Keep Your Joules - 15 Tips to Help You Save Energy

Written by Sarah Pepper
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There are plenty of good reasons you should reduce your, and your household’s, energy intake: to save money, to lessen your dependence on the grid, to help planet Earth. Whether the motivation is economic, environmental or just plain experimental, there are numerous ways to achieve this goal. Energy-reducing tactics can be applied to your use of electricity, water, heating and cooling systems, as well as to your driving habits and food intake. While there are many avenues for diminishing your joule-dependence, let me give you 15 relatively easy tips to help get you on your way!

  1.  Replace the light bulbs in your home and office with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). CFLs not only use less energy (one third to one fifth of that of an incandescent bulb) but they also have a longer life expectancy! This straightforward method can save you up to 75% on lighting costs. CFLs can be found in most local hardware stores or Brico downtown.
  2. Another very simple way to reduce your electrical energy intake is to turn off unnecessary lighting and use task or desktop lamps with CFLs instead of overhead lights.
  3. Unplug all the electronics, battery chargers and other equipment when they are not in use. Taken together, these small items can use as much power as your refrigerator.
  4. Enable "power management" on all your home and office computers and make sure to turn them off at night (computers still use energy in sleep mode). Additionally, a laptop uses up to 90% less energy than bigger desktop models, so I guess it is time to think about getting that new Mac Book Pro! On a related note: if you’re still using screensavers, stop! They provide no benefit for LCD screens, and they use up your precious joules.
  5. When it is possible, wash your clothes in cold water rather than warm or hot. Approximately 90% of the energy used in a clothes washer goes to water heating.
  6. Reduce heat and air leaks in your home. The biggest utility expense for most households is heating, so reducing how much heat leaves the house is key to lowering this cost. Here is a fun way to do it! On a windy day, carefully hold a lit incense stick next to your windows, doors, electrical boxes, plumbing fixtures, electri­cal outlets, ceiling fixtures, attic hatches, and other places where air may leak. If the smoke stream trav­els horizontally, you have located an air leak that may need caulking, sealing, or weather-stripping.
  7. You know those times when you run the tap to get the water hot enough? Well, instead of letting that water and cents flow down the drain, put a jug under the tap and collect the water. Once the water is hot, remove the jug and go give your indoor plants a drink (plants usually prefer lukewarm to warm water anyway so they will be happy with this idea).
  8. When getting ready to drive on a cold day, avoid idling. Think about it—idling gets you 0 miles per gallon. The best way to warm up a vehicle is to drive it. No more than 30 seconds of idling on winter days is needed. Anything more will simply waste fuel and increases emissions.
  9. When you are in the kitchen, make energy-efficient cooking choices by using small appliances, such as the toaster oven, electric skillet or slow cooker for specialized jobs. Quite simply- small appliances use less energy.
  10. This tip is only for those households with a very effective dishwasher- skip rinsing the dishes! Rinsing dishes before loading them into the dishwasher only wastes energy. For those of us with less than desirable dishwashing machines, just rinse with cold water instead of warm or hot.
  11. Put a lid on it! Another crafty kitchen technique to reduce energy use is to cook food and boil water in a covered container whenever possible. This traps the heat inside and requires less energy.
  12. Turn off the water when you are brushing your teeth or shaving, especially if it is warm water.
  13. Don't use the toilet as a wastebasket or ashtray - water is wasted every time you flush.
  14. One way to reduce your energy footprint on a global scale is to be diligent about recycling all your newspapers, cans, bottles, plastics, cardboard and other materials. It takes a lot of energy to make new containers, paper products and packaging so let’s all try and make sure we are not being lazy about using the green, blue and yellow bags!
  15. And here is the last one. It is a little controversial but I think will make all the Sunbeams readers feel good! Rely on online news sources rather than printed newspapers or magazines. It takes a lot of energy to make the paper, print and deliver these publications to your door.
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