A new school year for them and a few new energy-saving ideas for you

Things change when school gets back in session—for good or ill, depending on whom you ask. Shifting routines at home are a big part of that. The combination of fresh starts and who’s at home when make this a great time to refocus on energy efficiency and sustainability. So we put together a few ideas for making sure you’re using as few resources as possible—and using your home in a way that best saves you money.

  • Unplug the devices that aren’t being used. Even when they aren’t being used, most electronics still pull electricity, adding up to as much as 10% of your total electric usage. Do a walk-through of your home, unplugging the video game console, TV, and anything else that’s not getting daytime use now that the house isn’t so full during the day.
  • Audit the family’s morning routine. Take a hard look at what’s really happening in the morning, with an eye toward reducing energy and other resource usage. For example, is there a stereo playing that no one’s listening to? Are lights left on in empty rooms (especially after everyone’s out of the house)? Are you or your kids leaving the water on while you brush your teeth? You might be surprised by the little ways that you can cut back.
  • Nudge up the temperature on the AC. With fewer people in the house during the daytime, you can bump up the temperature without really noticing, and as few as four degrees makes a big difference. This is the hottest time of year, so especially if no one’s home during the day, you can really give your AC a break from the slog of keeping you cool and comfy when the temperatures are high. And if you don’t have a programmable thermostat, there’s no time like the present to make the change.
  • Consolidate your trips to the fridge. If you’re packing lunches in the morning, and making breakfasts, all that food gathering can add up to a huge energy loss. In fact, with every swing of the refrigerator door, you lose as much as 30% of the inside temperature. That’s a lot for the fridge to make up, and of course that means a lot of electricity. Take a moment to think about what you need and grab as much as you can at once. Remind the kids not to stand and watch the refrigerator as if it were a television. No matter how long they look, that cheeseburger just isn’t going to materialize.
  • Bring in a heating and cooling expert. Before you need your furnace, have it serviced. Doing so helps ensure that it runs most efficiently when the time comes, and it gives you time to address any repairs you might need.
  • Block the sun. While it’s at its brightest during this season, the sun invites itself right into your house, bringing the force of its heat along with its dastardly dust-highlighting abilities. We commonly see temps of up to 130 degrees in the areas where sunlight hits the floor. Hot spots like that demand a lot of your air conditioner. Shut the curtains or blinds, especially on south- and west-facing windows to keep the temperature inside cooler without taxing your AC.
  • Start a carpool. Or encourage the kids to bike or walk to school. Finding alternatives to that daily drive to school mean you pay less for gasoline (as well as carbon emissions—and wear and tear on your vehicle), but put that in terms of electricity, and you really see the results. Keeping a car off the road for a year has an environmental equivalent of saving 7,000 kWh.
  • And speaking of the environment, consider buying recycled school supplies. You can also cut a lot of waste by sending lunches in reusable containers instead of brown bags and disposable baggies.

While you’re at it, why not give the family a lesson in energy efficiency by scheduling a home energy assessment? Your local Energy Advisor can give you many more ways to find the energy leaks hidden in your home. Without your little bundles of joy underfoot.

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