At Steelhead, we’re focused on using our individual efforts to create a better world. As many of us continue to work from home during the COVID-19 crisis, we’re sharing tips and tools that each of us can use to manage our energy use as the temperatures start to climb.
What does “saving energy” get us?
First of all, it saves money. Secondly, if your electricity or energy runs on fossil fuels, when you reduce your usage you reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to rising seas, higher temperatures, and melting Arctic ice.
So, how do you actually go about managing your own energy footprint? Here are a few tips.
1. Get Smart About Electronics
Heating and cooling uses a lot of energy. We can feel better about running our air conditioner during heat waves by making small changes for other types of energy use, including electronics.
Did you know that keeping your laptop plugged in all year uses the same amount of energy as running your coffee maker for 12 days straight?
When you’re not using electronics, make a point to turn them off or unplug them from power. Follow these tips:
- Put often-used office electronics or kitchen appliances on a single power strip and turn off the power strip at the end of the day.
- Unplug lamps, televisions, or other appliances in guest rooms or rooms that don’t get a lot of use.
- Turn off your office monitor at the end of the day, and put your computer into sleep or off mode when possible.
- Talk to kids and family members about turning off electronics.
2. Manage the Heat
When it’s 100 degrees or above, every small change makes a difference. Manage your air conditioning costs and energy with the following suggestions:
- Keep doors and windows closed and use shades whenever possible. Don’t run the air conditioning and open the screen door at the same time.
- Don’t run your dryer or oven while the sun is up. It will only add heat to your house.
- Change temperature settings when you leave the house, when the sun goes down, and when you go to sleep. Even a degree change will affect your bill and energy use.
- If possible, open windows at night, turn the air off, and then close the windows in the morning to keep cool air in.
3. Improve Efficiencies
Making small tweaks to existing systems can make a big difference in how well they work. Make sure your units, ducts, and vents are cleaned and working correctly.
- See if your air conditioner requires maintenance. Call the company and ask if a free efficiency check is included. If not, make sure filters are clean and check your manual for other ways to keep it running at optimal efficiency.
- Vacuum and clean around vents inside the house and make sure the outdoor unit is clear of debris and away from trees or plants.
- Reverse the direction of ceiling fans in the summer months. The airflow produced by running fans counterclockwise creates a wind-chill effect, making you "feel" cooler.
4. Water Practices
It’s important to be mindful of water use in the summer. Be sure you’re following these best practices with our scarce resource:
- Water plants, wash cars, or clean with water at nighttime to avoid evaporation.
- Cover your pool when you’re not using it.
- Only run a full dishwasher.
- Check your bills and watch for leaks.
We can all make a difference when we make small changes and consider our actions. What’s your favorite way to keep cool?
Eliza Erskine has a Master’s in Sustainability from the Harvard Extension School and a BA in Business Administration from Boston University. She founded Green Buoy Consulting in 2018 to help small and early stage businesses with sustainability. She grew up in the Pacific Northwest and lives in New York City.