By Christina Krost
As summer temperatures rise and fossil fuel supplies fall, the burden of climate change and scarcity will land primarily on the poor, and eventually will come home to all of us. We must practice love and justice in the way we relate to our shared air, waters, lands, and all living things. We must be willing to make changes for a sustainable world. Being smart about energy use is one way we can help.
Here are 10 free or low-cost tips you can adopt to save energy and money in your own home:
1. Use your thermostat: Turning the temperature up by just a few degrees during the summer and turning it down during the winter are great strategies for putting your thermostat to work for your wallet.
2. Adapt to the temperature: Wearing a sweater at home during cold months and closing the shades against the sun during summer months will add to your comfort and savings.
3. Close unused air vents: If you have central air, you can close vents in rooms you're not using so that you're not paying to cool them.
4. Use the right bulb: Make sure you’re using the appropriate CFL/LED bulbs for your light ﬁxtures – they come in various sizes and types for different lighting needs.
5. Set your computer to sleep or hibernation mode: Set your computer to sleep or hibernate so that it uses less electricity during periods of inactivity. Turn it off to save even more.
6. Unplug electronics and chargers: Many chargers draw power continuously, even when the device is fully charged or not plugged into the charger. Also consider purchasing a smart energy strip; turn it off to cut power to “ghosting” energy on TVs or infrequently used electronic devices.
7. Always wash your clothes in cold water: Laundry detergent works just as well, and your energy savings could be as much as 40 cents per load.
8. Reduce your water heater temperature: Adjusting the temperature from 140 degrees to 120 degrees will save you money, reduce scalding risks, and prolong the life of your water heater, while keeping water hot enough for showers and cleaning dishes.
9. Ceiling fans: If you have ceiling fans in your house, use them properly. Fans should run counter clockwise in the summer and clockwise in the winter. Fans cool people, so turn off in unoccupied rooms.
10. Turn off your water heater while you’re away: If you plan on leaving home for several days, turn off or turn down your water heater and start it up again when you return. Most models will reheat the water.
Want to save even more money on your energy bills? Ask your utility about peak time rebate or hourly pricing programs. If you’re an Ameren customer, you can find out more about Peak Time Rewards here or Power Smart Pricing here. (Christina Krost is a member of the Pastoral Care and Counseling Board)