Part I: 15 ways you can reduce your energy use (and your energy bill) without leaving your house

Hannah Collazo

Colorado Sierra Club and Environment Colorado have coauthored a 3-part blog series dedicated to helping families reduce their energy use and transition their home away from fossil fuels and toward electric power.

Public health and financial security are priorities as we brace for weeks of working from home, online schooling, business closures, and social distancing due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Coloradans are searching for ways to make the most of this challenging period while monitoring expenses nor leaving the house to ensure they are doing their part in flattening the curve.

As a result of an increased amount of time “sheltering in place,” we are using a lot more energy to power our homes, devices, and makeshift offices. Many of us are running that dishwasher more than we have in a while and throwing in that extra load of laundry that we would have let pile up just a month ago. While we continue making strides toward powering our communities with 100% clean renewable energy, the reality is that right now when you use energy in your home, you’re burning fossil fuels. In 2017, fossil fuel combustion inside U.S. homes and businesses produced 533 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, accounting for 8 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, more than half of all home energy usage currently comes from burning fossil fuels on-site.

To prevent air and water pollution and meet Colorado’s climate goals, we must move toward making our homes (and, when we get back to the office, commercial buildings) electric and more energy efficient.

While at home right now, here are 15 things you can do to reduce your energy consumption. This will definitely decrease your carbon footprint and save you money on your energy bill.

15 ways to reduce energy usage at home:

#1. Run the dishwasher only when it is full. By doing this, you could save more than 100 pounds of carbon dioxide pollution a year. If every Colorado household did this, we would take over 16,000 cars off the road a year.

#2. If you are getting up and down all day making sure your kids are working on their school assignment or getting another snack, turning off screensavers on your computer and television or putting your devices in low power mode when not in use will help decrease your energy consumption.

#3. Unplug your chargers when they aren’t in use. Plugged-in chargers draw energy even when they aren’t connected to a device.

#4. Skip the dryer. Consider line-drying or rack drying your clothes instead.

#5. When washing dishes in the dishwasher, skip heated dry and simply open the door at the end of the washing to let the dishes air dry. You can save up to 50% of the dishwasher’s energy by just opening the door.

Almost 20 percent of the energy used in a typical U.S. home goes to water heating.

#6. Turn your microwave off when not in use and turn down its brightness setting. The average microwave uses more power displaying the time in one year than it does heating your food.

#7. Lower your water heater temperature: in most households, 120 degrees is a sufficient temperature to heat water.

#8. If you have a second refrigerator, stop using it and unplug it. Consolidate food into one fridge.

#9.Open your shades if it’s cold out to let the sun warm your home

#10. Facebook and Instagram are covered with pictures of the food people are baking with all this extra time at home. Avoid peeking in the oven while baking! Every time you peek, the temperature can drop 25 degrees Fahrenheit, making your oven use more energy to bring the temperature back up.

#11. Use natural light when possible.

#12. Turn off the lights when they’re not in use. Lighting accounts for about 12 percent of a typical residential utility bill.

#13. Use an electric power strip for electronic equipment that you can easily turn on and off when not in use. Over the course of a year, electronics will
use more energy in “standby mode” than they do when you are using them.

#14. Turn off the oven or stove a few minutes before cooking time runs out. Your food will continue to cook without using the extra electricity.

#15 Adjust the thermostat only to the desired temperature. Your home won’t heat or cool faster by cranking it up.

Want to print or share this checklist with your family and friends? 


Hannah Collazo