Here are some home energy saving tips which (if you follow them!) should save you money and make your household quite a bit greener too.
This collection of home energy saving tips includes information on lowering your electricity needs, both inside and outside the house and information about some household energy saving devices. The tips on this page mainly relate to lighting.
The devil, as always is in the detail. As householders it is up to us to select what we can do practically. Some energy saving tips require a fair amount of vigilance by the householder in order to be effective. Fortunately, there are more and more useful gadgets which can help us to a leaner and greener energy profile.
I hope that by offering these energy savings tips collected together in one place on Greenfootsteps.com, you will find ideas which best suit your circumstances.
Many electrical devices and gadgets are set up to keep a small light burning to show that they are on or on stand-by. These small lights are thought to be responsible for up to a tenth of domestic power needs here in Britain. This seems an incredible amount of power to be generated just for appliances to say "Hey, I'm on"!
This kind of energy use is also known as "vampire" power for obvious reasons!
Britons are possibly wasting around one million tonnes of carbon a year on from idle machines left on stand by. The University of Strathclyde has shown that each household in Britain loses around 525 KW of energy to these devices each year. That's more than £50 per year per household at 2008 prices. It's also a carbon dioxide burden that the atmosphere could well do without.
Even if you take a conservative estimate that each of 22 million households only has one device left on standby for most of the day, this would add up to around 220,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. Many households have several devices - TVs, digital recorders, CD players etc - on standby for hours at a time. See www.carbonfootprint.com/ for details of what typical devices cost to run in terms of energy and carbon emissions.
One US study concluded that the energy needed just to power electrical devices on stand by alone would need the entire output of eighteen power stations!
If you are buying new electric gadgets, try to buy ones that either don't have these almost useless lights, or if you cannot bring yourself to do that, (or cannot find alternatives, which, unfortunately, is often difficult at present) then at least make sure that most of them are switched off at night - or whenever you are not using them for a few hours.
Switching off electrical devices on stand by can quite quickly become part of the closing down the house at night routine. It only takes a few moments to run around switching off all the inessential power sockets. And it should save you noticeable amounts of cash too when the electricity bill plops onto the mat.
Better still, keep devices switched off entirely until they are needed.
There are now home energy saving devices available which allow you to switch off many machines which are on standby at the click of one button. These remote control devices may be an option which is worth considering if you live in a home with loads of electrical appliances. I've not tried these yet. The Bye Bye Standby BBSBUSA Energy Saving Kit has had rave reviews and allows you to keep selected devices running - so you can still record a TV programme, for example. You can even keep the remote by your bed and switch off from there!
The power strip smart switching devices from Smart Strip also look to be a good deal. Check out which of your appliances are suitable for sudden switch offs - or for best results, switch the devices off before activating the smart switch to stop them being on stand-by. The device includes a couple of sockets for products which you don't want to switch off - DVD players with timing devices, for example.
Now that global warming and climate chaos are becoming more widely recognised as facts there are plans to limit stand-by on appliances. In the future these devices may well switch themselves off after a set time. In the meantime, we need to do the necessary, and switch them off whenever possible.
So that's the first of these energy saving tips: switch off wherever possible and whenever possible.
Turning lights off is a good habit to develop, especially if you can get the offspring to co-operate! I used to come home sometimes to a house blazing with light as people moved though it, leaving lights on behind them as they went.
Things are rather better now, though far from perfect.
It's definitely a good idea to implant this idea in your kids' minds at a very early age if you can.
Teenagers are generally a lot harder to re-educate than small children, so it's probably well worth trying to get your kids switching off lights on auto-pilot while they are still little.
Even with low-energy light bulbs it is generally worth switching off when you leave the room, unless it's just for a moment.
Picture above: low energy CFL light bulbs can now look almost like incandescent bulbs. I took the photo in 2008 and the same bulb is still with us in 2013.
Low energy bulbs should save your household money over the year. The amount of energy saved is considerable; 80% or more. CFLs (compact fluorescent tubes) are the main type available for household use. LEDs are also useful in some locations such as stair treads and mood lighting. As designs improve LEDs are gradually transforming the appearance of homes and cities.
CFLs are coming down in price now and you can often buy bulk packs which are cheaper still. You can buy starter packs from Amazon which are good value. You need to pay a little more if you want a good pure white light. Here, in Britain the government is subsidising CFLs at the moment. Standard incandescent bulbs are being phased out across the EU. (A few householders were incandescent with rage when the changes came in throughout Britain and even went so far as to stockpile bulbs.)
Consumer studies show there is some dissatisfaction with CFLs. Truth is, many companies compromise on quality in order to get prices down - with the result that CFL bulbs do not always last as long as they should and the light quality can be poor. Look for quality bulbs from reliable manufacturers - and complain if the bulbs you buy do not meet expectations.
The range of lights available and the colour of the light emitted has been improving steadily.
Disconnect mobile phone chargers and other transformers when they are not actually being used.
A good many of these devices leach energy from the grid even when they are doing nothing for your needs. You can actually tell this by the fact that they feel warm. Many of these transformers are far worse than simple standby lights.
The energy they use compared to a computer, say, may not be much. But it's very easy to inadvertently leave them on for hours and hours. This does nothing good for your energy bills and when you consider all the millions of people who now have phone chargers, camera chargers, iPod chargers, digital radio transformers, etc, it does no good for our planet either!
Digital radio transformers actually use more power when they are not powering the radio than when they are. This is because they have a high internal resistance - which explains why they get so warm when left in the plug socket.
Leaving mobile phone chargers and other devices which contain transformers may even add further to your electricity bill. If you have air conditioning and you leave phone chargers on in summer they may also add a little to your AC costs.
If you use an outdoor light regularly, have a sensor light installed and set it to stay on for only a shortish period for lighting your comings and goings. You can always wave your arms about to re-activate it!
If it is mainly for security lighting it is actually quite a good idea to have it on only fairly briefly - it will make it hard for any potential intruder to see when it goes out. (Meanwhile, you are in a position to switch off your indoor lights and peer out to see what's going on.)
Outdoor lights left on can have a big impact on your electric bills - and on your carbon emissions. It is now possible to buy low energy outdoor lights (CFLs) and LEDs which are far more eco-friendly than halogen bulbs or incandescent ones.
Outdoor lights which are triggered by every passing cat are always going to be using some unnecessary energy. More permanent outdoor lights can also be responsible for a lot of electricity usage. Think carefully about your needs. Do you really need your house lit up like a Christmas tree every night of the year?
If you think permanent outdoor lighting is essential, do investigate low-impact solutions, especially solar and LED lighting which are among the cheapest options as well as the most eco-friendly.
Solar powered lights for the garden are now widely available and no longer expensive. The light they emit is dim and depends upon there being a bit of reasonable light during the daytime, so they are less good in dull weather and in winter when light levels are low. The light given out is generally quite OK for picking out a well marked path.
Many of the cheap solar power garden lights sold in garden centres and supermarkets do not do such a great job. You will get better performance and longevity from some of the more expensive brands.
You can now buy rechargeable torches with dynamos instead of batteries. You just press a lever or wind them up to generate light. These are quite easy to use and effective. Some of the cheaper brands can fail due to faulty wind-up mechanisms and on/off switches.
Many torches are now available which use LEDs. The bulbs often last up to 1000 hours and some quite powerful ones are now available. Many other types of torch with re-chargeable batteries are available for prolonged outdoor use. If you are with a green energy supplier, then these are relatively eco-friendly.
Solar powered lights are also available for camping or garden use. See the right hand panel for a good example from Off-grid Solutions at Amazon.
Then there's storm lanterns, which have a quite romantic appeal. Children enjoy lighting them and taking them through the garden as they cast such great shadows. The technology is tried and true but clearly these devices are potentially more hazardous.
You can also use old fashioned tricks like painting some largish stones white to mark out a path (or using naturally white stone such as marble or chalkstone). It has to be a very dark night for a combination of these techniques not to work.
For outdoor parties, candles inside cut-down plastic bottles can look lovely and provide a cheap and cheerful solution for one-off use.
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Home energy saving tips - Copyright Greenfootsteps.com 2008
Please do not copy without permission except for personal and family use.
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