Electrical Hacks - 3 Easy Energy-Saving Tips

In the cinema, literature, and television worlds, vampires were all the rage a few years ago. Remember the True Blood TV and book series? The Twilight movies? Kristen Stewart’s Oscar-worthy performance still sends shivers down my spine! (Cue eye-rolls here.)

Vampires may have been fashionable in those arenas, but when it comes to your home and the money you spend on keeping it cool and comfortable, so-called “energy vampires”—such as unruly, electrically needy appliances, windows, roofs, and walls without proper insulation, and more—are never attractive.

Not only do they put you in a more financially precarious situation, having to spend so much extra money on energy-related costs from month to month, they can also stand to diminish the value of your home in the long-run if they aren’t dealt with effectively.

Never fear. We’ve got the “life hack” equivalents of garlic, silver crosses, and wooden stakes below to vanquish those energy vampires from your life once and for all.

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Insulate your windows properly

These can be a bit tricky, not to mention a bit expensive, to get under control. If they’re not dealt with properly, windows can function almost like drains for the hot or cool air that your HVAC system puts out.

That means the hard-earned cash that you funnel into your HVAC for the purposes of your comfort is more or less bleeding out into the night air.

Thankfully, there are a few steps you can take to prevent this from happening—or at least diminish its financial impact on you.

  • Install double-glazed windows – Windows can be quite an expensive project to take on; if you’ve got the capital available, consider installing double-glazed windows, also known as IGUs (insulated glass units)—these basically have a second pane of glass on the exterior that reigns in energy that would otherwise escape through a window with just a single pane
  • Draw the curtains when you’re asleep, or when you leave the room – This is a much less expensive, and fairly effective, alternative to costly window installation; curtains or drapes act as a bulwark against hot and cool air which would otherwise escape, unimpeded, through an uncovered window

The folks over at Angie’s List recommend that homeowners with south-facing windows take care to install those double-glazed windows as soon as possible, as these windows are subject to the most intense levels of heat from the sun.

And, if you’re not convinced on the drapes and curtains front, consider this fact, also from the folks at Angie’s List: drapes that are of a darker color, and that are lined with white plastic, stand to reduce incoming heat from the sun (not to mention outgoing heat from within the home) by a margin of 33 percent.

Use ceiling fans whenever possible

Ceiling fans, as it turns out, have more than one application.

In addition to circulating the air in a room and thus lowering the temperature (if only moderately, in some instances, depending on where you’re situated geographically around the country), if ceiling fans are set to spin in the opposite direction from what they’re accustomed to, they can actually draw cold air upward and away from the individuals in a given room.

Confused? Let us explain a bit further, in more clarifying terms. Set your fans to move in the following directions depending on the time of year you find yourself in.

  • Counterclockwise in the summertime – This is the forward direction—it causes air to blow straight down, which naturally results in a cooling effect, preferable for those high summertime temperatures
  • Clockwise in the wintertime – This is the opposite (or backward-moving) direction; if your fan is set to a low speed, then, as mentioned previously, it draws the air upward and outward—it moves down along the walls, and keeps you from staying too chilly

What are the cost-related benefits of taking a simple step like this—utilizing your ceiling fan units more often?

Well, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), sustained ceiling fan usage—ahead of HVAC usage—stands to shave as much as 30 to 40 percent of the cost off of your electric bill.

That’s a heck of a savings you could collect over time, all with the simple flick of a switch on your bedroom wall.

Take a long hard gander at those kitchen appliances

It may surprise you to learn this, but even when they’re not turned on or in use, regular, everyday kitchen appliances—toasters, blenders, microwaves, even (perhaps even especially) and smartphone chargers—are draining miniscule amounts of energy away from your home.

On the face of it, this might seem a mite inconsequential. You’ve got all the big-time energy vampires under control. Your walls are well insulated, as are your windows and other ports of entry into your home. How bad can that appliance-related energy drain be, anyway?

We hate to burst your bubble, but that energy drain can result in… a lot… of lost income and wasted energy over time.

According to a recent article from the New York Times, “a quarter of all residential energy consumption is used on devices in idle power mode…. [t]hat means that devices that are ‘off’ or in standby or sleep mode can use up to the equivalent of 50 large power plants’ worth of electricity and cost more than $19 billion in electricity bills every year.”

So, what’s a first-time homeowner to do? How can you curb this energy and money loss without interfering with the appliances and accessories you need to maintain your quality of life?

Prioritize. Here are two “energy vampires” that likely occupy your house, and what you can do to nip their rampant, bloodsucking ways in the bud.

  • Unplug that MacBook charger – This is a simple fix. Even when your device is turned off, as long as it’s plugged in, it’s still sucking down as much as 48 watts of electricity. Do yourself a favor—when your computer is at 100%, don’t bleed your electricity provider dry slurping down excessive amounts of unnecessary energy.
  • Don’t stream movies with your game console – Again, according to the New York Times, gaming consoles “can use 45 times more power than streaming consoles”—so, when you’re going on your next Netflix binge, use energy-efficient streaming technology

There are all kinds of quick, easy, and—perhaps most importantly—inexpensive fixes one can make to diminish his or her needless energy consumption.

Explore and pursue the methods that work best for you. You don’t have to go bankrupt, or go without your much-loved technology, to cut down on your annual energy expenses.