Conserve Energy: Tips and Tricks for Your Everyday Life
When reading all of the horror stories about pollution and global warming and what it is doing to our planet and to us, surely many people wonder how can they fix this? Well actually, it is not that difficult. The easiest thing you can do in your home and in your everyday life is conserve energy. By reducing your energy output, you help lower your carbon footprint and lessen the waste that is ultimately produced. Luckily, there is a lot that you can do to conserve your energy.
Energy conservation are efforts made to reduce the overall consumption of energy by using less of any service. These services include many things, for example, in home lighting and heating, your refrigerators, your cooking appliances, and many more. But what does this conservation actually do? Well, it does a lot. By saving energy, you are helping the environment a lot. There is a direct connection between energy use and the health of the environment. When you use less energy, you are reducing the amount of toxic gases and/or chemicals that are released from power plants, which generate this energy.
To get a little more specific, by conserving energy you can protect the air and combat climate change. We all know what causes air pollution. Greenhouse gases created by burning fossil fuels. Most power plants that generate electricity are able to do so from fossil fuels. So by you using less power in your home, the power plant does not have to generate as much on their end. This means less gases being emitted into our air.
Everyone probably knows what carbon dioxide is. The leading cause of most air pollution. When this gas is released into our atmosphere, it absorbs the sun’s heat and ultimately traps that heat in the atmosphere. It then produces what is known as the “greenhouse effect”, which is the warming of the Earth’s surface due to this and other gases.
Why Conserve Energy
The most obvious reason, and the one that most people care about is money. By using less energy in your home, you will end up paying less for your electric bill, gas bill, etc. Isn’t that what the world revolves around right now? Attempting to save as much money as possible. However, there are many more reasons why we should conserve energy besides money.
For those who think in the long term, it is becoming more apparent that we are depleting our natural resources. When you choose to cut back on your energy use, you are also helping to save the few natural resources we have left. It is all supply and demand, in a sense. The less demand for energy there is, thus creates less demand for harvesting fossil fuels. This also comes back around to money once again. As fossil fuels become more and more scarce, they will also become extremely expensive.
Ecosystems and Wildlife
Getting away from money and monetary value for a moment. By choosing to conserve energy, you will also be helping save the various ecosystems that are all over the Earth and the wildlife that reside in them. Through the extraction of fossil fuels like mining, logging, and other material extraction, habitats are being destroyed. Manmade air pollution is one of the main reasons that biodiversity is disappearing at 1,000 times the normal extinction rate.
Oil spills are another byproduct of fossil fuel usage. These spills are devastating, not only to animal life, but also human health. If swimming in oil polluted water is harmful if not deadly for marine life, do you think it’s safe for humans? No, it is not. In addition, chemical dumping is still an issue in many places. Apparently, companies do not care about environmental regulations, they just care about, guess what...money. How would you like someone dumping a ton of toxic waste into your swimming pool or bathtub? Doesn’t sound so fun, does it?
How to Conserve Energy
But let’s get to the real reason why you are here. That is, how in the world can you actually conserve energy? To start, conserving energy in your home is broken down into a few different categories. Lighting, heating and cooling, cooking, appliances, transportation, and then some miscellaneous tips and tricks. These are some ideas that you can do, that do not require switching to renewable power (which is the best way to be green). Shall we get started?
- Turn off your lights! You do not need your lights on in a room when you are not in that room. Most of the time, if you have a window that lets in a good amount of sunlight, you do not even need the light on when you are in it.
- Buy LEDs. Yes, they are expensive to buy. However, this is about the long term. LEDs last as long as 50,000 hours and use 2-17 watts. That is ⅓-1/30 of incandescents. They also do not have any heavy metals like mercury that CFLs contain.
- Using dimmers is a great way to conserve energy in your lights if you need to use them during the day or evening, when a lot of light is not needed.
- Do not put a lamp right next to your thermostat. The thermostat will sense the heat coming off of the lamp and cause it to reach the set room temperature too quickly and switch off. Then it will start back up again because the lamp will be generating a lot of heat directly on the thermostat.
Heating and Cooling
- Change or clean your furnace and air conditioner filters regularly to ensure that your heating and cooling systems are running efficiently. Dust can restrict airflow, making your system work harder than it has to.
- Install a programmable thermostat to regulate your heating and cooling while you are not home. Or just turn off your air conditioner while you are not home.
- Test windows and doors to see if they need new weather-stripping. You can do this by moving a lit candle around the edges. If the flame flickers, you need to install new weather-stripping. Whatever you do, do not put the candle near any curtains or blinds. You would think we wouldn’t have to say this.
- Be careful not to overheat or overcool your rooms. In the winter, it is best to set your thermostat to 68 degrees in the daytime and 55 degrees at night. In the summer keep it at 78. Lowering your thermostat just 2 degrees in the winter can save 6% of heating related CO2 emissions. That is a reduction of 420 pounds of CO2 per year for a typical home.
- Install ceiling fans to improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling systems
- Add attic insulation to increase the efficiency of both your furnace and air conditioner.
Cooking and Kitchen
- Thaw any frozen food before cooking it. Otherwise you will waste energy by defrosting it in the microwave or oven.
- Keep your fridge at 38 degrees fahrenheit. If your fridge has a dial with numbers 1-10, you can buy a fridge thermometer relatively cheap. For your freezer, keep it at 5 degrees. Doing so will stop the fridge and freezer from working too hard to keep it colder than they need to be.
- When boiling water, be sure to cover the pan. This will make the water boil much quicker and use less energy.
- You can turn off the burner just before the food is completely cooked. The residual heat will finish the job.
- Make more food than you need. This way you can heat up the rest later which uses less energy, instead of making a whole new dish.
- Use the appropriate size burner on your range. Small for small pots or pans, large for, well, large pots or pans.
- Do not worry about preheating much for most recipies. With the exception of pastries or cakes.
- Buy Energy Star appliances like washing machine, fridge, and many others.
- Set your clothes washer to the warm or cold setting. Switching from hot to warm fro 2 loads per week can actually save nearly 500 pounds of CO2 per year, if you have electric water heater. 150 pounds for a gas heater.
- Completely fill your dishwasher and use the energy saver setting. In addition, air dry your dishes as much as possible. Not using the heat in the drying cycle can save up to 20% of the dishwashers total energy use.
- Turn down the thermostat for the water heater. 120 F is perfectly fine, no need to be higher. In fact, each 10 degree decrease saves 600 pounds of CO2 per year on an electric heater, 440 pounds for a gas heater.
- Unplug chargers for laptops and cell phones when not using them. They still draw power even when not in use.
- Better yet, buy a surge protector that has an on/off switch. Turn it off whenever you are not using it.
- Buy a outlet timer. Anything plugged into these will automatically turn on or off depending on the time set.
- Whenever possible, walk, bike, carpool, or use public transit. Cars are the #1 source of CO2 emissions.
- Every gallon of gas you save, avoids 22 pounds of CO2 emissions. For example, if your car gets 25 miles per gallon, and you reduce your annual driving from 12,000 to 10,000, you will save about 1,800 pounds of CO2.
- When you buy a new car, look for one with excellent milage. Not only will this be great for your wallet, but it is also good for the environment.
- If possible, look into buying an electric or hybrid car.
Tips and Tricks
- Air dry clothing. Not only will it relieve some stress on your clothes making them last longer, it will also conserve the energy usually used by the dryer.
- Get yourself a low-flow shower head. These reduce the amount of water usage during a standard shower.
- Also, reduce the time spent in the shower. Water waste is a leading contributor to water pollution. Clean water is also becoming increasingly scarce.
- Reduce, reuse, recycle. By recycling certain materials, those materials can be made into new materials, the manufacturing of which uses much less energy than using raw materials.
- Compost kitchen waste rather than either throwing it away or putting in the garbage disposal.
- Consider repainting certain areas of your home. Dark colors absorb heat more than lighter colors.
Renewable Energy Sources
Now while trying to conserve energy is a great idea, an even better idea is switching to renewable energy. Right now, it is more affordable than ever. The best renewable resources for personal or neighborhood, as well as company use, are wind and solar.
Solar energy is a great choice for a personal home or company. It is completely sustainable, there are new applications becoming available every day, as well as new technology to make it even more efficient. In addition, solar power does not emit any CO2 or other gases and it is quiet which makes it free of all types of pollution. Certain governments are also offering reimbursements and tax deductions for the installation of solar panels. They even reduce your energy bill a lot!
Wind is a better choice for a neighborhood or business as the windmills used to generate the wind power do take up a lot of space. However, they are just as clean as solar power, and the power source is immensely abundant. The windmills can be a bit noisy and obstruct the natural skyline but with all of the benefits they offer, it may just be worth it.
Other sources of renewable energy include water, geothermal, and biomass. Many of these energy sources are already in use all over the world. Hydroelectricity has been a common source for many years now.
You Know What You Need To Do
To conserve energy is to save the Earth. Climate change and pollution are at an all time high and something needs to be done to reduce and prevent the effects of them. The results of continuous activities are disastrous. From increased power and frequency of extreme weather to the complete melting of the ice caps. Loss of animal life and habitat and increased health risks for humans. Do your part and start to conserve energy today in your daily life. You will find that it is not that difficult and can even be beneficial for your health and your wallet.