We could all use a few energy-saving reminders right now. After all, thanks to quarantine and the shelter-in-place rules, most of us are at home now more than ever before. As a result, we are likely using up far more home energy than we did just a few short months ago. Nevertheless, even while home on quarantine, there are a lot of small things that we can do to reduce energy waste.
Why Energy-Saving Reminders Are Important Right Now
Saving energy at home might be the last thing that you want to think about right now. Or at least it might be pretty low on the list when there are so many other things that you are worried about. Between homeschooling the kids, getting safe food prepared, and figuring out how to keep pets entertained when the dog parks are closed, you might just not feel like you have the mental energy to worry about things like home energy. However, it’s important.
These energy-saving reminders matter right now because:
- Saving energy at home means saving money at home. Money is increasingly tight for everyone. If you’re concerned about financial costs now or in the near future, then you want to save every penny that you can. Saving energy saves those pennies.
- Saving energy at home can be done in a way that reinforces routine. For example, if you always turn the lights off at home when the sun gets bright in the noon sky, then doing so is part of your new routine. Having a new daily routine can help a lot with mood when you’re home all day every day.
- You can control your energy use. Many people have found that their anxiety is at an all-time high. You can’t change the world. You alone aren’t going to solve COVID-19. However, you can control small little parts of your environment. This can help your anxiety. Therefore, implementing these energy-saving reminders might help you feel a little bit better overall.
- You’ll be establishing good habits. Whether or not you already had an energy-saving plan in place, you could use one. That might be a new one or a tweak to the old one now that your routine is different. These are good habits for yourself, your children, and your whole household. The lessons learned now will last.
Those are just a few of the reasons that saving energy at home continues to matter even though it may feel unimportant in the face of bigger challenges right now.
How Saving Energy On Electronics Use Is Good For Mental Health
As aforementioned, setting up a routine around your house is good for you. People who suddenly find themselves home all day with their family members might easily begin to feel stir crazy. A routine is one of the best ways to give structure to the days. Your home energy use can be a part of that routine.
In particular, you can utilize energy-saving reminders around electronics usage to help structure your routine in a way that gives you downtime from all devices. This is a benefit for your mental health. It’s certainly tempting to get lost in a Netflix binge every day right now. There’s nothing wrong with that being part of your routine. Just remember that the more time spent staring at screens, the more you risk depression and anxiety. Taking screen breaks to do non-electronic activities is good for your mental health. It’s good for the whole family. And, of course, it’s good for your energy bill.
Here are some energy-saving reminders around reducing electronics use:
- Set times of day that are screen-free in your home. Do not charge devices during this time.
- Set timers on your WiFi so that the entire home internet shuts off during specific hours.
- In particular, reduce or eliminate screen time in the hours before bedtime. This is when you are most likely to waste energy on useless screen activity. Moreover, it interrupts your sleep.
- Use low-energy settings on devices when you can. If you’re home at noon in bright light then your computer screen doesn’t need to be set to maximum brightness.
- Ask yourself, “can I do this without the device?” Get creative.
Take Advantage of Springtime
It is springtime in much of the world (and fall in the other half). In a lot of places, this means beautiful weather for much of the day. Additionally, it means that there are later daylight hours. Use this to your advantage to reduce home energy use.
For example, open your windows. You don’t need to turn on fans or air conditioning if the breeze is coming in from outside. If you live somewhere that’s still cold, you might keep the windows closed except during the nicest part of the day. However, wear sweaters rather than turning on the heater.
Use the increase in daylight hours to keep your home’s lights turned off for as much of the day as possible. Your overhead light bulbs probably don’t need to be turned on. Move your work/play spaces throughout the day to chase the sun. In other words, work in your East-facing rooms in the morning and your West-facing rooms as the sun starts to set.
Other Energy-Saving Reminders During Quarantine
Here are some additional energy-saving reminders that can help you stay green, and reduce utility bill costs, during this time:
- Hang your clothing up to dry. Avoid the cost of running the dryer.
- What about drying your dishes by hand? Yes, you should do that, too. However, you shouldn’t wash them by hand; The Environmental Center explains that typically dishwashers use less energy than hand washing your dishes.
- Wash clothes using cold water. Of course, if you’ve been using hot water because of sanitization that’s understandable. But for normal laundry loads, use cold.
- Oh, and wash your hands with cold water too. The Citizens Utility Board explains that it’s just as safe to wash with cold water as with hot water but it saves all of that home energy. Keep that in mind since you’re probably washing your hands much more frequently these days.
- Don’t bother ironing your clothes. If you’re not going to work, don’t use the iron.
- Move your mirrors around. You can place them strategically to maximize natural light so that you don’t have to turn lights on.
- Use candles or your fireplace at night. Keep lights off or dim. This is a chance to embrace the coziness of staying at home.
- Close curtains at night, open them during the day. This makes the best use of nature for heating and cooling.
- Check your air vents. Are they blocked by furniture? Are they covered up by drapes? Rearrange accordingly so that they work efficiently.
- Use appliances only when they are full. For example, don’t run a dishwasher that only has three dishes in it. Keep washing times on appliances as short as necessary to get the job done.
- Put a limit on shower time. The more you run the hot water, the more energy you use at home.
- Speaking of which, turn down your water heater. Just turn it down a few degrees and you’ll save yourself a nice chunk of change on your next energy bill.
- Reduce your cooking time. Do all of your cooking for the week at once. Eat as many raw/cold meals as possible. Use small appliances, such as a toaster oven, instead of large appliances such as your stove.
- In that same vein, have specific meal and snack times. Just because you’re all home all day doesn’t mean someone should be opening and closing the refrigerator door every few minutes.
- Unplug. We already said this but we’ll say it again. Unplug. Don’t let your devices charge all day every day. Take a break not just from using them but also from literally having them plugged in.
- Don’t forget to turn everything off when you leave the house. You probably aren’t leaving the house much these days, which can make you forget good energy-saving habits on those days that you do head outdoors. Make sure you’ve turned off all lights, devices, and home heating/cooling systems.
Check With Your Energy Company For Options
If you find yourself having trouble paying your energy bill during this time, don’t hesitate to find out what help is available. The energy companies are offering people assistance as needed during this time. They may help you get on a reasonable payment plan, see if you qualify for financial aid, or assist you in making energy-saving changes to your home.
Additionally, look for plans that help you save money on your energy use. For example, I use OhmConnect which gives me small amounts of money back when I meet energy-saving goals. This reminds me to look for ways to save energy.
Want to see if your knowledge of energy saving is up to par? Take our household energy use money saving quiz.