DIY Home Energy Savings
For a long time, people around the world have searched for viable ways of completing tasks but while using less energy as a means of saving money. With the cost of energy at an all-time high and income levels remaining the same, paying monthly utility bills can be a real problem. In addition to this challenge is the issue of not knowing which of the many published energy saving tips are real, and which tips are “urban legends.” To sort things out, we have gathered facts, making it easier for you to reduce energy consumption and therefore, save money.
One of the oldest pieces of information is that it costs more to turn a light, computer, or other electrical device on and off than it does just to leave it on. While there are a few electrical appliances, devices, and uses that have power surges where this rule might apply, the truth is the majority of things that run on electricity are less expensive if turned off when not in use. For instance, if you were in the kitchen, turned the light off, and then returned one minute later only to turn the light back on, you would be spending less money than if you had left it on.
When looking for ways to reduce energy consumption, few people give any thought to the way they cook. Sure, people may preheat the oven for a shorter amount of time, avoid opening the oven door to peak at food being cooked, or go with glass or ceramic cooking dishes over metal, the truth is that other options for cutting down on energy use exist. Because the price of energy is continually on the rise yet budgets keep getting tighter, people are looking for more innovative ways of saving money spent to utility companies.
One option that is often overlooked but actually a viable way of reducing energy consumption is by cooking smarter. As you go further into this article, you will see that this is possible and while savings are enjoyed over time rather than immediately, the money saved is worth the effort. In addition to reducing energy use and saving money, many of these tips will also make time spent in the kitchen more efficient and convenient.
The first suggestion is not only great for energy and finances but for busy households it is an amazing time-saver. Instead of cooking every night, take one day to prepare a full month’s worth of meals. Dedicating a single day allows you to have meals for 30 days, which is extremely convenient but it also offers great savings. For this, you would need to lay out menu items, create your shopping list, and then prep food. One way of saving is this would allow you to purchase food items in bulk, which is less expensive than buying smaller amounts.
By prepping food and then assembling dishes, when finished you would have a full 30-days of meals. Now, while some of the food items would be frozen uncooked, many could be cooked and then frozen or half frozen and then cooked completely on the day of serving. For food items you would cook fully or partially, the key is to stagger them in the oven using both top and bottom shelf. This would make it possible to cook several things at once while heat can flow inside the oven without restriction.
To show you how cooking multiple meals at once can actually cut the amount of energy used and money spent, consider meatloaf, an all-American menu item. The amount of heat in the oven it would take to cook one meatloaf would be the same if cooking four. Therefore, you might as well take full advantage of the heated oven and cook several dishes at once. The extra meatloaves would simply be wrapped in freezer paper, sealed in freezer bags, labeled, and frozen until ready to enjoy.
The number of meal options that could be cooked at once is staggering. Whether cooking pans of enchiladas, lasagna, casseroles, breads, pies, etc, using the space in the oven is a more efficient way to cook. Just remember that as a part of the savings, you want to follow a few simple steps. For instance, while you could place foil in the bottom of the oven to catch drips and spills, never cover the racks in that this restricts airflow, cost you more instead of saving.
Another story that has circulated for years is that it is less expensive to keep the air conditioning thermostat set at 76 degrees while at work all day so the house stays relatively cool than it would be to set the thermostat at 85 while gone, but then turn it down to cool the house after arriving home. The truth to this is that allowing the air conditioning to run all day is going to cost more than keeping it warmer but then cooling it down once you get home.
Probably the one thing that people want clarification on most is whether keeping appliances and various electrical devices plugged in but turned off costs anything or costs more than unplugging them. The answer to this is two-fold. First, some electrical devices would still cost you money if left plugged in but turned off. Second, the amount of power that most things draw is so small that whether you leave them plugged in and turned off or you unplug them would not really matter. Therefore, kitchen appliances such as the toaster and can opener could be left plugged in but turned off.
Now, while the above mentioned electrical devices only draw between one and five watts when plugged in and turned off, other devices draw five watts or more such as microwave ovens, DVD players, VCRs, etc. The problem is that by unplugging many of these things would mean when plugged back in, they would go through a setup phase, or the clock would have to be reset. Obviously, this would be a hassle, which is why most people choose to leave the electrical devices that draw the most wattage off but still plugged into the electrical outlet.
Yet another story that people have heard is that leaving a computer on while sleeping or away uses no more energy than putting the computer in sleep mode when not in use. In truth, putting the computer in sleep mode reduces the amount of electricity being drawn so it would be a cost-saving decision. In addition to this, buying appliances and various electrical devices that offer standby mode would also be a means of reducing energy consumption, which equates to paying less money each month on utility bills.
Finally, one of the newer stories is that people can purchase a special device that plugs into the wall outlet and somehow through its technology, as much as 15% savings is achieved. While this sounds incredible, people want to know if the story is myth or truth. Okay, the truth is that there is no such device capable of doing this and if you were to find one being advertised do not waste your money buying it because it is nothing more than hype.
One of the best ways to reduce energy consumption and save money is to purchase Energy Star appliances, run the dishwasher and washing machine at night, consider alternative power sources, and be smart about setting the thermostat, and turning lights and other electrical devices off when not in use.