Back-to-School Energy Savings Tips
August 30, 2015
With kids going back to school, the activity in your house will change. There will be lunches to make, homework to do, friends to have over. And those changes in activity will lead to changes in your energy consumption. Here are a few tips to make sure that amidst all the back-to-school hubbub, you’re doing things to save energy and money.
- Change Your House Temperature. In “Benefits of a Programmable Thermostat” and “Most Common Wastes of Energy”, we talked about how heating or cooling a home when nobody is around is one of the easiest—and most expensive—ways to waste energy. Well, during the summer, kids are often home more, which means there’s more of a need to keep the house cool—and the kids might be the ones adjusting the thermostat. With the kids out of the house for most of the day, there’s no need to keep the home cool. And since most kids go back to school in August or September, when the temperature is still hot, chances are you’ll still be running the air conditioning. You can manage your home’s temperature manually, but the best way to manage your home’s temperature is to use a programmable thermostat, so you set specific temperatures at specific times throughout the day.
- Look for ENERGY STAR® electronics. If you’re shopping for a new computer, printer, or other device for your child, look for ones that have the ENERGY STAR. These electronics use less energy—and save more money—than ones that do not have this rating.
- Turn off or unplug unused devices. In “Most Common Wastes of Energy”, we mentioned how “vampire” electronics consume energy throughout the day. With kids using computers and other devices for homework, it’s likely that those electronics might be on more than usual. Or your kids might be having friends over to play video games or watch TV, which means it’s more likely those devices will be left on when the kids are done using them. Emphasize to your kids that they turn off—and better yet, unplug—devices then they’re done with them.
- Keep the fridge closed. Making school lunches can be a hectic, time-consuming process. Because it’s hectic and takes time, you might be more likely to leave the fridge open while you’re doing it. Well, as we stated in “The Top 7 Most Energy-Hungry Appliances,” the refrigerator is, on average, the 6th-most energy hungry appliance in the house, making up roughly 4% of an energy bill. So to save energy, make sure that you’re keep it closed when you’re making lunches. And have your kids do the same when they’re getting after-school snacks.
- Close the blinds. Sunlight heats a home all day. In the winter, you want to allow this heat into your house to help warm it. In late summer, though, you want to keep it out to help cool your house. You’ll be turning down the air conditioning during the day because you don’t need to cool the home without your kids there. You should also close the blinds so that sunlight doesn’t provide additional, unneeded heat to your home, causing you to run the air conditioning more when you get home to cool the house.
You might be aware of other energy-intensive activities that happen in your home when your kids go back to school. Take note of them, and make changes to decrease the energy they require. Taking those steps—as well as the ones we listed above—will help ensure that the start of the school year doesn’t also lead to increased energy expenses at home.