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21 Ways to Conserve Energy, The Planet, & Your Hard-Earned Dough

Jenny Bell

Looking for the best ways to conserve energy at home

Energy conservation is a hot topic. The cost of living crisis and soaring fuel and energy costs mean that more people want to know how to save on energy bills. 

Whatever your motivation, saving energy is a big win for the planet. Residential energy use accounts for approximately 20% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.

While that’s still a far cry from the 71% of total global emissions produced by just 100 companies, it’s not nothing. 

Reducing your energy consumption is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint at home. 

Learning how we can conserve energy as everyday people is a solid place to start creating more demand for sustainable energy solutions—by demanding less electricity in general, of course.

How To Save Energy In The Home

The best thing about energy conservation is that it needn’t cost a penny, but it will save you pounds. 

Given rising costs paired with more frequent extreme weather events, it’s no wonder more people wondering about how to save money on energy bills.

Fortunately, we can use less energy by simply changing a few of our daily habits and ticking off some regular maintenance chores. 

From easy-to-implement energy-savers in the kitchen, to DIY insulation tips to reduce heating costs, our list of ideas will have you conserving energy in no time. 

There are also small investments we can make to save electricity, like switching to energy-saving bulbs and using a smart power strip. We’ll look at those too. 

So, what are some simple ways to conserve energy?

Power up (or rather power down) your engine and let’s flicker through some energy-saving tips.

No-Cost Ways to Save Energy

1. Turn Down The Thermostat

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Heating and cooling costs are the biggest outlay for homes, so using less energy for these comes first in our lesson on how to conserve energy at home.

Heating costs make up approximately 29% of your utility bill—so one of the best energy conservation practices is to simply turn down your heating thermostat.

According to British Gas, by turning your thermostat down just one degree, you could cut your heating costs by around 10% (saving up to £145 per year for an average 3-bedroom house in the UK).

2. Use Air Conditioning Equipment Less

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Still on the subject of your heating and cooling system, minimizing or doing away with the use of your air conditioning during the warmer months is another solid way to significantly cut your home energy costs. 

Air conditioners account for approximately 6% of all electricity generated in the United States, so learning how to save money with an AC can make a big difference to your electricity bill. 

What are some ways to conserve energy with an air conditioner?

As with heating, installing a programmable thermostat helps to ensure the AC is only running when you need it to.

Another way to reduce air conditioner costs is to plant trees and shrubs around your home. This can cut costs by up to 25% and is a great way to increase biodiversity.

3. Check Fridges and Freezers

Speaking of cooling, fridges and freezers are two of the most energy-intensive appliances, accounting for approximately 12% of total energy bills.

There are four ways to conserve energy when it comes to fridges and freezers:

  • Check what temperature they are set at. The recommended temperature for a refrigerator is 35 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit and freezers should be kept at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • To keep them from working any harder than necessary, keep fridges and freezers in a cool place, away from radiators, ovens, direct sunlight, and other heat sources. There should be a gap of a few inches on the sides, back, and top. 
  • Carry out regular maintenance. Make sure to keep condenser coils free of dust and debris by cleaning the back of your appliances regularly. Defrost your freezer every 6 months for optimum energy efficiency. 
  • Check the door seals are airtight. If the seal isn’t fully working, air can escape and your appliances will need to work harder to keep cool. This means you shouldn’t stand there with the door open staring mindlessly wondering what to boredom eat, either.

4. Replace Air Filters

This one’s not entirely free, but it is a maintenance task rather than investing in something new. A stitch in time saves nine! 

Carrying out regular maintenance checks on your air conditioning and heating equipment and replacing the filter regularly helps ensure that your system is running efficiently 

You can reduce the energy consumption of your A/C unit by 5% to 15% simply by keeping the filter clean. 

The same goes with furnaces and electric space heaters. If not already equipped with a filter, you can buy some inexpensive carbon filter sheets and create your own pre-filter. Just be sure you’re not actually blocking or hindering the air intake, as this can damage the system, too.

5. Dial Down The Water Heater

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So that you don’t get into hot water with your hot water—at least in terms of energy waste—try the following energy conservation tips: 

  • Dial down the temperature of your water heater from 140ºF to 120ºF. This can save up to $461 a year.
  • Make sure to invest in an energy-efficient water heater when your old one needs replacing. 
  • In the meantime, use an insulating jacket for your old water heater to help reduce costs. This is especially useful if you’re looking for how to conserve energy during a winter storm, as extra cold ambient temperatures can quickly cool all that water the boiler worked so hard to heat.
  • If you have a combi boiler, turning off the preheat setting will save energy (but not water).
  • If you’re going out of town for any extended period of time, turn off the water heater so it isn’t needlessly heating water that won’t get used.

6. Beware The Phantom Load

The amount of energy used by appliances left on stand-by might give you a bit of fright.

Computers, game consoles, TV’s, appliances (such as blenders all use energy when left plugged in) and even eco chargers—to the tune of $200 a year!

That means the near effortless act of unplugging something after use is easily one of the best ways to reduce energy consumption.

The use of smart power strips (see below) is a handy way to ensure that your tech is only switched on when it needs to be.

7. Insulation Over Heating

Savvy use of insulation can help save energy by reducing your heating and cooling costs—hello, cheaper electricity bills—not to mention being one of the best ways to conserve fossil fuels that power our heating sources.

Investing in increased insulation and energy-efficient windows do require an initial outlay, but there are also ways to save energy that needn’t cost you any extra. For instance, closing the curtains when it gets dark results in a 15% reduction in heat loss. 

In winter, keeping the curtains open on south-facing windows during the day, allows passive solar energy to heat up your home—just make sure to close them again at night. Do the reverse in summer. 

Investing in organic curtains for your windows and a non-toxic rug for your floor provides insulation for the areas of the home most prone to gather or lose heat (depending on season).

Don’t forget to insulate yourself with sustainable sweaters!

8. Deal With Drafts

Managing hot and cold air leaks—i.e. keeping hot air in and cool air out in the winter and vice-versa in the summer—is a key way to conserve electricity at home and cut heating expenses.

Weatherstripping is a low-cost solution for doors and windows. For a completely free, eco-solution, have a go at making your own draft stoppers.

If you’ve been wondering what to do with old socks, a homemade draft excluder can help you sustainably repurpose old clothes and tick that energy-saving box at the same time.

9. Wash Laundry On Cold

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If it’s not dirty, wash at 30”.

Lowering the temperature on your eco-friendly washing machine is an easy way to save electricity—and the planet. You could save up to 40% on your energy bills. 

According to tests run by Which, changing the temperature from 40°C (104°F) to 30°C (86°F) saved 38% of the energy, and dropping to 20°C (68°F) saved 62%.

Combined with using an eco-friendly laundry detergent, dialing down your machine’s temperature is a quick and dirty way to green your laundry routine and save energy in your home.

10. Line Dry Instead Of Dryer

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If you’re looking for one of the biggest bangs for your buck when it comes to how to save home energy costs, consider that tumble dryers are one of the most expensive appliances to run. 

Make use of the sun’s free drying power by hanging out your laundry to dry—or if you haven’t got an outside space, hang them up near an open window or other well-ventilated area (to avoid accumulating moisture indoors). 

If you do use a dryer, using natural wool dryer balls creates gaps between the clothes, helping the air to circulate better and saving energy.

Vegan dryer balls are available if you’d prefer to avoid animal products.

Be sure to also clean your lint trap after every load, as too much build-up can make the dryer work harder to vent, consuming more energy.

11. Use Full Loads

Due to the power needed to both heat the water and run the appliance itself, wet appliances (dishwashers and washing machines) are responsible for 14% of an average home’s electricity bill, making them the hungriest home appliances. 

In addition to dialing down the temperature, make sure you’re only turning them on for a full load each time. 

If you use reusable diapers, have a read of our how to wash cloth nappies article to find out how to keep soiled diapers fresh while waiting for a full load to build up.

When it’s time to replace your old machines, look for eco-friendly appliances with maximum rated energy-efficiency that will help curb your energy and water consumption.

12. Take Shorter Showers

Did you know that electric showers guzzle electricity?

Before you duck behind your eco-friendly shower curtain, set a timer. A 4-minute shower could save £95 a year.

For the ultimate energy-saving shower, you could go full Wim Hoff and start taking cold showers—though we also understand if this isn’t your ideal answer for how to reduce energy consumption!

13. Go Old School & Do Chores Manually

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Performing household tasks manually can reduce total energy consumption. 

Grab a broom and eco-friendly mop for your hard floors instead of reaching for the vacuum cleaner. Using an old-fashioned dustpan and brush not only saves you energy, but you can add those crumbs and dust bunnies to your compost.

You can’t compost the contents of your hoover bag due to synthetic carpet fibers and who knows what else.

As already mentioned, you can hang your laundry out to dry instead of using the dryer, and if you only have a few items of laundry but need them washed ASAP, hand wash them instead of doing a small load.

14. Use A Dishwasher

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When it comes to washing your dirty dishes, there’s an exception to the “do chores manually” advice. 

Compared to handwashing, dishwashers use less energy and less water, so put those rubber gloves away and let this appliance take care of cleaning your eco-friendly dinnerware.

There are three ways to conserve energy when using a dishwasher. 

  • Be sure to fill it to capacity before turning it on.
  • Use the “eco-setting” if you have one. 
  • Turn off your dishwasher before the drying cycle, open the door, and let residual heat do the work instead. This can save 15% of dishwasher energy use. 

Don’t forget the eco-friendly dishwasher tablets. They won’t reduce your energy load, but they will reduce a load of plastic waste.

15. Turn Things Off Or Down When Going Away

It might sound obvious, but making sure all appliances and electronic equipment are turned off and unplugged before you leave for a trip can cut that phantom load, ensuring that you’re only consuming energy when you need to.

While it can be dangerous to shut off all heat in colder months (you don’t want to risk freezing pipes), a programmable thermostat can make sure the heating and cooling system isn’t using unnecessary electricity.

16. Be Savvy In The Kitchen

Here are ten ways to conserve energy in your zero waste kitchen

  • Use the right size stove ring for the size of your pan.
  • Use stackable steamers.
  • Keep lids on pans when cooking.
  • Use an eco-kettle and only fill it with the amount of water you need.
  • Join the Crock Pot cult and batch cook a week’s worth of meals to save on energy. 
  • Cool food before refrigerating leftovers so you don’t warm your fridge.
  • Defrost food in the fridge overnight or in a cool water bath instead of using a microwave.
  • Don’t leave appliances on standby.
  • Minimize the number of times you open the oven door to check on the food.

How To Conserve Energy With (Small) Investments

17. Get An Energy Monitor

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In order to really get a handle on your energy usage and understand the hungriest appliances, it’s a good idea to buy an energy monitor if you don’t have one already. 

Some types give an “in-use” reading, so you can see exactly how much energy different appliances use. 

They can also give you a snapshot of how much energy you’ve used over the past week or month, so you can track your habits and improve them.

18. Switch To LED Lights

Combined with sustainable lighting fixtures, energy-efficient light bulbs create a well-lit ambiance that doesn’t compromise the future of our planet. 

If you haven’t already, carry out an inventory of your lightbulbs and check that they are all LED. Short for “light emitting diode bulbs”, LEDs consume 75% less electricity and last up to 25% longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.

Opt for the lowest wattage possible and buy from reputable brands that make high-quality LED light bulbs that will last. 

Don’t forget to maximize natural lighting and switch off lights when you leave the room.

19. Invest In Energy-Efficient Appliances

When you need to replace old appliances, opt for ENERGY STAR EPA-approved products.

Thanks to the EnergyGuide label, you can find out the yearly energy running cost of each appliance, making it easier to find energy-efficient alternatives.

20. Use Smart Power Strips

Eliminate wasteful energy with a smart power strip

As mentioned above, “phantom load” or “vampire energy” (the amount of energy used by appliances when left on standby) can add a significant amount to your energy bills.

Although modern energy-efficient appliances and devices draw less energy in the form of a phantom load, the resulting energy waste still adds up.

Employing the help of a smart power strip is one of the easiest ways of conserving energy at home. Just hit one button and cut the power to multiple devices.

21. Use Solar Power

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Installing solar panels isn’t a small investment, but if you are in a position to do it, it’s possibly the best solution for energy savings in the long term—especially if there are government incentives like loans or tax breaks where you live. 

So they save energy, but are solar panels sustainable?

Despite some concerns regarding raw materials, manufacturing practices and recyclability, solar panels are an effective solution to cutting down on GHG emissions—especially if paired with these other tips and ways to conserve solar energy.

If you have high energy bills and can locate panels for maximum solar gain, it’s an avenue worth exploring.

For a smaller step in the solar direction, have a look at portable solar panels for powering devices on the move.

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Why Should We Conserve Energy

Saving energy and saving the planet go hand in hand. Less energy = less impact on the environment. 

By conserving energy at home, we can help tackle the climate crisis (by curbing the amount of greenhouse gasses released into the atmosphere), decrease pollution, and lessen dependence on finite resources (natural gas, oil, and coal). 

In the US, fossil fuels remain the primary source of energy for generating electricity, so you can think of these tips as ways to conserve coal and other dirty, non-renewable resources.

Anything we can do to prevent energy wastage is a step in the right direction.

It’s good for our sustainable wallet, too. With rocketing energy (and other) costs, there’s never been a better time to implement energy-saving practices.

Final Thoughts On How To Conserve Energy

From apartment composting to zero waste cleaning rituals, there are plenty of ways to bring more sustainable living practices into our homes. 

In addition to switching to a renewable energy provider, practicing energy conservation at home is one way we can all help to curb GHG emissions 

Looking at how to conserve energy in your home is also an important part of sustainable interior design

Designing for energy efficiency can include maximizing the use of natural light, choosing energy-efficient products and appliances, and considering insulation in the form of floor coverings and window dressings. 

We can think about these energy conservation tips when giving our homes an eco-friendly spruce-up, but don’t forget the simple everyday tweaks, too, like turning down those thermostats, washing laundry on cold, and taking shorter showers.

If you’ve caught your friends staring at their monthly energy bill in distress, muttering, “How can I conserve energy?”, pass this article along so they can learn some practical ways to conserve energy and save money at once (or should we say ohms?).

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