Anyone who has lived for even a few hours through a power outage knows how much we need electricity for our daily lives. Without electricity, we don’t have lights, refrigeration, hot water, heat, home entertainment or even phone-charging capabilities. Things that we are accustomed to doing without giving it a second thought suddenly become impossible.
If you want to cut down on your energy consumption so you’ll have enough money to keep your electric meter running, your fridge humming and your online casino slots real money games playing on your PC and mobile device, check out the steps that you can take to reduce your energy consumption.
Today, around the country, people are struggling to pay the higher electric bills that have become our new reality. The main reason for the increase is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which has reduced overall supplies of natural gas, even though global consumption remains high. The prices, many consumer analysts believe, will continue to rise, especially in large gas-consuming states like Texas and California.
The National Energy Assistance Directors Association (NEADA) estimates that it will take the average family $1200 to heat their home this winter. That’s just for heat and doesn’t take into account other electricity costs. $1,200 is already $175 more than last winter but for natural gas customers, the winter heating costs may increase even more – up to a third more than last year. Much depends on the weather – if it’s a tough winter, there will be more demand for heat while if it’s a mild winter, the demand will be less.
Everyone is waiting to see what Russia does. Russia has stopped supplying Europe which means that American suppliers are making more money by exporting a lot of their natural gas to Europe, leaving a shortfall at home. Europe is scrambling to find alternative natural gas sources but if it can set up the needed infrastructures it will be able to ship liquefied natural gas by sea from countries such as Qatar.
Struggles on the Homefront
Some consumer advocates are already predicting shutoffs for up to 20 million American households this winter. Mark Wolfe, executive director of NEADA, believes that the country is “heading towards a period of unaffordable energy prices” and he called on Congress to act to increase funding to assist those who can’t pay for the increased energy bills.
Individuals can also take steps to lower their energy bills. Some ideas include:
Using less light may seem like a small step to lower your energy consumption but it adds up. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that an average household spends approximately 15% of their electricity use on lighting. To lower your lighting costs, switch to LED bulbs. LED bulbs last up to 25% longer than traditional incandescent bulbs and consume up to 90% less energy. LED bulbs are more expensive to buy but over the long run, will save you more money than you spend. For the greatest energy savings, purchase LED bulbs that are rated “ENERGY STAR.”
Sealing and Insulating
The more airtight your house is sealed, the less heat will escape and the easier it will be to maintain comfortable heat at a lower cost. Adding insulation and sealing your house can help you save an additional 15% on heating and cooling costs. Some sealing and insulting efforts are costly – buying double-paned windows, insulating walls and ceilings, etc. The decision is yours – pay now to seal and insulate and then save on the reduced heating/cooling costs or pay through your monthly bills.
There are, however, many things that you can do yourself to seal your house. Get caulking and caulk any cracks that you see around door and window frames. Block cracks in floors and skirting boards. You can also add weatherstripping to seal doors and windows.
Don’t forget to insulate your radiator or furnace to keep it running at top efficiency.
Washing and Drying
Most areas of the country have sunlight for most of the year and you can make good use of that sunlight by line-drying your clothes. Even if there isn’t any sun, unless it’s raining or snowing you can air-dry your clothes so that they are somewhat drier and then put them into the drier for a reduced amount of time. Some analysts say that switching to line drying can reduce your energy bill by more than $25/month. You can further reduce your washing machine costs by running it on a 30-degree cycle instead of using a higher temperature.
When you’re washing your clothes, make sure that the machine is full in order to save on the energy used by the washing machine. Most clothes can be washed in cold water as well as hot water so switching to cold cycles can bring your bill down even more.
Keeping your shower time to just 4 minutes could save a typical household £95 (£90 in NI) a year on their energy bills.
Heating water is a significant drain on your home’s electricity but if you reduce your hot water usage, you’ll reduce your energy costs.
One thing that you can do is to shower instead of taking a bath. If you keep your showers to 4-minutes instead of filling up a bathtub you’ll save a good chunk of money.
There are a number of little things that you can do in the kitchen that, when they add up, will result in significant savings. Don’t overfill your electric kettle – just add as much water as you think that you’ll need and the kettle will boil faster and use less electricity. As with the washing machine, don’t run a half-full load in the dishwasher – fill it up to reduce the number of cycles.
Finally, insulate your hot water cylinder, tank and pipes so that it takes less energy to heat the water and keeps the water hotter for longer.