#CurbYourConsumption: 5 Ways to Stop Wasting Electricity

Electricity powers our homes with light and warmth, but it also greatly contributes to global warming. According to the International Environmental Agency (IEA), electricity and heat account for 30.4 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. One-third of that percentage, the IEA data show, comes from residential buildings. This tells us that one-tenth of greenhouse gas emissions result from decisions we make at home—how long we keep our phone charger in the wall, which light bulbs we use, and how brightly lit we want the house to be at all times. To ring in a more sustainable new year, CHARDONNAY NEEDLER suggests five ways to stop wasting electricity.

#1. Tune in, turn off, and shut down


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In other words, drop off the (electricity) grid whenever possible. After you're done, shut down your computer and monitor rather than leaving it idle on screensaver mode. Also stop the waste of standby power (aka “vampire power”) by unplugging devices like phones and laptop chargers, televisions, microwaves, toasters, printers, scanners, blenders, you name it. Not only will that save you around $100 a year, you’ll also help eliminate 5 to 10 per cent of residential electricity use. If, like me, you constantly forget, opt for power strips that turn off all devices at the flick of a single switch. 

#2. Blankets, Blinds and Fans Are Your Best Friends


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Instead of doing the majority of the heating and cooling around the house via a thermostat, try adjusting it to the outside temperature either manually or via a smart thermostat. (This would be about 25 to 27 degrees Celsius in the summertime and 18 to 20 degrees in the wintertime.)

When the weather's cold, pile on the blankets and put on the fuzzy socks. Here's an old trick my grandmother taught me: heat the kitchen with the oven by opening it up after you turn it off. In hotter times, fans (handheld, standing, or overhead) are your best friends. Insulated windows and doors keep indoor temperatures cooler, while blinds, curtains and shades can keep out the glare and heat of direct sunlight.

#3. Keep Things Clean and Closed


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Dirty HVAC filters use up more energy but serve you less, and cleaning them regularly can save you up to 15 per cent in electricity costs. Dusty fridges, too, work harder to keep food less cold, so clean the coils and the top frequently to stop them from wasting copious amounts of energy. Shutting the doors to rooms you aren’t in or hardly go into—closets, guest rooms, pantries, etc.—also stops warm or cool air from ending up where it doesn’t belong. For extra precaution, close the vents in rooms you rarely use, too.

#4. Upgrade Your Light Bulbs and Electronics


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As CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) gradually phase out, it's time to switch to LEDs, which reduce electricity use by 30 per cent per bulb! Also, ensure that all of your electronics are marked with the appropriate energy-efficient ratings.

#5. Stop Wasting Water


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In an earlier article, Kylie Cooper presented five ways to limit water waste. These principles apply to energy consumption as well. Lowering the water temperature for both the washer as well as your shower will eliminate extra energy expenditure that goes towards heating the water. And when it comes to laundry, ensure that you do full loads each time to reduce the number of washes and conserve precious water and energy.

Conserving electricity is not just about saving dollars on your next power bill; it's also about being mindful in our consumption of this finite resource. So let's do both our pocketbooks and planet a favour, and take these five steps towards conserving precious energy.

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