Why is energy conservation important? First, energy – even solar energy – is not free, so conserving energy translates into saving money. In tough economic times like these, cutting expenses can be the difference between living within a budget or going bankrupt.
Additionally, energy conservation leads to a cleaner, healthier environment, which means we fulfill our obligation as good stewards of the Earth and its resources. Finally, living an energy efficient lifestyle can lead to a better quality of life for you, your family, and mother Earth.
Here are 20 home energy savings solutions you might not have considered using that could reduce your energy bill and save you money on cooking and doing your laundry.
10 Ways to Save Energy Fixing Meals
1. Cold Meals Monday
You’ve probably heard of meatless Mondays but how about Cold Meals Monday? Every Monday, our family eats three cold meals as one of our energy saving ideas for home.
Breakfast might be hard-boiled eggs (prepared the night before), assorted cereals, fresh fruits like bananas, strawberries or blueberries, and beverages such as freshly squeezed orange or grapefruit juice. We own an old-fashioned juice extractor, which is hand operated, and fortunately, our son loves to extract the juice.
Lunch and dinner consists of main dishes which can be served cold such as ham, tuna or oriental chicken salad, meatloaf or pasta dishes, or even cold soups like gazpacho or vichyssoise and salads. These are served with a variety of artisan breads, lots of fresh crudités, and more fresh fruit.
For variety, we might also do a make-your-own sandwich night with assorted breads, organic lunch meats and cheeses, and sandwich fixings like lettuce or greens, sliced red onions and tomatoes.
2. Match Cookware and Foods
Using a toaster oven can be more energy efficient than using the oven depending on the food. For example, if you want just a few pieces of garlic bread to complement spaghetti and salad, it’s cheaper to fix it in the toaster oven. Crockpots and specialized appliances like rice cookers are other good energy saving devices to consider.
Cook small quantities – one grilled sandwich or one egg in small pans – and larger quantities in larger pans. Ideally, the food should fill the bottom of the pan without being overcrowded.
3. Replace Cookware When Necessary
It takes more energy to cook in a warped pan than it does to cook in one with a flat-bottom, especially if you have an electric stove, so replace those warped pots and skillets to boost your energy efficiency and save money.
4. Evaluate the Benefits of Microwaving Meals
According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), you can reduce your energy consumption by two-thirds by microwaving meals instead of using the oven. Why? Because the food cooking time is drastically reduced. If microwaving foods doesn’t appeal to you, convection ovens and halogen ovens are other energy-efficient options.
5. Cook Once, Eat Twice (or More)
This is my favorite tip because I really hate to cook but my family really, really loves to eat. To solve this dilemma, I prepare double (or triple) batches of food and freeze the extra portions for later use. After all, it’s just as easy to make three meatloaves as it is to make one, and you only have to clean up once.
6. Use Glass or Ceramic Cookware
I love my glass cookware and buy up every piece I can find at tag sales and thrift stores, but I never realized I was also helping to reduce our energy bill. According to the ACEEE, these types of cookware uses less energy because they are highly conductive materials and cook the foods faster at lower temperatures.
Tip: You can lower the recommended oven temperature for a recipe by 25 degrees Fahrenheit when cooking in glass or ceramic cookware.
7. Cover or Consolidate Pots
Covering pots prevents heat loss and the food cooks faster. Combining foods into one pot allows you to cook more efficiently and save energy. Try this simple one-pot meal recipe on your family soon as part of your energy savings strategy.
8. Grill, Baby, Grill
We are fortunate to live in a temperate area so we can grill almost year round. In fact, we have been known to bundle up in jackets and grill during snowstorms! Using a grill saves electricity; however, you are still consuming some type of energy – propane, charcoal or an alternative – so it may or may not be as cost effective as you wish.
9. Use Your Dishwasher Judiciously
If possible, load the dishwasher throughout the day and run it at night when electricity costs are lower. Consider air drying the dishes after the wash/rinse cycle, which saves about three percent on overall energy consumption according to Green American.
10. Disconnect Your Energy Vampires
The technical term for energy vampires is “phantom loads,” which refers to appliances that continue to suck up energy even when not in use. Unplugging items like the coffeemaker, toaster and toaster oven, and even the under-the-cabinet television, radio or music player can results in energy reduction and cost savings.
10 Ways to Conserve Energy Doing Laundry
You probably already know to run full loads in your washer and separate clothes for drying: dry heavy items like towels and lighter weight clothes like sheets together. However, did you know the following?
1. Almost all the energy – at least 90% – used to run a washing machine is used just to heat the water.
According to Energy Star, switching to cold water for washing clothes is one way of lowering your electric bill. Pre-soak heavily soiled items before washing for best results
2. Use less water for smaller loads.
According to Energy.Gov, using cold water and reducing the amount of water used are the two best ways to conserve energy when doing laundry. Most washing machines have a setting for small loads, which helps you in your quest to conserve energy and stop waste.
3. Buy and install a clothesline or use the one you already have.
Drying clothes on a clothesline is a good way to conserve energy and extend the life of your clothes because the dryer heat degrades the fabrics and causes them to wear out faster. Underwear that contains elastic or blends of elastic and spandex (think bras) are especially vulnerable to sustaining damage from the heat of a dryer so air drying them means you’ll have to replace them less often.
4. Use the max extract cycle on your washer (if it has one).
If not, check the clothes before you put them in the dryer to make sure the spin cycle removed as much of the moisture as possible. You might want to air dry heavy items like towels for an hour or so before finishing the drying process in the dryer.
5. Fill the washer to capacity but don’t overfill it.
When you overfill the washer, the load may become unbalanced and the spin cycle may not remove all the water from the clothes. You’ll waste water if you have to run another spin cycle to remove the excess water, and you’ll also waste water if you wash a small load rather than waiting until you have a full load.
6. Don’t worry about wrinkles.
Today’s new wrinkle free fabrics are pretty forgiving but if necessary, dry items in the dryer for about 10 minutes to remove wrinkles, and then finish them up by air drying them.
7. Use the features on your washer and dryer to help you manage your energy use.
For example, many newer models of dryers are equipped with sensors that shut the dryer off when the clothes are dry or a cool-down feature that uses the residual heat in the dryer to finish drying the load.
8. Clean the air filter on your dryer after every load.
A clogged air filter reduces the machine’s operating efficiency and is a fire hazard as well. In addition to cleaning it after each load, you may want to wash it and vacuum out the lint trap periodically to keep the dryer running at peak efficiency.
9. Buy energy efficient when replacing appliances.
If you are in the market for a new washer, dryer or both, shop and compare features on ENERGY STAR appliances, which save energy and money by consuming less water and electric than other brands, according to Energy.Gov.
10. Stop ironing clothes!
Most modern fabrics do not require ironing if handled properly during the laundry cycle. Read and follow the manufacturer’s care instructions on garments for best results.
For more information on the pros and cons of air drying your clothes to save money, you may want to read How Much Do You Really Save By Air Drying Your Clothes.
Bonus tip: Making your own laundry detergent can save energy (think of all those manufacturers who won’t have to run their manufacturing plants), and it definitely saves money. Here’s my recipe for homemade laundry detergent. You can make it in less than 10 minutes with just three cheap ingredients.
What are your favorite home energy solutions?
Fruits and vegetables by BeverlyLR under royalty free license via SXC
All other images copyright 2013 by Donna Cosmato, all rights reserved