Everyone wants their new year to be better than last year, and deciding to improve our lives and make the world a better place to live is certainly noble. But finding an easy place to start can be tricky. Fortunately, making an energy-saving resolution is easier to keep than some other goals and can lower household costs while improving the world a bit at the same time.
Here are a few 2018 energy resolutions to help spark savings in the new year.
Resolve to reduce phantom loads. Unplug unused chargers for cellphones, tablets, laptops, cameras, etc. Leaving them in the wall sucks a small trickle of energy even when they’re not charging. Cutting that wasted energy can add up over time and lower your bill. Or, if you prefer to leave them plugged in, use a smart power strip and cut power to one or all of them at once when they’re not in use.
Resolve to use smart strips. For less than $50, you can get a smart strip that will turn off all the equipment plugged into it when the main device isn’t being used. For example, plug all your computing equipment into one, and when the computer is off, the printer, scanner and monitor will be off too. Or for entertainment systems, when the TV is off, so is the gaming system, sound bar and DVD player.
Resolve to switch to LEDs. Lighting and appliances account for about a third of your energy costs, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Check around your home and count the number of incandescent bulbs you’re still burning. Prices for LEDs have dropped significantly in the last few years, and they have a very long lifespan. A pack of eight LEDs costs about $20. And, there are energy savings of around 40 percent to garner by swapping out the incandescent bulbs for LEDs. If you’re using CFL bulbs, bring them in to Clark Public Utilities when they burn out and exchange them for LEDs, two per household, per day.
Resolve to replace outdated appliances. Dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, and dryers you’ve had for more than 10-years old consume lots more energy than today’s models. If your appliances are past the decade-old mark, make plans now to choose energy efficient replacements when it’s time.
Resolve to replace that old thermostat. If you’re noticing high monthly bills, it might be time to consider upgrading to a smart thermostat. More sophisticated than programmable ones, smart thermostats learn your family’s lifestyle, preferences and schedule, then choose temperature cycles appropriate for your home. The utility offers a $50 rebate on the Nest Generation 3, NestE, Carrier Cor, the Ecobee-3 and -4. At big box stores, these models range between $170 at the low end for the Ecobee-3 to a high of $250 for the rest. The models qualifying for the utility rebate also connect to your smartphone so you can control your home temperature when you’re away from home.
Resolve to talk to an energy counselor, or request an energy review. If you don’t know where to start, or want to verify a decision you’re making, call a Clark Public Utilities energy counselor at 360-992-3355. The trained energy counselors are available Monday through Friday during business hours and can help you prioritize home improvements to maximize your energy savings. If you don’t know where to start, they can also help you determine which changes will make the biggest difference to improve comfort in your home and lower your energy bill, for example, upgrading your insulation, replacing your heating system, or offering other solutions for saving energy.
Energy Adviser is written by Clark Public Utilities. Send questions to email@example.com or to Energy Adviser, c/o Clark Public Utilities, P.O. Box 8900, Vancouver, WA 98668.