As temperatures rise and air conditioners get a serious workout, looking for ways to improve energy efficiency at home can help you and your electric cooperative reduce demand, saving energy and money.
Making small adjustments in when, where and how you use electricity will help control your energy costs.
Avoid peak times, typically 4–8 p.m. in summer, by putting some chores on hold, at least until power demand dips. Consider some of the jobs 1 kilowatt-hour of electricity can do before you use it:
- Wash three loads of laundry.
- Complete one dryer cycle.
- Vacuum two average-size homes.
- Iron five shirts.
- Run three cycles in a loaded dishwasher.
- Use the oven for 30 minutes.
At 78 degrees most people are comfortable outside, so why not indoors? Most people aren’t sensitive enough to notice much of a difference in air temperature whether the thermostat is set at 73 or raised to 78. But the closer your thermostat setting is to the outdoor temperature, the less your air conditioner will run.
Each degree of temperature difference represents a percentage of the total cooling load. That means that when temperatures are in the high 80s, you could reduce your cooling demand by 10%–15% for each degree above 75.
Fans offer an economical alternative to air conditioning on mild days and can pitch in for comfort as temperatures climb. In summer, set ceiling fans to turn counterclockwise and blow air downward to get the most value.
Central AC can use as much as 1 kWh of electricity for each 12-minute cycle of cooling. A ceiling fan can operate for about 13 hours on the same amount of electricity, while a floor or table fan, depending on its size, might run for 10 hours per kilowatt-hour of power. Turn off fans when you leave a room because they cool people, not space.
Appliances on your countertops or stashed in your pantry use less energy and could keep you cooler. Microwaves use about 60% as much energy as full-size ovens, and a toaster oven or induction cooktop consumes about half as much power. Because these appliances are designed to heat food more efficiently in less space, the surface areas available for heating are smaller, which means less heat goes unused, keeping your kitchen cooler.
Share the Space
In simpler times families spent more time together in the same room even as they pursued different interests. Some members might’ve read books or magazines under the light of a shared lamp while others watched TV or played board games.
Today it’s common for everyone to retreat to separate spaces, turn on their electronics and close their doors to cocoon in their own environments.
Getting control of your energy use to reduce your home’s overall demand can be really challenging when you have to consider the entire home, so bring back family time to beat the peak.
LCD televisions generally use 60% as much electricity as comparably sized plasma models. One laptop uses about 20% as much power as a desktop computer and monitor. And today’s home assistant devices can play music using about 17% of the energy of a component stereo system.
A video game console consumes about 200 watts of power. One system pressed into service for spirited competition between family members uses about a third of the power of three players engaged in separate games throughout the house.