Curtailing energy consumption is a great way for people to protect the planet's natural resources and save money at the same time.
Part of the difficulty with regard to reducing energy consumption is that energy plays such a big role in our lives. Smartphones and tablets have become must-have items, and these items, though not necessarily big consumers of energy, must be plugged in and charged. But individuals won't have to unplug from their lives to reduce their energy consumption. In fact, there are several easy, non-invasive ways for everyday people to reduce their energy consumption.
- Start with your windows. The windows in a home can help homeowners and apartment dwellers reduce their heating and cooling costs. On cold days, pull back curtains so the natural sunlight can come in and warm the house, reducing the need to turn up the temperature on the thermostat. When the weather outside is especially warm, hang blackout curtains to prevent the hot sun from warming rooms and increasing the need for air conditioning. In addition, address any leaks around windows to ensure hot and cold air is not escaping and contributing to excessive energy consumption.
- Maintain appliances and replace older ones. While reducing reliance on energy-thirsty appliances is a great way to reduce energy consumption, no one needs to throw away their refrigerators. Instead, maintain appliances so they are not forced to work harder, and thereby consume more energy, to function. Routinely clean the filters on window air conditioners, replacing them if they're worn down. In addition, have HVAC units serviced annually to ensure they're operating at peak capacity. Replace older appliances, including refrigerators, that are no longer effective.
- Install a low-flow shower head. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends that eco-conscious consumers looking to reduce their energy consumption install low-flow shower heads with flow rates less than 2.5 gallons per minute. This is especially important for people living in homes with dated fixtures. Water fixtures installed before 1992 might have flow rates as high as 5.5 gallons per minute, which is both wasteful and costly. Test the flow of a shower head by placing a one-gallon bucket beneath a shower head running at the pressure you normally use. If the bucket fills up in less than 20 seconds, install a low-flow shower head.
- Install ceiling fans. Ceiling fans can be installed to reduce energy consumption in both summer and winter. In summer, ceiling fans can make home interiors more comfortable by circulating air around a room. That circulation can make rooms feel cooler, providing the same benefit of an air conditioner while consuming considerably less energy. In winter, reverse the rotation of ceiling fans so they circulate warm air and reduce reliance on heating systems.
Reducing energy consumption does not require substantial sacrifice, but it can produce substantial savings and benefit the planet in myriad ways.