Here are some more home energy saving tips and tricks to help you lower your carbon footprint - and save some money, too.
Home energy saving tips: Cooking and kitchenware
Gas cookers are still generally cheaper to run than electric cookers.
Electric grills are particularly power hungry.
The amount of gas used by gas cookers is less than it was thanks to electric ignition.
It is very difficult to compare cookers because there are so many makes, models and sizes available. Extra features such as fan-assisted ovens add to the complexity and the ways in which energy can be consumed.
Read on for ways to control your energy use, whether you cook with gas or electricity.
Ways to keep your energy use down when using the cooker
When you are using the oven cook more than one dish at a time whenever possible.
Saucepans are at their most efficient when they just cover the electric ring.
Use a lid whenever possible to cut down cooking times and don't be overgenerous with the water. (Cooking conservatively like this is better for your health too. In fact steaming is even better for your health but does take slightly longer than cooking in water.)
Vegetables cook more evenly and quickly when they are cut up finely. You can cut down cooking times considerably by chopping things into small pieces - as much as 60%. This is worth thinking about if you are steaming veg because you are not increasing the fat needed, nor are you losing vitamins, as you might if you were boiling them.
Microwaves are generally more efficient than electric cookers for the obvious reason that they generally cook things faster.
Things which need to cook in water - such as rice - do not necessarily cook faster in a microwave, though. After all, water still boils at 100 degrees, whichever method you use. (See pressure cookers below for a method which does change the boiling temperature of water!) Microwaves are also useful for reheating food and drinks efficiently.
Electric cookers take a long time to heat up and cool down - try to allow for this fact in your cooking timing. Some pans such as ceramics and cast iron also hold heat well. For example rice in a cast iron pan can be switched off before it is fully cooked and the retained heat will be enough to finish the job - if you time it right of course!
Pressure cookers are also good for saving energy. A good pressure cooker can save up to 2/3rds of cooking energy. These devices are really worth a look. Although they tend to be expensive to buy, they can last a lifetime if they are looked after well.
Stainless steel is best for pressure cookers. Aluminium is relatively cheap and it conducts heat quickly which makes aluminium pans good for heating things through quickly. However they do not retain heat well and the metal pits from some ingredients such as fruit acids. (And there is still a slight suspicion that the lifetime effects of small doses of aluminium might contribute to Alzheimer's disease in later life.)
So, if you can, stump up the money for a pressure cooker and enjoy cheaper and faster cooking from now on!
This is one of those energy saving tips that should quickly save you money on your fuel bill; a pressure cooker should have paid for itself after a very few months.
Home energy saving tips: Running the household machines
Energy saving tips: Running your household machines in an energy-efficient way
The washing machine should be run when it's full - but not stuffed to the hilt. Use low temperature washes where possible. Most modern machines are designed to run efficiently and effectively at low temperatures. You should save quite a lot on your energy bills over a year.
Again, it's worth trying to educate your teenagers to use low temperatures if they no longer trust the grown-ups to wash their fashionable kit! This can work if you emphasise that low temperatures are less likely to fade and distort their clothing.
More energy saving tips: Consider using washballs, too. You can use them for some washes on a speed wash setting (i.e. a short wash cycle).
Home energy saving tips:Dishwashers are also better run full. Obviously the number of washes performed is fewer if you load up fully each time. Dishwashers are increasingly efficient for water and energy use. If you can use low-phosphate washing gel or powder, you are reducing their other impacts upon the environment, too. You can open them up early to short cut the drying cycle if you don't really need it. Most dishes will dry in an hour or two if you open the dishwasher lid to let fresh air in.
Home energy saving tips:Fridges and Freezers are more efficient when cleaned and defrosted regularly. Also make sure that the seal around the edge stays in good shape. Check that the door closes properly each time it's used.
Anything that's hot that you want to store is best left to cool until it's around room temperature before you put it inside the fridge or the freezer.
Fridges are best kept not too full, as they are more efficient if the air can circulate properly around the interior. Freezers are more efficient if they are kept pretty full. Use some clean empty plastic bags to cover packs and fill in gaps (after all, there are still plenty of them needing re-using - and most of them do not re-cycle well.)
In both fridges and freezers the bottom is the place for things that really need keeping cold (because warm air rises).
If you are defrosting food for later, defrost it inside the fridge. That way you are using the chilliness of the product to reduce your cooling needs for the fridge. This energy saving tip will only work if you give your defrosting adequate time!
Home energy saving tips:Kettles are better run with the right amount of water for the job. There is no advantage in boiling more than you need - it only goes cold again.
Toasters are generally more efficient than grills (though I'm not convinced that it's worth buying one specially, when you take into account the energy and materials used to make it.)
Televisions and Computers: It's well worth switching these off between sessions. Both computers and TVs are relatively heavy consumers of energy, yet many people leave them on for hours when they are not in use. Leaving TVs on standby wastes more energy, too.
So, if you want just one energy saving tip to start: switch off computers and tellies when they're not being used. And unplug them, or switch off at the socket when they are not being used for a few hours.
Energy saving tips: saving energy when using air conditioning.
Air conditioning units are quite energy hungry.
Be sure to place the thermostat away from any sources of heat, such as PCs, TVs, cookers etc.
Grab that shade!
There are lots of ways we can use shade as part of home energy saving.
When installing central heating, put the heat exchange unit somewhere in the shade (if at all possible) as this will help the heat from it to be dispersed more effectively.
If the location of your heat exchanger is unshaded, think about planting shrubs or small trees nearby to produce shade. Be careful that trees are not close enough to disrupt the building's foundations - an expensive mistake!
Think about installing shading for your windows - blinds, shutters and curtains can all help reduce absorption of heat during the day. They can also help slow down heat loss at night, which is useful if evening temperatures are starting to dip.
Strategically placed trees and shrubs may also help to shade the sunny side of the house or apartment, so cutting down the heating of the building. Just as much of the heat loss of homes in cold weather is though windows, a lot of heat gain in summer also takes place through window glass. So it makes sense to shade your windows effectively if at all possible.
Reflective blinds or insulated window shades may be a worthwhile investment if you have large windows or windows exposed to a lot of sun. There are lots of thermal blinds are available at Amazon which help keep heat or cool in.
Energy saving tips for a cool house:
Strategic window opening
Open windows at strategic times. In hot weather there is usually some time during the 24 hours which is a little cooler in most climates. (Often at 4 in the morning!)
Try to cool the house down by letting in cooler air when the outside temperature falls below the inside temperature. Remember, because hot air rises, the most effective place to open windows may be the roof. Close them and shade them as soon as the outside temperature gets close to the inside temperature again.
More home energy saving tips
There are more home energy saving tips throughout the site. See Green Energy and Green Shift in particular.