Tuesday, August 4, 2020
Aug. 4, 2020

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Energy Adviser: Change habits to conserve energy

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Unless your favorite hobby is reading by candlelight, you’ve probably been using more electricity in the last few months than you would have if a global pandemic weren’t underway.

Whether working remotely, spending more time than usual indoors, or a combination of the two–being home more often will almost inevitably lead to greater energy consumption.

A household doesn’t have to be resigned to a life of higher energy bills. With a little behavioral awareness and proactivity, you can lower your energy consumption without sacrificing comfort–no investments needed.

“Your monthly home energy bill is more than a statement of what’s owed to the utility, it’s also a record of your consumption habits,” said Clark Public Utilities Energy Services Supervisor DuWayne Dunham. “Think of it like a baseline and challenge yourself and your household to reduce your energy use.”

Start your energy savings journey by first taking stock of your patterns and those of the people in your household. Do you have a habit of leaving things on, taking long, hot showers, or having several lights on? Are there some appliances that are used most of the day? How often is your household doing laundry?

On their own, none of those actions consume much electricity, but they all add up surprisingly fast. Fortunately, making small changes to each of those daily habits adds up as well, and with enough practice, they can noticeably reduce the home’s monthly energy bill.

This time of year we’re blessed with sunshine well into the evening hours. Use it to your advantage, skip the light switch and open up the curtains to allow the natural light into your home whenever possible.

However, on those really hot summer days, it’s best to keep the shades on the southern and western sides of your home closed and thus, the sun’s warming rays out. Remember, in Southwest Washington the heat of the day comes between 3 and 6 p.m.

Speaking of warm days, get in the habit of opening and shading windows around the high and low temperatures of the day to maximize comfort and reduce reliance on air conditioning. If you do use the AC, set it to 76 degrees or higher to stay comfortable and reduce energy demands.

Taking shorter and cooler showers can help you stay cool and help lower your energy bill, if your home has an electric water heater.

Laundry can consume a surprising amount of electricity. Do the largest loads possible and use only cold water. When it’s time to dry, hang the laundry rather than sticking it in the dryer. No space for a clothes line? No problem, clothes horses cost little and are widely available.

You can also keep your home cool and your energy bill down by cooking outdoors or making more salads. This summer is the perfect time to get takeout, or delivery — you’ll skip the stove and support local restaurants.

These days we’re all using more electronics than ever. Many of the gadgets we use don’t fully shutdown when we hit the power button or close them. You can find some savings in your bill by fully shutting down computers, and unplugging them and other electronics, including gaming consoles, when they’re not in use. Also check if your appliances can be set to energy saving mode.

The more people in the household that get involved, the greater the opportunities to save. Energy waste knows no age limits, making it a great opportunity to teach kids about electricity and conservation.

Energy Adviser is written by Clark Public Utilities. Send questions to ecod@clarkpud.com or to Energy Adviser, c/o Clark Public Utilities, P.O. Box 8900, Vancouver, WA 98688.

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