Saving on Energy Costs
January 10th is National Cut Your Energy Costs Day. Gone are the days of cheap energy. And while we are nowhere near the prices of energy – especially gasoline – as they were a decade ago, it is still wise both for our budgets and for the environment to use energy wisely.
Some Simple Ways to Cut Costs
There are some very simple ways to cut energy costs.
Turn down the thermostat while not at home and during the night.
Most of us have electronic thermostats where we can set the temperature changes automatically. Mine allows 5 or 6 settings for each day. It even allows me to choose different settings for different days. I have it set for a colder temperature at night, then a higher temp for the first two hours I’m out of bed, then down to a daytime temperature setting. At dinnertime it goes up a degree, then another couple degrees for the colder evenings. But at 10 pm it drops drastically. To compensate, I have extra blankets on my bed. My bedroom is drafty even with new windows and insulation. If it’s windy, it can be 10°-15°F colder in there than the set temperature. I pile on even more blankets as needed.
Turn off the electricity to power stealing and power leaking devices.
Plug TVs, DVRs, and other electronic devices to power strips or wall switches. In my Living room the TV, DVR, and the end table lamp are all plugged into the outlets that are controlled by the wall switch. This does mean that the TV and the DVR are not “instant on,” but that is not important to me. Saving the energy drawn by these devices are.
Most of my kitchen small appliances are plugged into a wall strip. That strip also controls the light. It’s a dark kitchen that requires a light most of the time. So, turning off the strip turns most everything off. They are not draining energy while I’m not in the kitchen. Of course, the stove, refrigerator, and microwave are not on the power strip.
Convert from conventional and CFLs to LED lighting
Way back when LEDs were new, I bought them, a few at a time when they were on sale, until my entire house was converted to LEDs. They were so expensive back then. Now they are pretty reasonable. I have a lamp that in the dining area of my house. It lights the kitchen, the hall to the living room, the stairway going upstairs and the entryway, is only a few watts. It’s on a timer. Now I have safety and light for very low watts. I’m not tempted to turn on higher watt bulbs just to grab a glass of water or to grab something from the fridge. It also lights the stairs so when I go upstairs, I am safe.
Side note: There is some concern with LED lighting causing damage to the cornea. When I ordered my last pair of glasses, I ordered them with a filter that filters out the effects of the LED bulbs. The lenses have a slight blue tint to them, but if it saves my eyes, I’m happy to do that. These lenses are often called computer lenses – to reduce eyestrain. So they also work to filter the bad effects of the computer, TV and phone screens.
Turn it Off
While I don’t turn off lights when I’m leaving the room just for a few minutes, I don’t leave lights on when I’m not using a room, either. Safety lights as described above, yes. Overhead or bigger lamps, no.
Wash and Dry Full Loads
While this is easy for families, couples and singles sometimes struggle to have full loads. And those of us who use microfiber towels often run small loads as they have special washing requirements. But try to run full loads when possible. It also saves energy to keep the dryer warm rather than warming it – meaning, you use less energy to do all your wash one load after another rather than a load here and a load there. So, if that works for your life and schedule, you’ll save some energy that way.
Lower the temperature on the Water Heater
There is a trick to having a hot shower first thing in the morning even when the temperature is lower. Set your dishwasher to run so that it finishes using water about 30 minutes prior to your shower time. This will cause the water heater to be fully heated. My water is about 10 – 15 degrees lower in the morning after sitting all night unused. Setting up the dishwasher to run means it will be at the set temperature and I will have a nice warm shower.
To save gasoline, plan your routes.
I’ve always planned my errands so that I don’t have to backtrack. If I need to schedule an appointment – doctor, dentist, even visiting a friend, I look at my errands. What can I do on the way there or back? Even if I have to pop a cooler in the trunk, it just makes sense to me to not waste time or gas by making two trips.
I remember once when a clerk didn’t want to give me a raincheck. He wanted me to drive 5-7 miles to another location (the opposite way of home). I had just come from that area and I was nearly home. This was the last stop of my day of errands. The young man couldn’t understand why that was a big deal. At the time gas prices were almost $5 a gallon. My car got about 28-34 MPG in the city. So I’d use more than 1/3 a tank of gas to run to the other store. That would have cost me over $1.50 and wasted a good half hour of my time, probably more. I demanded a raincheck (turned out he didn’t know how to do a raincheck and had to call his manager at home).
Tax Tip: If you’re an entrepreneur and have meetings that you need to drive to, look at your errands list. If you’re passing someplace, stop while en route. Then you’re writing off the miles on your taxes for your business. This is perfectly legal. You aren’t going out of your way. You can account for the miles for a business purpose. Check with your tax professional or get Sandy Botkin’s latest book on tax deductions on how to record your mileage.
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