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Using More Energy Now that You’re Home All the Time? Me Too. Here’s a Few Tips to Save Power.

After our first full month at home as a family, I wasn’t surprised that our power bill went up, but I was surprised at just how much additional electricity we were using. There are a few reasons for this:

  1. We’re keeping the house at 68 degrees during the day with our electric heat pump, whereas normally we let the temperature drop to 64F, warm enough for our doggie but not our little kids.
  2. We’re running our dishwasher twice a day.
  3. We’re using our home computers the whole work day.

To offset the extra energy you’ll be using while staying home, SCL has a few tips to cut your energy usage and electric bill. Beyond these, I’ve undertaken a few home projects and changed some habits to save some extra energy. 

First, I did a few things I should have done a long time ago – I got rid of the few remaining CFL bulbs in our house and replaced them with LEDs that I’d already bought that were just sitting the cabinet. LEDs use considerably less energy than a CFL bulb, have a longer lifespan, and the light is higher quality. I’d just been waiting for them to burn out, but I got tired of waiting while being home all day. I also replaced the incandescent appliance light bulb in my refrigerator with an LED bulb:

You might be tempted to think that this will only make a negligible difference – after all, you only have the door open for a short period of time each day. However, the energy used directly by the bulb is only part of the story. Most of the energy soaked up by an incandescent bulb turns into heat. If you’ve still got an incandescent bulb in your fridge, try this experiment: open the door for 10 seconds and try touching the bulb. It will be hot that you can’t hold on to it for more than an instant. Your fridge needs to work harder to compensate for all that heat. It’s worth the $5-10 that you need for a new bulb.

Another no-brainer project was to put a little more weather stripping on my old back door and eliminate the cold air draft that was coming in around the latch and below the door.

This took me around 10 minutes and I had the materials lying around already, but of all the things I’ve done this might actually have made the most difference. 

Finally, I undertook one slightly larger project – I finally insulated the garage door. This is more time consuming and will only make a moderate difference since the garage is not heated and we open the door a couple times a day to get out kids toys, bikes, and the like, but since it is attached to the house, it’s a vector for heat loss. Here’s a work in progress picture:

Beyond projects, there are some simple habits you can change to save energy. One that I’m not always great about is unplugging appliances and turning off power strips when they aren’t in use. Some others are easy – run all your appliances in the energy saver mode, set your washing machine to use cold water, and set your dishwasher to air dry the dishes.

I recently discovered that unless I use rinse aid, my LG dishwasher automatically selects the extra dry setting. There are some environmentally friendly rinse aids out there and they’ll help you save electricity. 

If you’ve got time to spare, it might also be worth hanging more of your clothes out to dry either inside or in the out in the sunny weather we’ve had recently. Of all the appliances in your house, your drying is probably the biggest energy hog, so using it as little as possible will make a big difference. 

I’ll have another post later this month about refrigerators, but that’s it for now. Stay healthy and stay safe everyone. 

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