San Diego is in the middle of winter and, although it’s not as cold as other parts of the country or the world are, this is when increased heat usage can drive up electricity bills. Every day I read neighbors’ complaints about their expensive bills on our online community site. There are many ways we can lower our electricity bill without too much work. Here is what we do:
Unplug all electronics when not using them — Anything plugged into an electrical outlet uses energy even when not in use, so make sure electronics are plugged in only when being used. You can also invest in a smart strip that automatically turns off power when not in use. There is no surprise that the kitchen is where we use a lot of power. Too many kitchen appliances are usually plugged all the time. The problem is that even when not in use, appliances use so called phantom electricity, which makes up for more than 10% of an electricity bill. So, we unplug our coffee maker, toaster, blender, etc., after use.
Lower heat and water heater — Here on Zerowastefamily.com, I have already posted an article about how to keep your home warm the green and cheap way, so check it out.
Wash clothes in cold water — Modern day detergents don’t need hot water to work. Since 90% of the energy used for washing clothes is for heating the water, washing in cold water is a way to cut cost and go green. Furthermore, since hot water tends to fade colors, washing in cold water also will save your brightly colored clothes. To find out how much money your family can save by washing clothes with cold water, you can try Seven Generation’s Calculator.
Hang dry laundry — Hang drying laundry is perhaps a little more work, but it saves so much energy and actually saves your clothes, too. We invested in an Ikea drying rack that can be extended when in use and folded for easy storage when not. During summer when it’s really hot, laundry dries in no time so we really have no excuse.
Wrap external hot water pipes with insulating tape — This is a technique that reduces not only heat loss from your hot water tank but also the energy needed to heat it. This inexpensive tape can be found at a hardware store.
Turn off ice maker — A fridge will use a lot more energy if it’s also making ice, so one way to save money on your electricity bill is by turning off the ice maker.
Run dishwasher only when full.
Keep fridge door closed.
Use Energy-efficient Lightbulbs — The easiest way to go green is by changing out your lightbulbs. The three main types of energy-efficient light bulbs are listed below:
- CFLs (compact fluorescent bulbs)
- LEDs (light-emitting diodes)
- smart bulbs.
Although these lightbulbs are on average more expensive than the standard incandescent lightbulb, in the long run they are money savers.
Stop drafts — When I was sitting on the floor with the kids one day, I noticed a draft coming from one of the doors. Heat will escape through an opening, so sealing it will make a huge difference since drafts can account for up to 25% of heat loss.
One very inexpensive and easy way to prevent a draft from a door is to buy a draft snake or, better yet, make your own.
- For the sides of doors and windows, use adhesive backed foam that can be found at hardware stores. it’s easy to install.
- Blackout curtains are useful for keeping heat out in the summer months, and insulated curtains can help keep the cold out while retaining warmth inside. You can find these curtains on eBay or make your own.
- Make sure to open your curtains during the middle of the day when it is sunny to let the sun heat up your house.
A cold bed is no fun, but there are a few easy things you can do to make yours warm and cozy.
- Use flannel sheets.
- Use a wool blanket.
- Wear warm pajamas.
- My favorite way to stay warm while sleeping is to use a hot water bottle. We have a couple that we fill with hot water and place in the beds before going to sleep.
On another note — When it’s cold outside, there is nothing better than warm foods such as chili, stews and soups, or a cup of hot tea. Or why not cuddle under a blanket since shared body heat simply is the best!