How Can I Help My Family Conserve Energy at Home?
7 Tips for Lowering Energy Usage Around the House
Sure, everyone wants to use less energy at home in hopes of lowering your energy bills, but it’s easier said than done. In fact, we feel that the two biggest challenges facing any family who wants to lower their energy bills are as follows:
- Educating everyone on the importance of saving energy; and
- Getting everyone to actually use less energy
We don’t want to discourage you from conserving energy at home, but we do want to be upfront with you. The more people you have in your family, the larger your abode will be and the more energy everyone will use. And the more people you have using energy around your home, the harder it’s going to be to ensure that everyone participates in your energy-saving methods.
Thankfully, you can help your family conserve energy around the home, and it starts with the aforementioned education.
Education – Building the Foundation to Help Energy-Saving Tips Succeed
This is by no means a suggestion to create a multi-page PowerPoint presentation and then teach your family about energy conservation one evening at dinner. It is a recommendation that you talk to your family about why saving energy is important to you, why it should be important to them, and how it impacts the world around us – both the present and the future.
Your overall approach to presenting your case depends upon the age and attitude of your family.
If it’s just you and other adults (whether it’s your partner, roommates, or parents), statistics showing how much money you could save should do the trick, even without dipping into any “It’s good for the Earth” arguments.
If you need to convince young kids, you can go straight for the “It’s good for the Earth” conversation, as smaller children are more likely to consider that behavior to be good on its face.
If you need to convince teenagers, you can start with the responsible global citizen reasoning, but you can also toss in a bit of “If we save energy, we can save money, which means we can spend that money doing fun things” to sweeten the deal.
If you live in a multi-generational house, you will have to use a combination of all three tactics.
What matters is that you know your family best, which means you have the best grasp on what will truly win people over to your side.
Practical Tips for Lowering Energy Usage Around the Home
Once you’ve convinced them that energy conservation is a worthwhile goal, you can begin to implement our collection of tips. We recommend starting with one or two and only moving to others once the originals become habits, because the easiest way for your conservation ideas to fall out of favor around the home is to attempt too much change at once.
#1 Reduce Water Usage
This ranges from trading baths for showers and taking shorter showers, to using the energy saving setting on your dishwasher and beyond, using less water is a tangible way to model energy conservation.
#2 Reduce Your Heating and Cooling Costs – thermostat, laundry, etc.
Real Talk: The Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning unit that cools you off in the summer and keeps you warm in the winter comprises the largest percentage of energy usage in your home. So, the more you can help that unit use energy effectively, the better off you’ll be. This includes:
- Setting the thermostat on appropriate seasonal temperatures
- Inspecting your HVAC unit twice a year
- Investing in a programmable thermostat
- Using heavy appliances either early in the morning or after 8pm
- Washing your clothes in cold water
- Lowering the setting on your hot water heater
- Using fans to circulate air
#3 Turn Off Lights
A tried-and-true tactic for teaching a young family, turning off the lights is literally a visible sign that your energy conservation methods are having an impact. While this doesn’t mean you have to sit in the dark (though you can opt to keep the lights off when possible and use natural light instead), it does mean that you keep the lights off in rooms that your family isn’t using at the time.
#4 Replace Your Old Light Bulbs with Modern LEDs
Thanks to the new technology powering LED lights, all of the old arguments against them are pointless. Not only do they use less energy and create less heat, but they create plenty of light for the room, and they are reasonably priced and super-durable. As in, you could probably replace all of your lights in your home at once and experience the benefits of the decision immediately.
#5 Turn Off Electronics
Another instant winner in the “Teaching Your Kids How to Make a Difference” category, by encouraging your children to turn off anything and everything electronic after they finish using it, you’re showing them the importance of energy conservation without badgering them constantly about their devices.
#6 Use Power Strips
Your electronic devices use power whenever they’re plugged in, even if they’re turned off, thanks to something called “Phantom Load.” By plugging all your electronic devices into a single power strip (or two), you can flip one switch with ease to save energy, instead of unplugging and plugging in every single device every single day.
#7 Home Improvement Projects
Not everyone is a Do-It-Yourself aficionado, but everyone is capable of completing even the smallest of projects, especially when it comes to energy conservation. And yes, some of these definitely come with an upfront financial investment, but the money you save with these projects will outweigh the costs.
- Clean the house by removing dust and lint from appliances
- Replace the air filters for your HVAC unit
- Install fresh weatherstripping around your external doors
- Install fresh caulk around your windows
- Check your HVAC ductwork
- Install heavy curtains on your windows
- Add an aerator to your faucets
- Install low-flow showerheads
- Purchase and install ENERGY STAR appliances
Strategies for Ensuring Conservation Success
Much like how you finally helped people buy into conserving energy at home, the steps you choose to take depend upon what you feel will work best for your family. If you want to see success, you should set them up for success!
If there’s one thing that’s worked for our family in the past, it’s making a game of the whole endeavor. Our favorite one involves tracking how much a family saves on energy costs during a specific stretch of time and then giving the family a reward for their efforts. This actively encourages teamwork, and it gives people something specific to work toward, which in turn enhances the experience for everyone.
Good luck with your conservation efforts. We believe in you!