You already know how lingering global supply chain issues and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have caused a spike in oil and natural gas prices in the U.S.
While prices are falling at the gas pump, it won't be easy to reduce home energy usage and costs this winter. Many utility companies have informed customers that their monthly electricity and natural gas bills may more than double. And some are warning that if consumers don’t significantly reduce energy consumption during peak usage periods their town or region may be subject to short-term blackouts.
While there are more expensive measures you can take to improve energy efficiency, such as replacing an old furnace with a newer, more energy efficient model, insulating your home or installing solar panels on your roof, there are a number of measures you can take right now that require very little or no money at all.
1. Shut down unused energy-drainers
Many people leave their computers and monitors on all the time. But there’s no reason to keep these technologies running at full power when you’re not using them for extended periods of time.
Use their power-saving features to put these devices into “sleep” mode at night or during the day when you’re at work. Better yet, consider shutting them off altogether. Contrary to common perceptions, turning these devices on and off doesn’t reduce their lifespan.
2. Switch off power strips
Most of us use power strips to connect devices designed to work together, like computers, monitors and printers. Or TVs, videogame consoles, cable boxes, A/V receivers and soundbars.
But even when these devices are switched off they're still using electricity. According to Energy Star, 75% of the energy used by electronic devices is consumed when these devices are turned off. Shutting off or unplugging power strips when you’re not using them can eliminate a huge source of “vampire energy” usage.
3. Invest in smart energy devices
If you’re still manually adjusting temperatures in your home using an old-fashioned round thermostat, consider upgrading to a “smarter” alternative. These smart thermostats, which often cost less than $100, let you control the temperature manually or set up daily or weekly schedules for adjusting temperatures higher or lower during the day and while you’re asleep or away.
Many of these thermostats can also be controlled through your mobile devices so you can adjust them while you’re on vacation or at work.
Also consider a small investment in smart plugs or power strips. A downloadable app lets you schedule when each smart plug or power strip provides power to plugged in devices. Energy-Star compliant smart plugs draw a maximum of 1 watt of power in standby mode, compared to up to 50 watts of vampire power that devices plugged into standard outlets use even when they’re turned off.
Some companies offer a lineup of fully integrated smart thermostats, plugs and power strips that can all be controlled from a single app, providing an easy way for you to choose when and how energy is used throughout your home.
Other low-tech energy-saving tips
There are many other ways you can reduce consumption of electricity, oil and natural gas that don’t require an investment in high-tech devices. These include:
- Lowering the temperature of your hot water heater.
- Increasing temperature settings in your refrigerator and freezer from “coldest” to “cold.”
- Covering pots on your stove to reduce the time it takes to boil water.
- Scheduling annual maintenance on your furnace and replacing the filter several times during the winter to improve efficiency.
- Choosing shorter operational cycles on dishwashers, washing machines and dryers.
- Removing fully charged smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices from charging cables and stations when you’re not using them.
If you’re looking for additional ways to reduce your energy footprint, consider contacting your utility company. Some may send you energy-saving lightbulbs and offer rebates on certain energy-efficient devices.
This article was authored by Joelle Spear and Jeffrey Briskin. Joelle is a financial advisor and Partner located at Canby Financial Advisors, 161 Worcester Road, Framingham, MA 01701. She offers securities and advisory services as an Investment Adviser Representative of Commonwealth Financial Network®, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. She can be reached at 508.598.1082 or email@example.com. Jeffrey Briskin is Director of Marketing at Canby Financial Advisors.
©2023 Canby Financial Advisors.