16:47 PM

Saving Energy Keeps Getting Easier

I would never dream of leaving my childhood room, much less the house, without turning the lights off. Mama and Daddy drilled it in my head from infancy: Turn off the lights when you leave your room. It was old-fashioned common sense: Don’t waste what you’re not using.

When I became the queen of my own castle, I realized there was more to it. There was a money-saving component because less energy consumed meant lower power bills.

Recently I got to thinking about the old energy rules and the newer ideas and inventions that have altered them. Here are a few oldies with their newbie counterparts:

Turn off the lights. It’s still a good idea to switch off the lights when you leave the room, but there are even more ways now to save on your electric bill. If you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to replace your incandescent lightbulbs and fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) with light emitting diodes (LED) bulbs. LEDs produce high-quality lighting, use far less energy, and last much longer. By switching to LEDs, you’ll save money on the replacement cost of lightbulbs and on your energy bill.

Turn up your A/C thermostat setting. Raise your thermostat setting on your central air conditioning system. Turn the thermostat up in summer to save energy; preferable settings for premium energy efficiency are 78 in summer. (And if you have trouble remembering to dial back the thermostat when you leave the house or go to sleep, invest in a smart thermostat that learns your family’s schedule and remembers for you. When used properly, a smart thermostat can save about $180 a year in energy costs, according to Energstar.gov.)

Take short showers. A 10-minute shower consumes less water than a typically full bath, saving water and the power used to produce it. But with today’s low-flow showerheads, you can save even more. A 2.5 gallon-per-minute, low-flow showerhead uses about 25 gallons of water during a 10-minute shower while a typical bath uses closer to 30 gallons. Newer model showerheads can save up to $145 annually on power costs.

Wash dishes by hand. No, just no. Washing dishes by hand typically uses more water and energy. You’ll save both by using your dishwasher if you adhere to these simple suggestions: scrape instead of rinsing dishes before loading them, run the dishwasher only with a full load, and use the air-dry option if your dishwasher has one. Today’s appliances wash dishes beautifully without rinsing first; let the wash cycle and detergent take care of the cleaning.

Don’t wash clothes in hot water. With improved appliances and products, there’s not much reason to use hot water, and you’ll save energy and money by using cold water. When it comes to electricity used when washing clothes, the washer motor only uses about 10 percent of the energy required to wash a load of clothes; water heating accounts for the remaining 90 percent of energy when you wash with hot water. Use cold water only and you’ll not only save energy; you’ll lengthen the lifespan of your clothes, too. Save more by washing only full loads or reducing the water level when washing a partial load.

Finally, if your appliances still work well, hang on to them. But when the time comes to replace older appliances, it’s worth it to invest in newer, energy-efficient models.


Jackie Kennedy has worked with Georgia’s electric cooperatives for 23 years, producing newsletters, press releases and articles about the industry or energy-related matters. She is the author of People, Power, Progress: The Story of Jackson EMC, published in 2013. In her blog, she grapples with a variety of energy efficiency topics.