Less is More with Energy Efficiency: Tips for Saving Money and the Planet


November 07, 2013

Sunshine is in no short supply around here, but solar panels are a finite resource – not to mention that large solar arrays can present a fair amount of financial and logistical hurdles. While GRID promotes increased use of solar energy, we aim to do it the responsible way by helping families reduce their electricity usage before we install solar for them.  That’s why every homeowner that receives the gift of solar through GRID goes through energy efficiency training to help keep their utility costs at a minimum. 

With colder months on the horizon, there’s never a better time for all of us to make simple changes to our homes and habits that can result in lower utility costs and a smaller carbon footprint.  As individuals it may not seem like we can put a dent in the current energy crisis, but if every person takes up one energy saving behavior we can make an enormous impact.  For example, if all California residents unplugged appliances when they weren’t using them, it would save upwards of $640 million each year.  That translates into an estimated 2.9 million Megawatts!

So check out this list of small things you can do to save money and the planet at the same time - and don’t forget to tell your friends!

Behavior Changes

  • Use lids on pots and pans to reduce cooking time.
  • Don’t boil more water than you need when making coffee, tea, or other hot drinks.
  • Unplug electrical devices when not in use, especially laptops.  A power strip can make this easy.  And when taking a vacation, don’t forget to give your appliances a rest too by unplugging them.
  • For smaller meals, cook with small appliances like toaster ovens and microwaves, or even use the small burner on the stove.
  • Use cold water when running the garbage disposal. 
  • Let food cool down before putting it in the refrigerator. 
  • Use a humidifier during cooler months.  It makes you feel warmer and allows you to turn down the thermostat a couple degrees
  • Heat your home with the sun.  Open the blinds and let light in during cooler months to naturally heat your house
  • Clean the coils of your refrigerator, but don’t forget to unplug it before you take on this task.
  • Dress for the occasion.  Often times putting on a sweater in the winter can really make a difference.
  • Open the refrigerator door for shorter durations.  Instead of keeping the door open while pondering your dinner choice, take a quick scan of what’s inside, close the door, and then start planning.


Home Changes

  • If you have hardwood or tile floor, add rugs to keep your feet warm.
  • Check the exterior of your home for air leaks.  These could be around spigots, dryer vents, gas pipes, etc.  You can use caulk or expanding  foam to seal them up.
  • Install a programmable thermostat which allows you to keep temperatures low when you’re away for the day.
  • Insulate your water pipes with half inch foam or pipe tape wherever they are exposed.
  • Move furniture away from exterior walls and drafts during cooler months to make sitting areas warmer.
  • Replace or clean furnace filters.
  • Turn your water heater down to 120 - 125 degrees.
  • Use weather stripping to seal drafts under doors.