Saving energy in your home can help to save you money and help the environment. Some things we can do require repeat behaviours, others are one off or rare tasks that can have lasting impacts. Below are three fairly easy ideas to help to reduce energy use in your home.
Turn down your hot water.
If the hot water coming from your tap is scalding, you’re probably heating it unnecessarily high and using excess energy to do so. Test it out by running the hot tap and putting a thermometer under it. If it’s higher than 66 degrees there’s a good chance of being burned, which is dangerous particularly if you have children.
Try turning it down to between 50 to 60 degrees celsius, depending how large your house is and how far your taps are from your unit. You may have to set a temperature and test it for a day or two to see whether it works for your house.
How to do this does depend on your unit, your level of experience and whether you require tools. Some units have the temperature dial on the outside, other more modern ones may have an insulated panel to remove to access.
If you have an electric unit you should also turn off the electric at the breaker. If you have a tankless heater it’s fairly straightforward to adjust the temperature on the digital panel.
If you have an external dial, turn it down, leave it a little time and test a tap temperature again.
If there’s a panel to remove, use a screwdriver to undo it, then use the screwdriver to adjust the temperature down, replace the panel, and restore the electricity. Leave it for a few hours or so and test the tap temperature again. If you have a gas unit, remember to check the pilot light is back on again, if not then you may have to re-light.
If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, next time you have a plumber come by it might be a quick and easy task for them to do.
Work with the weather, not against it.
Are you one of those people that has your house at 24 degrees in winter and 18 degrees in summer? Why not try to flip that around, go with 18-20 degrees in winter and 22-24 degrees in summer. This lowers the energy cost in each season rather than trying to fight the extremes. Try turning your thermostat down a little more at night when you are going to bed in winter, you’ll be all tucked up in your bedcovers and you’ll barely notice, and use just a very light sheet in summer so you don’t need to cool the house so much overnight. Also, if there often isn’t anyone at your house for long periods of time it might help to automate your heating/cooling system and set it to turn on just before anyone returns home. That way it isn’t heating or cooling a space just for the house plants or goldfish. This doesn’t necessarily mean turning it right off when no one is home, but just to a less extreme temperature, maybe 25 degrees in summer and 16 degrees in winter. Finally, if you aren’t sure you can handle the temperatures, wear more clothes inside in winter, extra socks, a sweater and pants so you don’t need to heat the house so much. Vice versa for summer, dresses, tanks, singlets, shorts, or skirts indoors for the win!
If you have only single pane windows it might be useful to get plastic wrap to cover to reduce energy loss, particularly in winter. On the hot days in summer make sure you close your curtains/blinds to reduce the amount of heat that comes in from outside.
Turn off your lights and appliances.
We all leave the lights on, or appliances plugged in. Sometimes it just seems so much easier. However, remembering to turn them off or unplug them can save you money on your energy bills and help to save the planet. Leave little notes by your door handle/light switch to remind yourself or your household to turn them off when they leave the room.
Any appliances that have a standby light or a digital clock will be using energy, like a tv standby light or gaming console. If you can remember to unplug them (if it’s not integral for them to remain on, i.e. your fridge/freezer!) you can greatly reduce the impact that they have.
Unplugging one electric toothbrush or phone charger might not seem like such a big deal, but what about that television, DVD player, microwave, printer, a games console, and the digital radio? This can add up to significant savings over a year if you have a lot of equipment on standby, particularly if it is older. Turning off or unplugging your appliances rather than being on standby can save 10% on your energy bill over the year.
For example, consider a microwave. You may only use it once or twice a day, or maybe less. The vast majority of the energy use and therefore cost of that item isn’t from it’s use, it’s from it sitting there with the clock running. Over the course of the year that becomes the majority of the cost of the microwave, rather than actually using it to heat food. If it’s the clock you use, maybe get a clock for your kitchen and unplug the microwave between uses. The relatively small inconvenience (depending where you’re plug is!) is worth it to save the planet and your hip pocket. It’s an easy way to do the right thing, stop our society being so wasteful with energy, and it all helps!