During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been spending a lot more time cooped up inside. This has resulted in higher spending on gas and electricity, particularly during the height of lockdown.
With small pockets across the country being asked to return to their homes again, now is as good a time as any to begin prepping for any future quarantine periods. Check out our useful COVID-specific energy-saving advice to learn how to keep your bills down.
Let’s all do our part to help our neighbors and our communities. There’s so much we can do. Let’s start at home. Look around and see how we can save money by conserving energy. When you’re ready, ‘Let Myke Help You With Your HOMEwork! Brazos County Realty is in the same place located at 13464 I and Gn Rd, College Station, TX 77845. Our website is www.CollegeStationHomes.com or www.AggieRealEstate.com We’ve been helping people come and go from the Brazos and surrounding counties and invest for their future for 24 years now, and we’re pretty good at it! We sincerely thank you for letting us be a part of your lives and we wish y’all the best through these trying times. Here’s some information to help you save some money at home. Call anytime if you need me.
1. Use a smart power strip
Did you know, the average household is said to waste as many as 7,374 hours of electricity every year when a device is left on standby?
Stuck at home, we’re bound to be using our electronic devices more often. Whether that’s while you work, or just because you’re binging the latest Netflix hit. It’s natural to leave the likes of laptops, phones, televisions, routers and even printers turned on in the background. An A&M engineer once said that appliances plugged into the wall still suck energy even when not in use, so ‘Unplug It’ According to my experience, most electrical devices use electricity even if they are switched off – also known as “phantom” load. If you’re not going to unplug the toaster and blender for example, instead, use a Single Port Adapter for the Outlet with an On/Off Switch.
A smart power strip is the perfect way to combat these lost minutes. This device lets you choose what you want to keep on or turn off at any given time. That means you can easily prioritise what you do and don’t want to keep running.
2. Try to structure your day
Setting a schedule for your day may not feel like it will have much of an impact on your energy consumption, but you might be surprised. It’s easy to work longer hours than normal when working from home. Setting a time when you turn all your devices off won’t just be good for your work-life balance, but will help you cut down on energy too.
If you’re struggling to work out how you can manage your own time, consider:
- Setting up a separate workspace that’s away from everything else in your house
- Creating a specific hour-by-hour routine, giving you time without devices
- Making your schedule clear to the rest of your household, so they know not to disturb you at certain times
3. Set streaming guidelines
Streaming is a great way to wind down, but it can be easy to lose track of time. This won’t only affect your energy bills, but can also make your internet slower – not exactly what you need when you’re trying to chat to work colleagues.
This is especially difficult if you’re part of a larger household. Setting a few rules is a great way to keep on top of your screen-time, while lowering costs.
Looking for more tips to slash your energy use on streaming? Here some other ways you could cut back costs:
- Use low-powered devices. Instead of streaming a show on your television, consider watching it on a more energy efficient device like a laptop or tablet.
- Change screen settings. You can turn down the brightness and volume of your device to save on power. Streaming at a lower resolution will also help, though this may affect your viewing experience.
4. Be smart with your radiators
As the weather gets cooler, you might be tempted to keep your heating running through the day. However, this could make a huge difference to your energy usage.
If you’re feeling the chill, why not try heating only the rooms being worked in? Simply turn the off the valves on all the radiators in unused rooms. That way, you can beat the chill with minimum impact to your bills.
5. Try to make the most of natural light
If you’re spending more time working from home, it’s likely you’ll have the lights switched on more than usual. But you don’t always need electricity to get the best lighting.
Make the most of natural light in your home by setting up your office in the room that gets the most daylight. Open the blinds and curtains and let the sunshine in. You’d be surprised how quickly your eyes can adjust to natural light, even if it seems a bit dim at first.
Also be sure to turn off the lights in any rooms which you aren’t using. Daylight is free, after all.
Consider adding a solar tube
Sun tubes bring natural light into your home in ways artificial light sources cannot and can be added anywhere there is 6 meters or less between your ceiling and your roof.
As the seasons change, the tube captures daylight and efficiently illuminates indoor spaces. Solar tubes are amazing in underlit spaces and especially interior rooms without windows. there are a lot of different solar tube companies out there and they are relatively easy to install. (One of the best investments I’ve made…love mine. ‘Myke’)
6. Swap to energy-saving bulbs
If you do have to turn the lights on, particularly after the clocks go back, make sure you’re using energy-saving bulbs. Both Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are more efficient than halogen lights with LEDs being the most efficient of all. Replacing a halogen light bulb with an LED of the same brightness could save you up to $1.25/month per bulb, depending on your utility company. Count the bulbs in your house. That really adds up over time.
You may not want to replace all your bulbs at the same time, particularly as they now last so much longer. So why not swap the bulbs in the rooms that you spend the most time in first – whether that’s because you’re working from home or because you’re not out and about so much in the evenings – and replace the others as they wear out.
And remember, just flicking off the light switch every time you leave a room is an easy money saver.
7. Use timers and dimmers
Using timer and dimmer devices will have a positive effect not only during lockdown, but once the pandemic is over. You can set these devices to sync up with your lights and other electronics, allowing them to turn off automatically.
8. Use a laptop at home
Working from home has become the norm for a lot of people during lockdown. If this is you, you’re probably using either a laptop or desktop during that time – though you should know, one is a lot more efficient than the other.
Your laptop will use just 75 kWh per year, while a desktop can eat up as much as 194 kWh. What’s more, using a laptop will also give you the freedom to work wherever you want in the house.
But while you’re spending even more time at home it’s important not to forget the simple basics.
Basic energy-saving tips
Simple fixes to your daily habits can have a huge impact on the amount you save on energy every year, even once the pandemic is over. Keep reading to discover some easy changes you can make to save on your next bill.
1. Don’t boil water in a pan
It might seem logical to boil water in the same pan you’re going to use for cooking. And while it might feel like you’re being cost-effective, the opposite is actually true. The average kettle is about 80% efficient, while boiling water on the stovetop is only 70%. Plus, the kettle is also a much quicker way to get your water bubbling. How many times have you boiled water in a pot, then walked away and layed down to take a nap and forgotten about it? By the time you remember it’s because the smoke detector has gone off and if you don’t catch it, you could burn the house down! It’s not just a waste of energy, it’s dangerous. The smell seams to stay in the walls for ever! Use a kettle that whistles when it comes to a boil to avoid mistakes like that.
2. Opt for a shower, not a bath
According to the Energy Saving Trust, if everyone in a family of four swapped one bath a week for a five-minute shower, it could save up to $24 a year on their gas bill. Consider changing your shower head to an eco-version, too. If you do, a family of four can save around $99.00 a year on gas (and $152 on water if they have a meter).
3. Wash everything at 150 Degrees
Today’s washing detergents are very effective at 30 degrees, so try to avoid washing laundry on a higher setting. Wait until you have a full load too – that saves on water as well as energy. Just make sure you aren’t going to have any colours which run or fabrics which get damaged. Use an eco-wash setting if you can, as this will save on your bills in the long term. If someone in your home has contracted coronavirus you may want to wash their towels, bedlinen and so on separately from the rest of your washing, at 60 degrees. You should also avoid shaking these clothes before you put them in the machine.
4. Use a line to dry
This isn’t something you see that often anymore. It goes without saying that using the natural power of the elements will have a big impact on cutting costs. Tumble dryers use up a lot of energy, so try to avoid them as much as you can. Did you know that your clothes will last longer and hold their shape better if you hang them to dry instead of throwing them in the dryer? It’s true. Everytime you pull lint out of the dryer, that’s your clothes wearing out! Your clothes won’t ball up if you hang them up to dry. When you pay a lot of money for a garment…if you must…let it spin in the dryer first than hang damp, but hang it up to dry. Drip dry is the best in the shower.
5. Take control of your heating
The Energy Saving Trust suggests that turning down your thermostat by just one degree could save around $75 per year. Why not give it a go and see how much you save?
Also, check whether heat could be leaving your home through gaps. Thick curtains, draught excluders, and even a piece of putty in a small gap around a window will help keep the heat in. And it goes without saying – don’t leave windows and doors open if it’s not warmer outside than in. If you can see daylight anywhere around any of your doors, you’re paying too much on your utilities! You’re losing heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. You need a little self adhesive weather stripping. Don’t procrastinate. You can purchase it on Amazon and have it tomorrow. It just takes a minute to install and it will save you money.
6. Optimise your fridge space
If your fridge gets dusty in the back it can struggle to function at full capacity. Make sure to regularly pull it out and clean off the coils with a vacuum to optimise its performance.
Putting warm food in the freezer is another big nono. It takes a lot more energy for your freezer to retain its temperature when you stack it with food that’s still warm. Let your leftovers cool before you stash them away.
7. Use your head while you wash things
Don’t wash things up under a running tap. Fill the sink with as much as is required for the level of washing you have. If it’s just a few plates and cups, a third to a half of the sink is all that’s required. You could also avoid running excess water for rinsing. Wait till your finished washing than rinse all at once.
Using a dishwasher? Put it on a timer and turn it on some time in the middle of the night when it’s not peak usage in the city. Better yet, if there’s just a few things, wash it by hand.
8. Monitor your energy use
Energy companies tend to use local data to estimate how much gas and electricity you’re using. While these are often close to reality, it’s impossible for them to be completely right every time.
By checking your own meters on a monthly basis, you’ll be able to make sure you only pay for the energy that you’re actually using.
If you don’t already have a smart meter, it might be worth investing in one. These cut out the middle man, ensuring you get an accurate reading throughout the year without having to check yourself.
9. Manage your energy smarter
Smart thermostats such as Nest and Hive, give you maximum flexibility when it comes to managing your heating. You can even control your heating when you’re out, using your smartphone, tablet or laptop. They turn themselves down automatically when there’s no movement in the house and back up again when people are active. At night they can be programed to your perfect temperature. You are in control.
Smart appliances, lights and plugs can also be programmed to switch off at particular times or when you leave the house, saving you money.
10. Make long-term investments
If you’re not planning to move in the near future, it may be worth looking at more long-term energy-saving solutions. Solar panels could be cost effective for you in the long run.
You might save a considerable amount on your electricity bill each year, and more by earning money for energy you generate then sell back to the grid. Re-insulating your home is another good investment, as is replacing your heater if it’s getting old. Did you know that on an older home you can blow additional insulation into your attic and Lowes will give you the machine for FREE with a 10 bag minimum. It usually takes 2 people. One person on the ground and one person in the attic with the hose. It’s a relatively simple process. Click the link to see how to add your own insulation to your attic. Cooler months are perfect in Texas for adding to the R-Factor to lower your utility bills. If you live in an older home, chances are your attic insulation has compacted and isn’t as effective as it used to be. Just blow in a little bit more fluffy insulation to lower your utility bills. It just takes a few hours.
When you replace your household appliances make sure you choose the most energy efficient ones. See which appliances are the most expensive to run.
11. Compare energy suppliers
Hopefully, some of our energy-saving tips will make a difference in your home. But don’t sit back and accept what you’re paying for your energy, especially if your supplier has recently increased their prices. Just dig out your latest energy bill, start a quote with us and we’ll tell you if you could save by switching to another provider. And if clean energy matters to you, you can even see which suppliers have green energy credentials.
From the Energy team