10 creative ways to save energy this winter
Rug up and turn down the thermostat setting, we’ve heard it all a hundred times before. These top 10 energy-saving tips are not so obvious, but are super easy.
1. Cook smart
Preparing your meals for the week in one hit will save you more than just time. You’ll also cut down on the extra energy you would have used heating up a cold oven every day.
As a bonus, all those pre-cooked meals will ensure your fridge and freezer are well stocked. When you open the fridge or freezer door, warm air gets into the empty spaces between items. The more empty space in your fridge, the more warm air gets in – and the harder it has to work to get the temperature down.
2. Switch your bulbs
There’s a lot to love about LED lights (short for light-emitting diode). Not only do they use at least 75% less energy than incandescent lighting, they also last 25 times longer.
3. Go off the boil
Bringing 1.25L of 18°C water to the boil uses the equivalent of around 120Wh – or enough energy to power two 60W light globes for two hours. Consider filling a thermos with boiling water at the start of the day rather than repeatedly flicking on the kettle.
Then again, maybe those piping hot cuppas aren’t as warming as you think. According to neuroscientist Peter McNaughton, when you sip on a steaming mug of tea or coffee, nerve receptors in your tongue send a warning to your body that something hot is coming, and you start sweating to cool down.
4. Don’t be a hermit
Going out to catch up with friends might be last thing you feel like doing, but according to scientists from the University of Toronto, lonely people might need to reach out to heat up. In their experiments, people who felt socially excluded gave lower estimates of room temperature and reported a greater desire for warm food and drink.
5. Hands off the hot tap
Your water heater uses energy to raise the water temperature, so remove the temptation to wash your hands with warm water by placing a plastic cup over the hot tap.
6. Lights on, lights off
Lights with motion sensors and timers can be an easy cost-cutting solution. Hallways in particular are a great place to install motion sensors, so the light only comes on when you need it.
7. Avoid peak hour
Most energy companies offer a heavily discounted rate during off-peak hours, typically between 11.00pm to 7.00am. If you can, set appliances with a timer to come on between these times.
8. Pump some iron
Exercise will get your blood pumping and raise your body temperature while you’re doing it – but building muscle can keep you warmer at rest, too. Muscle produces heat, so the more muscle you have, the lower your thermostat can go.
9. Say no to dishpan hands
You might think handwashing your dishes is the eco-friendly option, but most dishwashers use much less heated water than filling the sink. To save even more energy, only run your dishwasher with a full load and try to set it to come on during off-peak hours. Also, don’t bother pre-rinsing your dishes before loading them – it just wastes water and energy (including yours).
10. Save energy, $1 at a time
Instead of a swear jar, why not set up a ‘wasted energy jar’? Whenever someone in your house forgets to switch off the light when they exit a room, or leaves an appliance running, or has the thermostat turned up way too high (and so on), they have to drop $1 in the jar. This should stamp out any careless behaviour quick smart, and you can use the extra money you collect towards your energy bill. Or to pay for pizza, depending on your priorities.