Been on spring break yet? Here’s some tips that could help give your energy use a break.
If you’re a college student, depending on which school you attend, you may have recently returned from a much needed spring break. Or, you may be counting down the days to one coming up. Either way, if you’re a college student who rents, then here’s some low-cost, no-cost ways to save energy while you are at home or away enjoying your break. Even if you rent an apartment, townhouse or a home, you can make a difference on your energy bill and the environment.
Lighting and electronics
Consumer electronics are becoming a large part of everyday life, accounting for 15 percent of household electricity use. Many consumer electronics use energy even when turned off, which is called phantom energy use.
Buy a smart power strip. Smart power strips can shut down auxiliary items when the main device is shut off, but leave some devices left on, such as clocks. Search for one online by “smart” or “controlled” plug strips.
Unplug any battery chargers or power adapters, such as a cell phone charger, when not in use. Each individual charger doesn’t use much energy, however, every little bit adds up, especially with roommates.
Remember to turn your computer off at night and use the built-in energy savings standby and hibernate functions. Computers left on 24/7 can add about $12 a month to your energy bill. If you have more than one computer in your residence, the potential energy savings can really add up.
Install high efficiency compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) in place of incandescent bulbs. CFLs last up to seven times longer than an incandescent bulb (7,000 hours versus 1,000 hours). It will take about six months at three hours burn-time per day to pay for the CFLs, which are available for every lighting need.
Reducing your energy use in the kitchen
-Use the microwave, a pressure cooker, electric pan or a toaster oven for smaller meals.
-Take advantage of residual heat by turning the oven or burners off a few minutes before you’re done cooking.
-One dishwasher load usually uses less hot water than three washings by hand.
-Vacuum the condenser coils on your refrigerator every three months to remove dust so it can operate more efficiently. Coils are located on the bottom or rear of the unit.
Tips for vacation
Water Heater: Turn down the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees. If you are away for a week or longer, turn off an electric water heater or put a natural gas water heater in vacation mode, if your water heater has one.
Refrigerator: Fill your refrigerator or freezer with plastic milk containers filled with water, if you’ll be away for less than a month. A full refrigerator or freezer uses the smallest amount of energy. Also, turn off your ice-maker.
Lights: Turn off all lights in your home before leaving except for security lighting. Consider installing a timer to limit the time the security lights are on and to make it appear you are home.
Electronics: Unplug all electronic appliances such as computers, stereos, TV’s, DVR’s, cable and satellite boxes, cell phone chargers and DVD players. Electronics with digital displays, instant-on features and remote controls use electricity even when they are turned off.
Windows: In summer, close drapes and blinds to block out the sun and keep your home from heating up and provide security while you are away.
If you have roommates, try to reach an agreement about a comfortable temperature for all. Running the heat or air conditioning (A/C) with windows open will quickly add to your energy bill.