National Energy Awareness Month: Save the Planet and Your Electric Bill
October is anticipated and celebrated for a number of reasons. Children eagerly wait to wear their Halloween costumes and trick-or-treat while women pull sweaters and boots out of the back of closets. Pumpkin spice coffee returns and sweet treats are almost impossible to ignore. The leaves change colors and autumn is quickly ushered in. Oct. 1 also marks the beginning of National Energy Awareness Month in the United States, 31 days dedicated to promoting energy conservation.
Americans depend on energy to perform the majority of their everyday tasks. Think about the first hour after you wake up in the morning; what are the first things you do? Turn off the alarm clock or cell phone that is plugged into an electrical outlet in the wall. Next, there’s a nice warm shower followed by quickly blow-drying your hair before popping a K-Cup into the Keurig and running out the door to start your car.
Don’t get me wrong; a shower and cup of hot coffee on a cool, early morning are both necessities, but these things, like numerous other household utilities that require energy, can really add up. Even if that isn’t your morning routine, could you imagine a day without using energy? Energy includes anything that uses electricity–computers, lights, appliances such as refrigerators and washers/dryers, air conditioning, water heaters and much, much more.
Excessive energy usage is not only harmful to your electric bill but also to the environment. The production, distribution and use of electricity is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, and about one-third of these emissions come from residential and commercial buildings. By reducing the consumption of energy in your household, you can also help to eliminate harmful gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide from the atmosphere. This October, before you turn up your thermostat to combat the chilly weather, check out a few simple ways to save energy at home; you’ll help save the ozone and your utilities bill.
Turn It Off
Turn off computers in your house at night and on the weekends when they aren’t in use. A desktop computer that is constantly running can cost a household up to three times more a year than if it were turned off or put to sleep when it is not being used. Extend the habit of turning off devices at home to light switches, TVs and game console as well. A game consoles such as an Xbox or PlayStation® can use more than a refrigerator’s worth of electricity each year if it isn’t turned off or powered-down.
About 42 percent of the energy used in the home during the fall is due to the continuous use of heating systems. In order to save energy and money on electricity bills during the cold months, make sure that your house is properly insulated and all of your air filters are clean. Dirty filters block airflow, causing systems to work harder and in turn waste more energy. Poor insulation is another cause of heat loss within the home. By checking for air leaks around walls, ceilings, windows, doors and electrical outlets and switches, it is possible to reduce heating bills by up to 20 percent.
LED light bulbs cost about $5 to buy at a home improvement store or supercenter but can save more than $100 over the bulb’s lifetime. LED bulbs use up to 85 percent less energy than regular light bulbs and deliver the same amount of light for much longer.
Run your dishwasher only when it is completely full in order to conserve water. Also, use cold water when doing laundry. Unless the load is full of extremely dirty clothes that require hot water, use cold water. You’ll save up to 50 cents a load and achieve the same clean.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, up to 23 percent of the electricity consumed in homes in the United States is lost as “standby” or “always-on vampire power” when electronics and appliances are constantly plugged in, whether or not they are in use. Unplug your cell phone chargers during the day and keep your toaster or electric toothbrush unplugged unless it is being used in order to save hundreds of dollars annually.
National Energy Awareness Month is intended to raise awareness about the importance of using the nation’s energy resources effectively and sustainably. Because using less energy decreases carbon dioxide emissions, making your home more energy efficient has the same effects on the planet as carpooling, recycling or planting trees. It also costs less to power an energy-efficient home. Basically, saving energy within your home can also save the planet and your money. HLM
Sources: ase.org, epa.gov, nrdc.org, simplyliving.org and whitehouse.gov.