Simple steps to reduce your overall energy consumption, like turning off the lights when exiting a room, can make a positive impact on energy conservation. These lifestyle choices are relatively simple, and can save a household hundreds of dollars in energy costs over a year. While these choices are important, this section of sustainable living will focus on less obvious ways to conserve energy.
One key to energy conservation is having and maintaining a well-insulated home. Especially in the middle of a hot Palouse summer or a cold winter, much of the heating and cooling can escape the home through unsealed cracks and other avenues. Investing in an energy audit of your home and making recommended adjustments can have an extremely rapid payback period, and will lower the amount of energy consumed in your household. There are services throughout Washington and Idaho that will provide this service at little to no cost.
Another energy conservation practice that is growing in popularity is the use of passive solar energy to warm the building during the colder winter months, and to use the sun for natural lighting. These practices are difficult to implement in a preexisting home, but during construction of a new structure can and should be considered. The U.S. Department of Energy can provide advice on specific practices related to passive solar.
A small but impactful practice to reduce overall consumption is to unplug appliances after use. Even when an appliance such as a television is turned off, it is still consuming energy. Some people refer to this as “vampire energy” or standby power. This form of consumption is unnecessary and is easy to eliminate. According to Energy Star, a program created by the U.S. EPA, on a national basis, standby power accounts for more than 100 billion kilowatt hours of annual U.S. electricity consumption and more than $10 billion in annual energy costs. This is an easy way to conserve energy in your home!
1. Passive Solar Home Design, United States Department of Energy
2. Standby Power and Energy Vampires, Energy Star (pdf)