Smart Ways to Save Electricity

There are many Internet lists on saving electricity. Sadly many of the real gems are lost in the clutter of product marketing and poor knowledge. Or worse, the hidden agenda of authorities, politics, and scam artists! Do not forget that U.S. taxpayers can get a tax credit of 30% for installing approved energy efficiency upgrades.

The best ways to save electricity depend on where you live and the size of your home. But turning lights off, setting thermostats correctly and buying energy efficient appliances always helps.

We publish this guide to help regular people like you find practical information on saving electricity. Each idea links to expert articles and comments by real people. Saving money is always a good thing to do. Having fun,  demonstrating how not to waste, and teaching science to our children is life changing!

Attitude & Awareness
Attitude is defined as "manner, disposition, feeling, with regard to energy; especially of the mind" Without a real change in attitude many people will start saving electricity, and soon slip back into old habits.
Awareness is defined as "the state or ability to perceive, to feel, or to be conscious of events". Without a real change in awareness many consumers will try to save energy, but their lack of knowledge will leave them open to be scammed!
Energy Audit
There are steps to take that make a list (audit) of what is using energy in a home or small business. If you pay a professional firm, make sure you are getting an audit and not a sales pitch. It is OK to invite a vendor to do a study and present a proposal to you. Be sure to have "before" (energy base line) and an agreed "after" savings defined.
Energy Monitoring
General - If you can not measure it, you can not manage it! Monitoring (knowledge) can only save electricity when you act (do something) - it has been proven that those who do monitor electricity will save more electricity than those who do not.
Behavior - So few do it - no technology needed - study your electricity bill and REALLY understand how much electricity you use. Use the manufacturers web sites to see how much electricity each of your major appliances use. Monitoring is more accurate as this will show what you are using - estimates are much better than nothing! 
Behavior - Many Utilities provide on-line access to your bill. They have graphs showing your month by month use and comparisons to other homes like you. If you have a smart meter, there will be a free service that shows what you used - interval (vary from 15 minutes to 2 hours) by interval. Make changes and see the savings - you need to note the time and what you did - then compare this to the updated (usually next day) data.
Technology - There are a number of excellent energy monitors available. From an open source project for the DIY energy enthusiast, to an in-line measuring device, to all singing and dancing circuit level monitoring.
Lighting

General - The technology to produce light efficiently (less heat) is improving rapidly. There are new standards to be understood; Lumens for amount of light; Kelvin for the temperature/color of light. Although buying the right light bulb is more complicated, it is in our interests to learn about the new choices available!  

Behavior - A light turned off is ALWAYS a saving - and 100% less carbon created
Incandescent Bulbs - They are not evil - use where needed!
CFL Bulbs - Install Compact Fluorescent light bulbs in fittings and fixtures as applicable!
LED Bulbs - Install LED light bulbs for optimal efficiency in fittings and fixtures where applicable!
Sensors - How we used a Light Sensitive Sensor to control our kitchen light
Sensors - Add a motion detector to outside security lighting
Heating
General - Heating can be a large part of winter household energy use. Some of the savings will be in natural gas supplied heat energy. Remember that you use electricity to run the motor pushing air through a central heating system, to power electric heaters, under floor heating and much more.   
Behavior - Make a list of all the devices and appliances that use electricity to make heat - knowledge is key!
Behavior - Maintain adequate ventilation without allowing excess heat to escape through open doors or windows.  
Behavior - Open blinds and shades to allow the sunlight in during winter.
Behavior - Check for air leaks in all doors, windows and exterior openings.
Sealing - Weatherstrip all windows and doors - seal any air leaks - ensure adequate ventilation.
Insulation - Inspect your ceiling insulation and replace if warranted - especially in places with cold winters.
Insulation - Inspect the insulation on your hot water tank, and on your hot water pipes.
Thermostats - Always set to control heat for optimal efficiency and comfort.
Thermostats - Install a wireless programmable thermostat for improved control.
Thermostats - Set night temperature to be as low as comfortable for sleeping.
Thermostats - Adjust your thermostat before leaving home - especially if being away for an extended time.
Cooling  
Audit - Arrange a professional HVAC inspection - pay attention to any leaking ducts  
Behavior - Shop for size of individual units  
Behavior - Clean air filters monthly for central air and individual window or wall units.  
Settings - Program thermostats for comfort - adjust settings when away  
Settings - Install a wireless programmable thermostat - program settings, adjust when away  
Sealing - Invest in some caulk and weather-stripping to seal cracks in doors and windows  
Behavior - Limit use of heat-generating appliances; oven, dishwasher, dryer during heat of day  
Behavior - Use a fan - a breeze makes the room feel a few degrees cooler  
Shading - Improve shading for windows  
Shading - Close your shades in the summer  
Equipment - Install an evaporating cooler  
Hot Water
Settings - Reduce water heater temperature
Equipment - Install a solar water heater
Equipment - Replace old shower heads with air assisted pressure heads
Behavior - Shave a minute off shower time
Equipment - Invest in a demand water heater
Appliances
Behavior - Wash clothes with cold water
Behavior - Make sure refrigerator seals are tight
Behavior - Save Electricity by NOT using the heated dry feature on the dishwasher - air dry dishes
Behavior - Clean your refrigerator coils

We encourage you to explore the best ways to save energy, including excellent reader comments at MapAWatt.

 

Open4Energy - Get Smart about Energy™