People all around the world are trying to cut back on the amount of energy they use by turning off lights when they leave rooms and powering down electronics at night. For those who live with roommates it is a little trickier to get everyone on board, but it can be done. Here are 5 tips for making your home more energy-efficient with roommates.
Agree to a Set Temperature for the Thermostat
During the warmer months it is tempting to crank the thermostat down to cool the house as much as possible. And with roommates, it is likely that each has an individual comfort level to which they change the thermostat to reflect. But constant fluctuation of temperature uses more energy than you may realize especially when you go from one extreme to another rather than keeping it in the middle.
Consult with your roommates and agree upon a temperature, preferably between 75 and 80 degrees to keep cost down, and leave the thermostat set that way during the warm months. Also consider agreeing upon a temperature to set during the day while no one is home, then a more comfortable temperature to sleep with. If you have one thermostat for the entire house, use ceiling fans to bring down the temperature in the rooms that are being used, rather than using the AC to cool the entire dwelling when 80% is likely not in use. Agreeing on a temperature ensures that everyone is on the same page and eliminates the chance for awkwardness and arguments.
Shop for Competitive Energy Plans
Most people aren’t aware they have the option for a more affordable energy plan. Many power companies now offer special energy savings plans for their customers and even more incentives for new customers. Consider getting your roommates together and shopping around for a competitive energy plan that everyone can agree on. This is not only an excellent way to make the home more energy-efficient but it can be budget friendly as well.
And a helpful heuristic would be to find out the answer to this question: Are you living in an area with a deregulated energy market? If so, your available options are drastically different than they otherwise would be, because there are no monopolies on utility companies and allow you to choose a retail energy provider.
Set the Water Heater to 120 Degrees
Everyone will agree that using less water will save money and also use less natural resources, but have you ever thought about adjusting your water heater settings? Setting the unit to 120 degrees will be sufficient for warm showers, but will not scald. Electric units generally have such a temperature setting, but units powered by natural gas simply range from “low” to “hottest” so you may need to get creative to set the temperature by measuring the hottest water to come out of the faucet with a meat thermometer.
The idea of lowering the temperature of the water heater is really no different than adjusting the temperature on the air conditioning or heat. It may take some getting used to at first, but won’t be uncomfortable by any means. Also consider eliminating the need for hot water when washing clothes. Washing clothes in cold water is not only better for your garments, but better for your wallet. And try hang drying as many garments as you can and only run the dryer for full loads.
Install Affordable Upgrades
Many people assume that energy efficient upgrades for the home are expensive, but there are many that are quite affordable, easy to install and combined can make a noticeable difference to your bills.
These include toilet tank weights that help save water by reducing the amount that is required to flush, shower head restrictors that are easily added to your shower head to reduce the flow and high quality air filters for your air conditioning that last longer and will improve the efficiency of your AC unit. Another extremely simple way to make your AC run more efficiently is to change the vent grates. Take a look at which way the slats face; if they point sideways, the air is likely being blown into the walls. Replace the grates with ones that point directly into the room so the AC is more effective.
If you have numerous table or floor lamps, or pendant or track lights, buy energy efficient light bulbs. Many people complain that they are dim but if you allow them time to warm up they are just as effective as incandescent bulbs, but much friendlier to your electric bill. If you have the budget, consider hiring a handy man or electrician to install dimmers on overhead lights to save electricity and create a better atmosphere.
Turn Off and Unplug Electronics When Not in Use
Electronics are constantly using electricity, even if they’re not actively being used. With several roommates in the home, this amounts to a huge amount of electricity that is gobbled up by gadgets. Devise a plan that includes everyone turning electronics off and unplugging them when they’re done using them. This goes for everything from computers and cell phone chargers, to televisions and lights. Using power strips allow you to easily switch off the strip to “unplug” all the things that are leeching electricity.
Making a home more energy-efficient and trying to live a greener lifestyle doesn’t have to be difficult just because you live with roommates. By using these helpful hints it is easy to reduce the amount of energy used at home and to get everyone on track to being more efficient.
Editor’s Note: This article comes courtesy of Morgan Sims, a writer and a recent graduate who loves all things pertaining to sustainable and green technology. She writes for SaveOnEnergy.com and is passionate about making resources available to those looking to live a greener lifestyle. Follow her @MorganSims00.