Electricity is so commonplace that people seldom think about where it comes from or how it gets into their homes. Only when there are sudden grid crashes because of unexpected storms or heat waves do customers give a second thought to all the appliances, electronics and HVAC systems that rely on a steady supply of electricity. The fact is that over 60% of electricity still comes from fossil fuels, non-renewable energy sources that create pollution and warm the planet. It's time that everyone seriously considers their reliance on electricity and ways to minimize their impact on global warming and pollution. Read on for some of the most effective ways to reduce your reliance on the utility company.
The single biggest impact you can make toward reducing your reliance on utility electricity provided by fossil fuels is to install a solar energy system. This can be a large system with panels that collect electricity and send your excess energy back to the utility company for credit toward your usage at night or when it is cloudy. Now that solar battery technology is progressing, it may even be possible to go off the grid entirely, storing your excess energy for when you need it. The average American family is using nearly $1,500 in electricity each year, or over 10,000 kilowatt-hours. A system that covers the majority of that is a huge reduction, and the excess power you produce can help reduce your neighbor's reliance on fossil fuel as well. Solar doesn't have to be an expensive all-or-nothing prospect though. It can mean a small system you install yourself. With the help of a transfer switch to stop feedback into the grid, you can generate enough power to run some of your appliances. There's really no amount that's too small to make a difference. Solar panels are relatively inexpensive so setting up a system with a small battery can keep your fridge running for free. An additional benefit to reducing your energy usage through some of the following techniques is that it also means you require less solar power so you can go further on the same amount, or even invest in a less expensive solar system.
Invest In Electricity Savings
Many of today's technological gadgets don't really turn off, they go into standby. So even while those screens are dark they are secretly using up electricity. Switching to power strips allows you to completely shut down this phantom use and potentially save over $165 a year. Another way to save in the long-term by spending now is investing in power-saving appliances. Tankless water heaters to Energy Star-certified refrigerators and dishwashers will all help save money over the long term. Finally, switch your lights to LED. LED bulbs are more expensive upfront but they can last up to 20 times longer than a traditional bulb. Replacing a single 60-watt incandescent bulb that you use an average of 40 hours a week with an LED bulb can save you nearly $100 over the life of that single LED bulb. There's probably no other investment in energy savings besides solar that has such an impact on your bottom line and reduced energy use.
Turn Down the Heat
A place that many are spending more than they need is in the cost of heating. This isn't about the electricity it takes to keep your house warm in the winter but all the appliances that use heat to do their jobs. Check your water heater. Lowering the temperature on your water heater thermostat by 10 degrees can save you about 5% of your monthly bill, not to mention that it is safer for everyone in the house, preventing scalds and burns. Instead of using your clothes dryer, do it the old-fashioned and just as effective way of drying your clothes on a line if the weather allows. Not only do you save the cost of running the drier but you keep your house cooler when you aren't generating additional heat. The same applies to your dishwasher. Consider doing your dishes by hand, or simply running the wash cycle and setting the dishes to air dry. It keeps your kitchen cooler, with the same end result: dry dishes.
Review Your Home
Sometimes energy is escaping our home in ways we don't realize. Nearly every utility will send out a pro to evaluate ways you can keep your house a lean insulation machine. Here are some guidelines for doing it yourself. Check the seals around your windows and doors. If your ductwork is getting old, look for leaks. While you're up in the attic take a look at your insulation and decide if it's time for an upgrade. Investing in double-pane windows is another way to keep your house better insulated. From the easy step of turning off the lights through to a whole new solar system, there are ways for every household and every budget to reduce its reliance on fossil fuel electricity.