Thursday, September 18, 2008

6 No Brainer Ways to Save Energy and Money

And a few dumb ideas to skip

Here are a few things you can do that will save energy and money, but require little thought or effort.

1. Change your light bulbs. Go to the store and buy enough fluorescents to replace every light bulb in your house. I'll warn you this won't be a cheap spend, but it's worth it. Plus they last a long time. I did this last November and haven't had to replace any of those bulbs.

A standard 60 watt light bulb used 4 hours each day for one month uses 7.2 kilowatts/month and costs $10/year. Multiply that by the number of bulbs in your house. A compact fluorescent used in the same way will use 2.2 kilowatts/month and cost $2/year.

2. Set your dishwasher to Energy Saver mode. Many dishwashers have such a setting, even cheap old ones like mine--it's 10 years old. If not set the wash cycle to warm and turn off the heated dry. Mine also has something called "pot scrubber" and I'm sure that there aren't little scrub brushes in there. Turn that setting off too. Your dishes will be just as clean.

As much as 80 percent of the energy your dishwasher uses goes to heat water. A basic dishwasher run costs $.12. Depending on your dishwasher turning off the heated dry could save between 15-50% energy. BTW: On average, a dishwasher will use 5000 litres of water per year to wash dishes. Washing by hand uses approximately 14,400 Litres of water per year.

3. Turn the washing machine to warm or even cold. Even if you don't have the newest energy saver washing machine, most machines made in the last 15 years are designed to work efficiently on cold settings. Detergents have greatly improved over the years and do just fine in cold. If you can set your rinse setting always use cold water since it has no effect on cleaning the laundry.

4. Keep a large fluffy towel in the dryer at all times. This one takes a little effort and training for the whole family, so it's not quite a no-brainer. But the fluffy towel will absorb some of the wetness from the laundry and cut your drying time.

Using your clothes dryer once a day each month could use 132 kilowatts/month and cost $174/year.

5. Change your air filter every month, even in the summer. Mark it on the calendar so you won't forget. If you've got central air and heating this is a must. Not changing the filter might even damage your unit. Changing it monthly will help it run more efficiently. And don't forget to turn that thermostat down now that cool weather is coming.

6. Turn down the setting on your hot water heater--no one will know the difference. Over 10% of your energy bill goes to heating water. Adjust your setting to 120 degrees and you'll still have comfortable showers.

Don't bother:

Installing a low-flow shower head. Don't get me wrong I'm all for low-flow shower heads. But, first check what you've got already. Most houses built after 1994 already have low-flow shower heads.

Same goes for water saving toilets. If your toilet is less than 14 years old don't put a brick in it.

Water saving toilets and low-flow shower heads become mandatory building code in 1994.

Note: My calculations are based on national averages. Of course yours might be different, but this still gives you a good idea of how much you can affect.

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