

    • Wait, what if I’m not even using them? Do I still need to turn them off? Even if they’re not plugged in, these devices are still using what’s known as “phantom” energy—clever name because you never see the waste of energy coming.

4) Unplug All Electronics

Televisions, microwaves, scanners, and phone chargers use standby power—even when they’re off. That’s why your charger can feel warm, even when your phone isn’t plugged into it. 

    • According to a study on the effects of idle electronics on energy usage in the United States, it’s reported that Americans waste as much energy as 50 power plants will produce in one year! 
    • Remember the dad joke: “Turn the lights off; I’m not paying to light the whole neighborhood!” Dad knows what he’s talking about.

5) Before You Leave a Room, Turn Off the Lights

This tip seems so easy…so simple yet way too many people still think it doesn’t matter. But it does matter, especially if you have incandescent bulbs.

Before we get back to more energy saving tips for your home, let’s first review the main differences between light bulbs and how they can either save or waste more energy at home.

How Your Light Bulbs Affect Your Utility Bills

Incandescent Lights 

Incandescent lights should be turned off whenever they are not needed, because they’re just not very efficient. In fact, 90% of the energy they use is wasted as heat, and only 10% is used as light. Turning them off also keeps a room cooler.  

Halogen Lights

Halogen lights use the same technology as traditional incandescent bulbs, but they’re still not as efficient as CFL or LED lights. Turn off halogen lights whenever you can. Turning them off and on doesn’t hurt them and reduces energy.

CFL Lights

CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamps) lights are very efficient, but you can shorten their life if you switch them on and off all the time. However, turning off fluorescent lights for more than 5 seconds will save more energy than you consume by turning them back on again. You’ll use less energy and save money turning them off, but you’ll need to replace the bulb sooner. Your choice.

A good general rule for CFL lights is this: If you’re out for 15 minutes or less, leave them on. If you leave for more than 15 minutes, turn them off. 

LED Lights

The lifespan of LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights is not affected by turning them on and off. This means you can turn LED lights on or off as often as you choose. 

LED lights are also better for light and movement sensors (that can turn on and off all the time), and they reach full brightness almost instantly. 

Whether you use gas, oil, propane or (yes) electricity to heat or cool your home, you can reduce your energy use and costs with these 5 easy steps.

Want More Energy Saving Solutions

Here’s a list of other tips you can try to help reduce energy use at home:

Be efficient when you set your thermostat.

In the summer, for example, set it between 77 and 80 °F. During the winter, set it between 64 and 68 °F.

Use a smart thermostat.

Smart thermostats can keep your place cool during the day (saving energy) and automatically turn the temperature up before you get home. 

  • With some smart thermostats, you can even control the temperature with your smartphone, too. 
  • Smart thermostats also heat or cool your home more efficiently than regular thermostats. 
  • They even generate reports so you know how much energy you’re using.

In the summer, keep heat out by closing curtains, blinds or drapes.

In the winter, keep these items open and let the sun shine in to help warm the place.

Use light, pale colors for your walls, ceilings, and floors.

Instead of absorbing light, they reflect more light. That means you get more light for less.

  • High-gloss paints are even better. Light, pale walls also don’t absorb heat, so your home will be cooler in the summer.

Insulating your home will reduce energy use.

If your home is not insulated, it traps more heat in the summer, and it loses heat in the winter. 

  • Uninsulated homes force you to spend more energy on heating and air conditioning.

Seal gaps or cracks in your home.

This practice can also reduce your heating and cooling bill. Energy efficient windows are a must in colder climates.

Invest in energy-efficient appliances.

That Energy Star label means the appliance is 75% more energy efficient than other appliances. 

  • Using electronics with an Energy Star label can significantly reduce your energy consumption and bills.

The most efficient temperature for your refrigerator is 38 to 42 °F.

Your freezer should be 0 to 5 °F. If it has a power-save switch, use it and also make sure the door seals tightly.

To make your oven energy efficient, be sure the seal on the door is tight.

Open the door only when needed; otherwise, you’re wasting heat.

Use your microwave to reheat food.

When you reheat small portions with your oven, you waste energy. Use your microwave instead.

Your washing machine uses a lot of energy, be sure you use it efficiently.

Using cold water can save you up to 50 cents per load, and it’ll clean your clothes just as effectively. 

  • Using the highest spin cycle will remove more moisture and reduce drying time. 
  • Front-loading washers save water and energy. 
  • Newer, high-efficiency washing machines save even more water and energy and use less detergent to boot.

You can save energy when using your dryer, too.

Lint wastes energy, so be sure to clean the filter every time you use it. Drying heavy and light fabrics separately saves energy.

A Few More Energy Saving Tips

Another great way to save energy at home is keeping an eye on your water consumption. You can reduce any excessive water usage by:

  • limiting your shower time to under 5 minutes
  • turning off the faucet when you brush your teeth
  • washing only full loads of laundry or dishes
  • avoiding pre-washing your dishes
  • installing low-flush toilets and low-volume faucets
  • limiting your use of sprinklers
  • making sure all sprinkler water hits grassy areas, not sidewalks or parking lots

Recycling can also significantly reduce your energy consumption, as does planting trees. In fact, having a shaded yard can greatly reduce how much air conditioning you need to cool your home.

Before we go, let’s look at one last area of the home that can waste energy: old wiring.

Rewiring an Old Home

If you live in an older home, it’s likely you’ve inherited old wiring. It often surprises homeowners to learn that faulty or damaged wiring is one of the main reasons they’re seeing higher fees on their energy bills. But think of it this way, if your home’s wiring is damaged, it will affect the appliances and devices the minute you plug them into a power source.

This could result in appliances heating up quickly (i.e. circuit overload) and consuming excessive energy than they would normally. But the increase in heat isn’t only wasting energy…it’s also creating a potential fire hazard, too. If you notice your appliances, wires, or circuit breaker is getting hot when in use, it’s time to call in the experts to check your home’s wiring.

On this list, we wanted to include things you can do independently of a professional electrician, but when it comes to rewiring your home, you do need an expert. Lucky for you, EarlyBird Electric can help!

Need Help Rewiring an Old Home?

Proudly serving the Twin Cities Metro area and St. Cloud with quality electrical services and affordable solutions, we offer fast, convenient ways to schedule an appointment, as well as 24/7 emergency services to ensure your home’s wiring is running smoothly and is helping you save energy.

For questions or to have one of our technicians come to your home to perform an inspection of its existing wiring, contact us today

The general knowledge and advice in this blog is designed to give you a little background information about your electrical system and may not be complete or contain minor errors.  Early Bird Electric is not responsible for any consequences if you attempt to fix your electrical problem using this information. It’s always a good idea to hire a local, licensed electrician like Early Bird Electric to safely and professionally handle the job.