Top 10 Tips for Home Efficiency
There are endless ways to make your home more efficient, but some are easier than others to implement. Energy efficiency retrofits are a great way to update your home (and save money on your monthly bills), but once you’ve done the efficiency upgrades, you can take on these 10 tips for home efficiency to further reduce your electricity needs.
The following list includes some of the many ways you can create a more sustainable home with some simple habit changes. These tips won’t break the bank and don’t require spending a lot of time shopping for products to upgrade your home.
1. Hanging clothes to dry inside
Even if you live in a colder climate, you can reduce the need to turn on your dryer, or turn it on for a long time, by finding ways to hang clothes inside using a foldable drying rack, an indoor retractable clothesline, or just hanging items on hangers in your room. The dryer is one of the biggest energy hogs in the house, so you’re saving money each time you can avoid using it.
A foldable rack works best for small things, like dishtowels and pillowcases, but hangers are best for clothes. And when possible, I hang my sheets on the clothesline or drape over doors for a day of drying. Learn more about hanging clothes to dry inside here.
2. Cold water wash your laundry
Using the cold setting on your washing machine is just as effective as warm water, and saves a ton of energy that would be used to heat the water. Simply change the settings on your washing machine to cold wash/cold rinse and you’re done and save yourself about $60/year. Get more laundry efficiency tips here.
3. Changing computer settings
Our computers (and other devices) are vital parts of our work and home life, but learning how to make the most of their settings to reduce battery and electricity use is imperative. For instance, using a screensaver not only doesn’t save your screen, it uses a bunch of extra electricity AND costs you money. Here are our best tips for making your computer more efficient.
4. Food storage techniques
It might seem a stretch to say the food storage leads to reduced energy usage, but it’s true. Making sure your liquid containers are covered means less humidity in the fridge, which reduces frost (which, in turn, makes your fridge work harder). Also, have you ever made boiled some water and made tea, then put the tea into your fridge to turn it into iced tea? Or cooked some food and put the leftovers into a glass Pyrex and put it in the fridge? Well, if you wait a bit to ensure that your food has cooled to room temperature (or close to it) before putting it away means that the fridge has to work less to keep it cool. Cooling a food item from 200 degrees down to 37 uses a lot more energy than cooling it from room temp down to 37. It’s like that old story you hear about grandma baking a pie and putting it on the windowsill to cool rather than heating up the house. You know, back in the day when people still cooked their own stuff?
Click here for more fridge and freezer efficiency tips.
5. Fridge organization
Keeping a fuller fridge and freezer is actually a key to energy success. If you are a light shopper and don’t have a full freezer or fridge, you can use old jugs or jars filled with water in either the freezer or fridge to act as ‘cold batteries.’ The more empty space you have, the more air that escapes when you open the door, and the harder the fridge has to work to return to cool after being opening. Get more kitchen efficiency tips here.
6. Pre-measure water for tea/coffee
This is one of the most important tips that I’ve learned over the years, and it saves not only energy but water too. If you use an electric kettle, stovetop, or microwave to heat your water for tea or coffee, measuring the amount of water beforehand means you’re only heating up the proper measure of water each time, and it ensures that no energy goes to waste heating up water you’re not going to use (this saves time, too AND keeps down the risk of spilling hot water on yourself!).
7. Coldbrew your coffee
If you are a regular drinker of coffee, you can save time and energy by using a cold-brew method to prepare your coffee for the next day. This method is best in a French press, where you can just measure the coffee grinds, stir with water, and let it rest overnight. If you prefer your coffee warm, you can heat in the microwave or on the stovetop for a minute to take the chill out. This method works with some strong teas, like black tea or hibiscus flowers, too. Here are some tips for the best cold brew coffee.
8. Dishwasher Efficiency
Turning off your automatic drying setting in your dishwasher can reduce the dishwasher energy consumption by 15% to 50% than the heat-dry setting. And of course, always running a full load can help ensure that the water and energy that does get used is utilized most efficiency.
9. Choose the right appliance for the job
Even though microwaves are not well-loved in the health community, they are actually the most energy efficient method of reheating your food, using two-thirds less energy than your stove for quick cooking. Another option is a countertop toaster oven: these small ovens heat up really quickly, using about one-third of the time and energy of heating a full size oven. Read more here about which appliances use the most energy in your home.
10. Keeping cool without cranking the AC
Air conditioning can be really helpful, but sometimes there are ways to cool down that don’t require you to turn on the AC. Having a ceiling fan or a portable fan can often be enough to cool a room (but remember that fans work to cool people, not a room, so be sure to turn them off then you leave the room). And always be sure to close your curtains or blinds to keep out the heat, which can help reduce the need for fans and AC.