Reflecting back on this past winter, specifically, this past winter’s heating and energy bills, I’m really seeing a need to to reduce our energy costs. Here are ten ways that I’m saving energy this year:
How to Cut Energy Costs
I also wanted to figure out which habits and investments are worth making, and which ones sound good but don’t actually amount to huge savings.
1. Teach the Kids to Turn off the Lights
Even preschoolers can help with this one if you install these super-affordable KidSwitch light switch extenders. Encourage kids to also “catch” you when you forget to turn off the lights, and you can make a game of it where if family members leave the lights on more than 3 times in a day, everyone needs to eat supper in the dark.
2. Unplug Appliances
This seems so inconvenient sometimes, but now that it’s a habit for me, it takes two seconds to unplug or plug an appliance. I also go the extra step and store many of our small appliances in the cupboards, so I have more counter top space available for food preparation during the day.
If unplugging is not always viable, consider a power bar with an “off switch.”
3. Wear Sweaters & Slippers
I remember a huge cultural battle on a Montessori forum a couple of years ago when some very passionate sides were taken on the issue of whether or not shoes should be worn inside.
While I am firmly in the camp of “no outdoor shoes in the house,” I am a fan of indoor shoes or well-fitted slippers (none of those one-size fits all, super-padded ones). Not only are they cozy, they can allow you to keep your house a couple of degrees colder without feeling at all uncomfortable.
4. Open the Windows and Reverse the Ceiling Fans
Did you know that you should run ceiling fans counter-clockwise in the summer, and clockwise in the winter? We personally don’t have a need for ours in the winter, but that summer tip is good to know! The fan will cost about $7/month if running continuously.
5. Reduce Your Water Tank Holding Temperature
There is never a need for scalding water from the taps, and it could increase the risk of a child accidentally burning themselves. Reducing the holding temperature in your tank can save money, and give you peace of mind.
Changing to a tankless water heater can save about $70-90/year and if you own your home, it can increase the resale value. If that’s not feasible, an insulating water tank blanket could save a bit of money.
6. Dry Efficiently
If using a dryer, make sure to empty your lint filter with every laundry load (and check out our homemade laundry detergent), but you can actually lengthen the life of your clothes and save money off your energy bill by hanging clothes up to dry — and not just in the summer! We use a clothes drying rack, and the kids love helping to hang the clothes up — it’s a great Montessori practical life work.
7. Close Vents in Unused Rooms
This was completely new to me! If your vents don’t have a mechanism to close them, you can buy magnetic covers, or cover them up yourself with tinfoil (or cardboard covered in tinfoil) — this is good for A/C or heat.
8. Throw Rugs vs Bare Floors
Bare floors can keep the house cool, and a throw rug can actually warm things up.
9. Smart Thermostat
I work from home and cannot sleep in a cold house, but for most people the cold actually helps with sleep and they aren’t home during the day. A programmable thermostat can help you cut costs when you don’t need the house warmed (or cooled).
10. Clean Kitchens
Using a drip pan, vacuuming the dust from the back of your fridge, not overstuffing your freezer, using microwaves or microwave ovens to reheat food — all of these little things can add up to real savings.
What are your top energy tips – to save the environment and your money?