10 Easy and Free Ways to Save Energy

Going Green Series: Saving Energy

The two main issues I have with many of the campaigns to go green is that 1) there is too much focus on what we must buy to save the environment and 2) the misperception that we must make huge lifestyle changes to make an impact. Going green can mean many things to different people, but I don’t know many that wouldn’t want to save money while also helping the environment.

Going Green SeriesIn this installment of the Going Green Series, I am going to tackle a few simple ways to save energy at home that will have an impact on your energy costs and impact on the demand for fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas.

If you don’t like the way the world is, you change it. You have an obligation to change it. You just do it one step at a time.” ~  Marian Wright Edelman


Top Ten Easy and Free Ways to Save Energy

1. Turn down the thermostat. Try keeping your home a few degrees cooler during the day starting one degree at a time. 66º F is very doable, especially when you layer your clothing. Turn it down even more at night and really see the savings!

2. Turn down your water heater thermostat. Most homes only need a water heater set to 120º F, and you may have already turned it down to this if you have children to avoid risk of scalding. Each 10º drop in temperature will save you around 5% in energy costs.

3. Unplug anything not in use. Small appliances and chargers still consume energy even when “turned off.” If you unplug what is not in use, you can reduce that phantom load and save up to 10% in energy costs.

4. Turn off the lights when you leave a room. This tip has been around probably as long as there has been electricity and yet we still seem to have trouble remembering. You can save 22,000 watts of energy per year by just switching off one regular bulb for one hour every day. Think of how much you can save by doing even more!

5. Take shorter showers. Dropping the time you spend in the shower will save both water and the energy to heat that water.

6. Wash clothes in cold water. According to the Department of Energy, water heating is the third most energy consuming task in the home. Many laundry detergents now work just as well in cold water as warm or hot.

7. Hang clothes to dry. Clothes dryers may use up to 6% of a typical household’s energy usage. Give a clothesline a try for at least some of our loads of laundry. When the sun comes back, it is a great natural disinfectant too!

8. Clean lint filters in clothes dryer. For all those times you do still use the dryer, remember to keep the lint traps clean. A dirty lint filter is inefficient and can use an additional 30% more energy to get your laundry dry.

9. Turn off the heat dry option on your dishwasher and let your dishes air-dry. When running a full load of dishes, you can save up to 15-50% of your energy costs by letting the dishes air-dry.

10. Clean the refrigerator. Keeping your refrigerator clean underneath, inside, the bottom front grill, and the coils can improve efficiency by as much as 30 percent. Keeping it well maintained by checking the seal, the temperature, keeping it full, and closed whenever possible can save even more.

It can be fun to ask your children for help with many of these tasks. Let them run about the house looking for lights to turn off or appliances that need to be unplugged. They will be better off for understanding how to save energy.

Do you have a favorite tip to save energy (and money)? Will you start using one of my top ten?

If you enjoyed this post, I’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook. And keep coming back for more in the Going Green Series!


10 Easy and Free Ways to Save Energy — 12 Comments

  1. I have to clean my fridge? He-he. Oh, that is my least favorite chore. Really though, the one area I would like to do better with is the clothes dryer. I have always wanted a clothes line out back, but have not made that happen yet. Perhaps this summer…

    • Luckily cleaning the fridge (and behind and underneath!) only has to be every once in a while to be effective. :)

      I was always good about sun-drying the cloth diapers, but I want to have a big line to do a whole lot more clothes, sheets, and towels! Everything smells so delicious when dried in the sun.

  2. I didn’t even know that a heat dry option way existing but I found it on my device. Cool tip and definitly not one of the most common.

    One little thing I have to add: Think about your air conditioner!
    Everything that adjusts temperature consumes very high amounts of energy so keep your air conditioner off or at least as low as possible.

    • Definitely, air conditioners use a lot of energy in the warm months! I am glad that we live in an area that doesn’t really need an air conditioner, but that certainly isn’t the case for other parts of the country.

  3. We keep our heater set at 60 and our AC set at 78 in the summer. We save so freaking much money!!! I wear fuzzy warm PJ pants, socks & slippers and a hoodie in the winter and shorts and a T in the summer while lounging around the house. This obviously wouldn’t work if we had children, but it’s GREAT for right now. We also have the AC turned off for around 4 months a year…loooove.

  4. I found a drying rack for $2(!!!) at a garage sale and I’ve been using the snot out of it for our shirts and pants. We can’t outside line dry because of the gale force red dirt blowing winds (seriously, small airplanes blow over at the airport on a fairly frequent bases bc of them) and HUGE spider colonies (hate, hate, hate). Do you think I can hang dry my towels inside without them getting sour? How do you line dry underware and socks? Just hang up the billion pieces? Teach me, please!

    • That’s great! Repurposing something like that is a great way to save money and reduce waste.

      I really struggle to get my towels to dry well indoors because of the humidity. If you live in an arid climate you might be just fine. Especially if you can move them around the house to a sunlit window or other heat source. Using a vinegar rinse in the laundry might help too, but it may not be necessary for most things. Hanging the unmentionables is incredibly time consuming, but it can be done! Let me know how it goes. :)

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