By Megan McKnight, USAG Bavaria Environmental Division
(Stock photo by Pixabay)
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — October is National Energy Awareness Month; moreover, a time to challenge yourself to become more energy smart. U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria community members can implement small changes to the everyday routine and see significant differences in energy consumption and utility bills.
We should all work to assess our energy use and address areas where we are wasteful, because there are finite amounts of energy resources available to us. As populations grow and energy consumption rises, the need for energy conservation — the practice of using less energy — becomes more critical. Less energy consumption can help you reduce your environmental impacts and even help lower your energy costs.
An overhaul to your energy consumption does not have to mean extensive changes to your home or life. Instead, simple behavior adjustments can have significant impacts when incorporated into your day-to-day routine. Change can be overwhelming, but the lists below outlines simple actions you can begin implementing today. Pick a few to practice this month. Then once they become second nature, add in more to expand energy conservation in your home and become an energy-saving professional. The earth and your wallet will thank you.
Adjusting your daily behaviors with simple, small changes can lead to huge savings, such as:
- Be mindful of your thermostat. Heater and air conditioning costs account for nearly half of an average utility bill, so make adjustments for daily periods when you are out of the house. Reductions in intensity and frequency of use offer the greatest opportunity for savings.
- Turn off lights when you leave a room.
- Turn off appliances when they are not in use. Appliances waste small amounts of energy while in standby mode. To avoid waste, completely turn off or even unplug appliances like your blender, coffee maker, toaster and blow dryer when they are not in use.
- Perform household tasks manually. Hand washing dishes requires less energy than a dishwasher; furthermore, air-drying laundry is more energy-efficient than using the dryer. Clothes dryers consume as much energy as a refrigerator, dishwater and washing machine combined. If you must use the dryer, be sure to clean the lint filter and use the moisture sensor setting.
- Wait until you have full loads. Only run appliance washers — dish or laundry — when you have enough items for a full load and use appropriate water settings.
- Use new energy-saving technologies. Although energy-saving technologies may have higher upfront costs than older counterparts, the energy efficiency saved overall will lower your energy costs significantly and save you money in the long run.
- Replace old light bulbs. Upgrade to halogen incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), or light-emitting diode bulbs (LEDs). These bulbs use up to 80% less energy and last up to 25 times longer than traditional bulbs.
- Where you can, purchase energy-efficient appliances. Appliances with the ENERGY STAR label have a federal guarantee that they will consume less energy than standard models.
- Use smart power strips. Significant amounts of energy are consumed when electronics are off. This unintentional energy use is called “phantom loads,” and it is a substantial source of energy waste and utility costs. Smart power strips, or advanced power strips, eliminate phantom loads by shutting off power to electronics when they are not in use.
- Do not use more energy than you need. Thoughtful actions will ensure that you are not unintentionally consuming energy.
- Be mindful of hot water use. Heating water uses a significant amount of energy. Try to use less hot water or turn the thermostat on your water heater down a few degrees. Consider shorter and cooler showers and wash most clothing on cold cycles.
- Weatherize your home. Drafts mean lost energy. Insulate your home with heavy drapes and carpets. Use draft stoppers — both for doors and windows — where necessary.
- Use reusable items. Single-use plastics and disposable items use a lot of energy to manufacture and do not offer great returns. Instead, purchase reusable items and repair items you already have to cut down your energy footprint.
- Try to charge less. When possible, put your phone or laptop on energy-saving mode. This will help save your battery and require less energy to charge.
To learn more, contact the USAG Bavaria Environmental Division at: https://home.army.mil/bavaria/index.php/environmental