Reduce Your Energy Consumption

 
 
Photo by Daniel Seiffert / WWF-Germany

Photo by Daniel Seiffert / WWF-Germany

On Saturday, March 24th the World Wildlife Foundation ran a campaign called Earth Hour. It was at 8:30pm at your local time where they asked you to turn off your lights and use no energy for the duration of the hour. This was to bring people together and to raise awareness for the immense amount of energy we use on a daily basis. They urged people to share pictures, stories, and places that they care about preserving and make a promise to live a greener lifestyle.

This campaign had millions of people sitting in darkness, reflecting on their favorite places in nature and making pledges to it. It even had massive cities turning off lights on major buildings and structures such as the famous Opera House in Sydney, Australia, the Colosseum in Rome, Italy and the Taipei 101 Tower in Taipei, Taiwan. It was incredible seeing people and communities from all around the world coming together to connect to the Earth.

 

The Earth Hour brought lots of questions of the simplest ways to reduce your energy consumption. Here are a few ways that you can make a difference easily and save money on your energy bill:


Unplug and Turn Off

One of the simplest ways for you to utilize less energy, is to turn off or unplug any electronics when not in use. Laptops can be shut down, lights can be switched off, toasters can be unplugged, the list goes on. Try not to leave chargers plugged in overnight or when there is nothing charging in them. Although, they may not be pulling any energy directly, whenever something is plugged into an outlet, it is still pulling residual energy.

However, with items such as TVs or lamps, it is simply not efficient to unplug it every time and wait for it to reboot. Just make sure you are turning them completely off when not in use and you will save lots of energy.
 

Wash Cold, Air Dry

It takes an immense amount of energy to heat up the water for your washing machine and the air for your dryer. Simply switch your washing machine to the cold water setting to not only save energy, but save your clothing too. The hot setting can actually burn your clothing! 

Photo by Jason Briscoe

Photo by Jason Briscoe

Also, hang dry whatever you can. Two inexpensive, common practice are drying racks or clothes lines. I have seen a great difference in the lifespan of my clothing since switching to this!

This goes for dishwashers too! Turn off your heated dry and let those dishes air dry.

 

Set the Mood, Switch to LED, and Use Power Strips

Installing dimmer switches, switching your bulbs to LED, and using powerstrips for multiple items will decrease your energy consumption by a ton! LED light bulbs alone can decrease your energy consumption by 80%! It is a simple switch to bring your consumption down.

By installing a dimmer switch allows you to choose when to pull less energy. A dimmer switch is a simple alternative to an on-off switch that allows you to easily dim the lights. Your lights do not always have to be completely on, dim them a bit once you are getting ready to go to bed or watching a movie. It will also make you sleep better and consume less energy!

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Lastly, Smart Power Strips. Power strips allow you to plug multiple items into one outlet.  Lots of items use “phantom energy” when off-- according to Energy Sage, 75% of your consumption is actually pulled when your items are off. The power strip itself acts as a blocker for this “phantom energy”-- cutting off the energy from being used. Thus reducing your consumption by an estimated 75%! I use these for behind my television, with electronics, and with multiple lamps. These are all areas where there are multiple items to be plugged in at once. Instead of having to have that many outlets, I plug the strip into one outlet and plug all of my items into the power strip. 

 
 
 

Open Windows and Let in The Natural Light

Turning off my air conditioning and opening my windows at night in the summer, spring and fall is my favorite way to sleep. It allows for toxins to escape, cool air to come in, and the sound of birds to wake me up in the morning. It’s the perfect combination.

Additionally, keep the blinds off your windows! By not having blinds, the natural light comes in the room much easier and brighter. This allows you to need to turn on less lights throughout the day! Let the sun do its job not electricity.

Photo by John-Mark Smith

Photo by John-Mark Smith

 
 


Be an Energy Star

Energy Star is a certification given to appliances, houses, and commercial buildings that meet certain qualifications of energy efficiency. Certain products and goods that hold this certifications are held worldwide however, it is just becoming known by the Environmental Protection Agencies in areas such as the European Union, Japan, Switzerland, and Taiwan. This certification allows you to know the products or place you are visiting is made or operated with a sustainable focus.

By investing in Energy Star rated products or companies, you can ensure you are investing in a company that cares. The qualifications that they have to pass to obtain the certification are rigorous and strict. This means that you are buying a quality product or supporting a quality company.

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It is very common in America for companies and homes to have this certification. My house is certified! Some of the things that we had to ensure we had was a gas fireplace (as opposed to an alternative), Energy Star rated appliances and leak proof windows and doors. This allows my house to be added to this list of Energy Star rated buildings and save lots of money on our monthly energy bill.

Get a head of the game in your area or country and try to implement some of their practices! Here is a link to their website to check out how you can become and Energy Star.

 

Go Solar Powered

For those of you ambitious readers who are looking to make the biggest impact possible, change your energy source to a renewable source of energy! The majority of cities worldwide are not powered by renewable sources, they are powered from coal, oil, or natural gas. You can install solar panels to your house or establishments to allow you to choose where your energy is coming from. These sources of energy are clean, sustainable, and awesome ways to lower your impact. You can even choose to have all that you can pull from a solar panel and then fall back on the city electricity if your panels do not make enough power for your establishment. Every little bit of sunlight helps!

Solar panels are easy to install and can be portable! However, you do need to be aware of the amount of sunlight that your house, lot, or parking spot (for those of you lucky enough to be living the van-life) gets throughout the day. A solar panel simply takes rays from sun, runs it through high-technology panels, and into a battery pack. Installation and application may take some research but it is a fun, energy saving saving project that will save you lots of money!

Photo by Scott Webb

Photo by Scott Webb

 

These are just a few ways for you to start lowering your energy consumption. Not only will these help your impact on the Earth, they will help save you money as well. Start with one of the above strategies, see how you feel, notice the changes you are making. Realize that every small action adds up to a bigger difference.

 
 
 

WORDS & PHOTOS By MADI GIORDANO