Living green is easy—and cheap! So if you want to lower your hydro bill and contribute to the health of the environment, read on!
Inefficient cooking practices can be a huge energy waster! Be a bit more conservative by keeping a lid on pots while boiling and simmering. Use the toaster oven rather than the electric oven when cooking small items, and choose a hand-held blender over a food processor whenever possible. Thaw frozen food completely to save on cooking time, and be sure to keep your oven door closed as much as possible. Peeking inside can cause as much as 20 per cent of the heat to escape – meaning your oven has to work hard to heat itself up again!
2. Food Storage
Stop opening the fridge or freezer just to peek inside and decide what you feel like munching on! Also, don’t overstuff your freezer. This affects the efficiency of the appliance. Finally, clean the cooling coils on your refrigerator regularly to ensure they always perform well.
Always load your dishwasher correctly to ensure each dish is cleaned properly. And forget about rinsing dishes thoroughly before putting them in the machine – that’s what the dishwasher is for, so scrape, don’t rinse! Only wash full loads and always use the shortest wash cycle. And air dry dishes rather than using your dishwasher’s wasteful drying cycle.
Wash and rinse clothes in cold water whenever possible – for this purpose, try investing in a detergent designed for cold water washes. Presoak heavily soiled garments rather than running them through the heavy duty wash setting. And don’t use too much detergent. This only causes the machine to have to work harder. Finally, don’t overload the dryer, and, when possible, air dry clothes, towels, sheets and comforters on an outdoor line.
5. Air Conditioning
A few carefully placed fans can create an impressive cross-breeze that can feel even better than AC on a warm day. Also try keeping curtains and shades closed on hot and sunny days and always ensure that the ‘fresh air’ vent on your machine is closed. If it isn’t, you’re likely wasting money cooling down outside air. Finally, always make sure your outdoor air conditioning unit is kept free of leaves and debris and clean the filter regularly.
It’s not always necessary to crank the heat in winter – sometimes an extra blanket or a cozy sweatshirt works just as well, and it’s free! Always remember to keep basement, attic and garage doors closed, and try using a ceiling fan on low speed to spread heat evenly around a room. Use programmable thermostats to help regulate heat when you’re not home.
Open blinds or shades during the day rather than turning on lights. Make the switch to fluorescent bulbs, which use much less energy then traditional incandescent bulbs and last six times longer. Place lamps in the corners of rooms to ensure more even light distribution, and consider installing ‘task’ lighting in areas such as kitchens and bathrooms.
Hot baths and long showers certainly are luxurious, but when attempting to cut back on that hydro bill, they can be a real drain. Reduce time spent in the tub and also install low-flow showerheads and hot water heater timers. Finally, buy an insulating cover for your water heater and pipes.
Heat loss due to poor insulation is a major contributor to wasted energy. Ensure floors, walls and roof are properly insulated. If you find areas in your home that are lacking, call in a professional to blow in insulation or do the job yourself with fiberglass bats. Seal gaps and cracks in windows and doors with caulking and weather-stripping, too.
Turn down the brightness on your monitor, and always remember to turn off your computer when not in use. Shut down other equipment, such as printers, too, rather than leaving them to run unattended. Set all household computers to enter ‘sleep mode’ after a few minutes of lying dormant. And try replacing energy wasting CRT monitors with new LCD monitors.