How to Drastically Reduce Your Energy Usage Through Unconventional Means

How to Drastically Reduce Your Energy Usage Through Unconventional Means

Reducing your energy usage can help save you money, benefit the environment, and free you from reliance on large energy corporations. Most advice focuses on obvious tactics like installing energy efficient lightbulbs, but there are also many unconventional and creative strategies that can lead to even more drastic reductions in energy consumption. This comprehensive guide will explore these outside-the-box methods so you can significantly cut your energy use.

Conduct an Energy Audit to Find the Biggest Areas of Waste

Before making any changes, it’s important to understand exactly where and how you are wasting energy. Performing a thorough energy audit of your home allows you to identify the systems, appliances, and behaviors that are consuming the most electricity and natural gas so you can target your efforts for maximum impact.

Here are some tips for conducting your own audit:

  • Examine your utility bills and make note of your total energy usage over time and during different seasons. This shows what areas need the most improvement.

  • Check insulation levels in walls, attics, basements, etc. Missing or damaged insulation leads to wasted heating and cooling energy.

  • Inspect all appliances, especially older refrigerators, washing machines, and cooking appliances which tend to use more energy. Replace inefficient appliances.

  • Look for air leaks around doors and windows which can waste a surprising amount of energy. Seal leaks with caulk and weather-stripping.

  • Take an infrared camera and look for hot or cold spots on walls and ceilings indicating insulation gaps. Prioritize fixes here first.

  • Consider an electric meter that shows real-time usage. Identifying when energy spikes happen allows you to adjust behaviors.

Unplug Appliances and Electronics When Not in Use

Many appliances and electronic devices draw power even when switched off or not in active use. These “vampire” energy losses can add up to hundreds of dollars per year. Try these tips:

  • Unplug chargers when not charging devices. Chargers for phones, laptops, etc still pull power when plugged in.

  • Use power strips for electronics and turn off the switch when not in use. Computer peripherals and TVs/DVD players draw standby power.

  • Unplug small kitchen appliances like coffee makers when not using them daily. They use energy just sitting there.

  • Eliminate “always on” devices like cable boxes which run 24/7. Stream content on-demand instead.

  • Check for unused old appliances like extra mini-fridges and unplug them.

Getting in the habit of manually unplugging devices takes some extra effort but can reduce wasted standby power by 10% or more.

Take Advantage of Natural Heating and Cooling

Heating and cooling accounts for a large chunk of home energy bills. You can drastically slash this usage by turning off your HVAC systems and leveraging natural sunlight, ventilation, and insulation. Some ideas:

  • Open southern-facing curtains on sunny winter days to harness solar warmth. Close them at night for insulation.

  • Use ceiling and portable fans to circulate air in summer instead of air conditioning. A fan uses 90% less energy.

  • Cook outdoors on a grill to avoid heating up your house with appliances and ovens in summer.

  • Keep windows closed and use blinds effectively. Block sun in summer, let it in during winter.

  • Seal off unused rooms and close vents in them. Heat or cool only the rooms you use most.

  • Set your thermostat a few degrees warmer in summer or cooler in winter. Drape a light blanket on the couch.

  • Let sunlight and breezes in but close up the house during hot mid-days and cool nights.

With smart use of natural energy flows in and out of your home, you can dramatically reduce the need for heating and cooling appliances.

Shift Daily Habits to Use Less Energy Intensively

Many people run energy-intensive systems like appliances and lights out of habit without considering alternatives. But shifting how and when you use electricity can have a big impact.

  • Run full loads of dishes and laundry to maximize each use instead of many small loads.

  • Cook multiple meals at once and freeze portions to avoid repeated oven/stove use.

  • Grill, microwave, or use a crockpot for cooking instead of the stove. Use lids to retain heat.

  • Turn off lights when leaving a room for more than 5 minutes. Rely on natural light whenever possible.

  • Take cooler showers lasting just 5 minutes or less. Limit shower frequency for even more savings.

  • Unplug the second refrigerator/freezer if seldom used. Consolidate items into one unit.

  • Soak dishes before washing. Scrape rather than fully rinse. Let air dry instead of using heated dry cycles.

  • Run ceiling fans on medium rather than high. Fans use significantly more energy as speed increases.

Adopting more efficient practices around cooking, cleaning, lighting, and appliances saves energy without major lifestyle changes.

Conclusion

The energy usage in a typical home has plenty of room for improvement using unconventional solutions. Performing an audit, being rigorous about eliminating standby power drains, leveraging natural energy flows, and optimizing usage habits can together reduce your electricity and heating bills by 50% or more. Benefits go beyond cost savings too – reducing energy consumption also decreases your environmental impact and reliance on utilities. Get creative in assessing your unique home energy situation and building new habits that minimize waste. Every little bit toward energy efficiency counts.