Energy Tips for the Boomerang Household
So your kids have come back home to stay? Are they out of a job, or just trying to save up to pay off that student loan, buy their own homes, or prepare for a new career? No worries. You’re in the same boat as 5.1 million other American households. That’s 4.4% of the national total and growing, according to the census bureau.
What you should worry about, though, will be the sudden spike in your energy bills. Today’s young people might be more conscious about the environment but their activities gobble up a lot of power! Helpful habits like turning off the lights when not in use might not be enough to keep consumption down so we’ve listed proven techniques for keeping a lid on what you spend for energy.
- Use natural daylight as much as possible. Avoid turning on electrical lighting during the day. Pull back the curtains, open the blinds and let the sunshine in. It’s good for your health and good for your budget. Every member of the household should buy into this strategy, including boomerang kids who can’t seem to tear themselves away from the computer. Inside the house, visibility of the PC monitors will work just fine with all windows open and sunlight streaming in.
- Plant trees. If you’re serious about maximizing the use of sunlight, you don’t want to negate all the savings by turning the airconditioning on because it’s too hot. Planting trees in strategic spots will help regulate the heat and light coming in. This can save you up to 35% of cooling bills and will add to the property value. If the planting and maintenance work is too heavy for you, use the muscle power of the teenagers or young adults in your household.
- Invest in LED lighting. First, they’re cool. Literally. They don’t generate as much heat as other types of lighting so amount of cooling costs can be saved. The best part is, while LED lighting fixtures can be quite expensive, they’ll pay for themselves in due time. To replace at 65-watt incandescent bulb with a 12-watt LED bulb, here’s what you’ll get. For a lamp that’s on six hours a day, that would give us 12 watts x 6 hours x 365 = 26.3 kWh. At $.12 per kWh, that’s $3.12 a year to operate. Subtract that from $16 that’s the cost of operating a 65-watt incandescent for the same period and you’ll get savings of $12.80 a year. With a lifespan of 25,000 hours (25 time more than incandescent lamps), a $30 LED bulb should theoretically last for about 12 years or just $2.5 per year. With the annual savings in energy, LED lighting will pay for itself in just under three years. Now multiply that by the number of bulbs in your house.
- Replace old appliances. Airconditioners and refrigerators nearing 10 years of active duty might be the reason why you can’t keep your energy bills down no matter how hard you try. Newer models have the “Energy Star” rating and will have power settings designed to conserve energy.
- Insulate. Filling spaces between the indoors and the outdoors will help warm air in winter and cool air in summer from escaping. Caulk the cracks, add weatherstripping to windows and doorframes, and seal ducts. You’ll see a big drop in bills when you do this properly, and the expense will more than pay for itself. Rearranging space to accommodate a “new” addition to the household is also the best time check on insulation and do the necessary repairs.
- Be wise with airconditioning. If you have to use an airconditioner, Keep your thermostat set at 78 degree Fahrenheit; or higher, and on “auto,” not “on.” Each degree can mean up to 9% savings on cooling costs. Use the timers to set them to turn off automatically when you’re sleeping. Unless there’s a heat wave on, you’ll only need airconditioning during the first three or four hours of sleep. Really savvy savers use devices that turn the electric fan on as the airconditioner turns off. Clean or replace your airconditioner filter monthly so your air conditioner runs efficiently.
- Practice good cooking habits. The following tips will help you save energy in kitchen – the busiest place in most households:
- Use your microwave oven in place of your range oven whenever possible.
- When you have to use your oven, cook more than one item at a time.
- Use flat-bottom pans for best contact with the heat, with tight-fitting lids to keep the steam in the pan.
- Use the lowest possible heat to maintain boiling or steaming.
- Preheat oven only 5 to 8 minutes when baking; do not preheat oven for broiling or roasting.
- Self-cleaning ovens have thicker insulation and will retain heat, making these models more energy-efficient than regular ovens. But use the self-cleaning feature only when absolutely needed.
- Pressure cookers use much less energy than ordinary pots and pans.
- Use small cooking appliances (electric fry pans, toaster ovens, etc.) whenever possible.
Are these energy-saving tricks SOP in your household? Is there anything we missed that you’d like to add to the list?