Wednesday, March 22, 2023
March 22, 2023

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Energy Adviser: Easy ways to save money, energy

The Columbian

New Year’s resolutions are a controversial thing. Some people swear by them, while others swear them off entirely. Anyone who’s tried them knows it’s hard to make them stick.

Whatever your past experience, consider one of the easiest and most rewarding resolutions you can make—resolving to consume and waste less energy this year. It can be as easy as flipping a switch. The benefits start right away and you’ll smile when see your energy bills shrink.

Here are a few ways to get started:

Resolve to turn off what you’re not using. Leave the lights on when you leave a room, even just for a few minutes? Have electronics resting in “standby” or “sleep” mode? Leave the TV on, even if you’re not watching? All those things can add up to a surprising amount of wasted energy. When you shut them off, you’re immediately lowing your household energy expenses.

You can make it even easier on yourself by automating the process. For less than $50, you can get a smart power strip that will turn off everything 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 too is the gaming system and stereo.

Resolve to cut phantom loads. Unplug unused chargers for cellphones, tablets, laptops, etc. Even if they’re not connected to a device, they still pull a small trickle of energy. Unplugging them stops energy from being wasted and can lower your bill. If you prefer to leave them plugged in, consider the aforementioned smart power strip.

Resolve to upgrade your lights. Check around your home and remove any incandescent bulbs you find. LEDs are cheap and they have a very long lifespan. The energy savings is around 40 percent when you swap out incandescent bulbs for LEDs, and even better than compact fluorescent bulbs. Be sure to properly dispose of CFLs.

Resolve to replace outdated appliances. Dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers and washing machines that are more than 10-years old consume much more energy than today’s models. If your appliances are older than that, make plans now to upgrade to energy efficient replacements.

Resolve to replace that old thermostat, or program your current one. Upgrading to a smart thermostat is a smart choice. Smart thermostats learn your family’s lifestyle, preferences and schedule, then choose temperature cycles appropriate for you. They can also save energy over time by optimizing your home energy use. Clark Public Utilities offers a $50 rebate for qualifying smart thermostats.

Resolve to get everyone involved. The more people in your home that practice energy savings habits, the greater the energy savings you will enjoy and the lower your energy bills could be.

Resolve to talk to an energy counselor. Clark Public Utilities has a team of energy counselors who are trained to help you find, prioritize and maximize energy savings opportunities in your home. They’re available Monday through Friday during business hours at 360-992-3355.

If you don’t know where to start, they can also help you figure out 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 or to Energy Adviser, c/o Clark Public Utilities, P.O. Box 8900, Vancouver, WA 98668.