The electricity that we use in our homes is
Producing electricity often requires a lot of resources. A large portion of electricity is produced through the use of fossil fuels, though lower-impact and renewable resources such as hydroelectricity are emerging.
Burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide into our environment, and the production of electricity is one of the largest sources of uncontrolled mercury emissions. Hydro dams and power lines also have an impact on our ecosystems.
The key factor that defines renewable energy is that the resources can keep up with the demand without being obliterated. That doesn’t mean that they’re entirely pollutant-free, though. Solar power, wind, geothermal energy, water, biomass, biogas and biofuels are all types of renewable resources.
Some of the electricity you use may be from a renewable resource. You can do a quick internet search to see what types of electrical power are harnessed in your area. For example, in Canada, almost 60 percent of the electricity used is hydroelectricity.
12 Ways of Reducing Your Electricity Usage
Minimizing your electricity use means that less fuel will need to be burned and fewer resources will need to be consumed. Even if renewable resources are being used, the less strain there is on the system, the easier it is for it to keep up with demand.
The impact of one person may sound insignificant, but if we all do our part—even just a little bit—then our impact will be much larger. Plus, that’s not to mention all the cost-saving benefits you’ll reap by using less electricity at home!
Here are 12 things that you can do, right now, to reduce the electricity usage level in your home:
Turn Things Off When They’re Not in Use
Aside from turning off the lights when you leave a room, remember to turn off your TV, shut down your computer (or better yet, upgrade your desktop to a more energy-efficient laptop!) and shut off any other
Unplug Electronic Devices Whenever Possible
If this is too difficult to remember, or too time-consuming, another option is plugging them all into a power bar that you can switch off easily when you’re not going to be around. Cell phone chargers, coffee makers, home entertainment tools, printers and other devices with indicator lights can all use small amounts of energy when turned off—and it all adds up!
Choose Energy Efficient (Energy Star) Appliances
Old appliances such as refrigerators use a ton of energy, so consider upgrading if you have the means.
It’s also important to make sure that your appliances are running efficiently. For example, check what temperature your fridge is running at (the ideal temperatures are between 2 and 3 degrees Celsius in the fridge and -18 in the freezer), check any gaskets for leaks, make sure that filters (i.e., from the dryer) are cleared and get tune-ups where applicable.
Check Your Insulation and Weather-Proofing
Make sure your home is properly insulated so you can keep it at a comfortable temperature. Check the seals around windows and doors, and add weather-proofing as necessary. Ensure that windows and roofs are in good repair. Utilize blinds and curtains to provide extra shade in the summer and put a damper on any drafts in the winter. This will save you money on your heating or cooling costs, depending on the season.
Be Mindful of Heating and Cooling
Consider lowering the temperature on your thermostat when heating your home, or conversely increasing the temperature for cooling. Two degrees could make a difference of 5 percent on your electricity bill!
Additionally, starting the air conditioner in the morning when it’s still cool outside is more energy-efficient than waiting until the house is already hot. The same goes for the heater when you’re anticipating a cold period.
A good ceiling fan requires much less energy than an air conditioning unit, and can also go a long way toward cooling down a hot room.
Make the Most of Your Hot Water Heater
Make the most of your hot water heater by taking shorter showers. You can also increase its efficiency by insulating the hot water tank and the pipes that carry hot water. Remember to also turn the water off when you’re brushing your teeth, shaving or lathering soap.
Follow These Tips When Doing Laundry
Hang your clothes to dry on a clothes horse or on an outdoor line instead of using the dryer. Another trick is to add a dry towel to the dryer if you do need to use it—it can help absorb some of the moisture and thereby help things dry more quickly.
Using cold water for washing also decreases the amount of energy used, since you won’t need to make use of the hot water heater. Interestingly, front-loading washing machines use less electricity (as well as less water and detergent) than top-loading machines—just something to keep in mind if you’re on the hunt for a new one!
Time Your Usage Strategically
Use energy-hungry machines during off-peak hours, in accordance with those of your local hydro company.
Skip the Heat When Doing Dishes
Opting to use a dishwasher can be a more efficient use of water than hand-washing if you’re washing a full load; however, the heat cycle isn’t really necessary, and you can save on your energy costs by skipping it.
Use Small Appliances to Prepare Food
Using the microwave, a crock pot or a toaster oven requires much less electricity than using the oven or stovetop. Try to plan meals around these smaller appliances and ensure that you make efficient use of your oven or stovetop if you do choose to use it.
Ditch the Incandescent Bulbs
Choose compact fluorescent bulbs—or, better still, LED lights—instead of incandescent bulbs. These alternatives use around 80 percent less electricity!
Make a Renewable Energy Investment
If you have the financial means to do so, consider investing in a renewable energy source for your home such as solar panels. The upfront installation can be costly, but over time, this can save you a fortune and is also the best way of truly reducing your impact on the environment.
A Little Bit Goes a Long Way
Whether you take small steps towards reducing your environmental impact, such as turning your lights off, or make a big leap by upgrading an old fridge or installing solar panels, every bit of effort is important.
It’s a more powerful step to get a lot of people to make small, yet mindful changes than it is for one person to make grand, sweeping changes. With that in mind, don’t forget to encourage other members of your household, or even your broader community, to do their part!