Energy Tips For Winter
The average household uses around 40% more energy in the winter than it does in the summer months – the central heating is switched on, we require artificial light earlier in the day, we (and the kids) are generally inside more, which means more TV usage, and so on…
The economics of inefficiency (or waste), in almost any field, generally means a higher level of wastage as usage increases, i.e. we can make much larger energy savings in the winter months than we can in the summer!
With the above in mind, we’ve put together six tips to help lower energy usage this winter:
We’ll start with the most obvious; there is simply no excuse for leaving a light on when one is not in the room – lighting accounts for 5 to 10 per cent of the energy usage in our home. Be proactive and come down hard on the culprits (for me its my eldest son). Be as anal as you reasonably can – oven lights, lights beneath the cooker, porch lights, even some security lights have interval timers that can be reduced.
Central heating systems vary so it’s difficult to give general guidelines. As a rule of thumb, maintaining a moderate level of heat is preferred to short blasts of intense usage. Avoid portable heaters where possible, these consume roughly 8 times the amount of energy used by a standard desktop display monitor.
A little obvious perhaps, but one can reduce the need for artificial heating by simply wrapping up warm… Jumpers, slippers, thicker socks or an extra duvet sheet can make all the difference.
Ok, so you can’t switch the computer off every time you leave your desk for an hour or so, in fact, doing this actually increases usage due to the extra resources required to reboot the machine (in most cases). But you can make the most of the built in power savings – for mac users click ‘SYSTEM PREFERENCES > ENERGY SAVING’, and for PC you can find the power configurations in your control panel. Set the ‘Computer Sleep’ and ‘Display Sleep’ to the shortest amount of time you can tolerate (for me, 10 minutes for ‘Display Sleep’ is more than enough, and I set ‘Computer Sleep’ at 30 minutes).
4. Curtains & Blinds
Keeping these closed during the winter months will add an extra layer of installation to your windows (typically the ‘weak spot’ in terms of home insulation). However, if the sun is shining, keep them open. Use them wisely!
Also, try to avoid using windows to control the temperature of a room. If your heating is too high, turn it down; avoid the temptation of letting cold air into the room as a short fix.
5. Exhaust fans
Many bathrooms are fitted with exhaust fans that are programmed to activate for a set period whenever the light is switched on. Of course, on occasions this is very much necessary, but a quick trip to the bathroom usually does not require such functionality… Not only does the exhaust fan use power itself, it actually removes the precious warm air from your bathroom.
Investing in a separate exhaust switch will pay for itself in no time!
6. Educate yourself
There’s a wealth of information and statistics at the energy.gov website, covering everything from how your home loses energy through to energy saving devices and products. There’s also numerous green energy booklets and information packs throughout the web that can help you lead a more energy efficient lifestyle (if you’d like to learn more, you can visit our green energy section to read detailed reviews of green energy products that we recommend).
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