You’ve been hearing about saving energy since you were a kid: Turn off the light when you leave the room. Close the door (“we’re not paying to heat/cool the whole neighborhood…”). Don’t leave the refrigerator door open.
Today, that parental advice is likely to be coming from our own lips as more and more people look for ways to cut energy costs. With rising energy prices and higher demands, saving power today is more important than ever.
Complicating this mission, however, are the gear and gadgets we use every day. Even though today’s appliances have become more energy efficient, we’re using them far more than before. In fact, according to a study released earlier this year by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the use of electronic gadgets has offset many of the gains made by these energy-conscious appliances. So how do you cut your costs without pulling the plug?
Downsize your usage
One of your best bets is to invest in equipment that uses less energy. To find those, turn to EnergyStar, a government-supported program that aims to protect the environment by increasing energy efficiency. The site offers a wealth of information on how to cut costs, as well as listings of the most energy efficient products — in categories including appliances, computers, and electronic equipment — to help you make the most energy-efficient purchases.
Another common energy thief is your lighting, which, according to the American Lighting Association, accounts for about 17 percent of your energy consumption. Today’s new lighting options, which include dimmers, timers, and sensors, can use less light or help turn off the lights when not in use.
Go with the gadgets
If you really want to get serious about saving energy, check out some of the great new gadgets on the market that will help you control electricity use.
- Get charged! Let’s face it, we use lots of electricity to keep our phones, e-readers, and MP3 players charged, so why not grab some of that energy from the sun? Solio produces a full line of solar-powered chargers that will charge all of the above, plus your camera, GPS devices, and more. The added benefit is that you can charge your devices wherever you are — even if there’s no electricity to be found.
- Use smarter power strips. Even if you’ve pressed the “off” button, electronics are still consuming standby energy. Belkin and Associa Advantage partner e3 living have strips that let you turn off all peripheral gadgets when the designated main equipment powers down, immediately stopping “phantom” energy drain.
- Change your bulbs. Believe it or not, one of the least expensive but most effective ways to cut energy costs is to switch out your incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescent bulbs, or CFLs. The bulbs use fewer watts to give the same light, and since they last about 10 times longer than non-CFLs, you won’t have to change them nearly as often! For more information about switching to energy efficient bulbs, go to bulbs.com.