Updated 2 months ago

10 energy-saving tips: energy conservation and energy efficiency

Written by Ana Almerini , Edited by Catherine Lane

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Saving energy is at the top of everyone’s mind as electricity prices get higher and higher. You can save energy in your home in two ways: energy conservation and becoming energy efficient.

Energy conservation is reducing the amount of energy you use by changing habits, allowing you to use less electricity, save money, and help the environment. Conserving energy can be as easy as opening your curtains to get more natural light or opening the windows instead of pumping the AC. 

Energy efficiency is less about your habits and more about the technology in your home and various upgrades you can make, like having Energy Star appliances or properly insulating your home. 

Changing your daily habits and starting home projects can be daunting, but don't worry; we're here to help. Here are 10 energy-saving and energy-conserving habits that you can work into your routine:

  • Rely on natural light

  • Unplug appliances when not in use

  • Use a smart thermostat

  • Use less hot water

  • Practice the top 5 energy efficiency tips

  • Change your lightbulbs

  • Replace your windows

  • Insulate your home

  • Air-dry your clothes

  • Turn your refrigerator temperature up

Energy conservation at a glance:

  • Energy conservation is the act of changing a habit to reduce the amount of energy you use.

  • You can practice energy conservation by relying more on natural light, using less hot water, turning up the temperature on your fridge, and making energy-efficient home upgrades.

  • Integrating energy conservation into your routine and installing solar panels can drastically reduce (or even eliminate!) your electricity bill.

Top 5 energy conservation tips

Energy conservation is all about changing your habits. Saving energy can seem like just another thing to add to your to-do list, but it doesn’t have to be! The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the average American home spends $2,000 a year on home utility bills, which can be reduced by 25% by taking energy conservation measures.

Watch the video below to get a better idea of how to utilize these tips.

1. Embrace the sun and enjoy natural lighting 

On sunny days, opening your curtains reduces the need for artificial light.  Relying less on lights is one of the easiest ways to conserve energy. Natural light doesn’t just help lower your energy usage; it boosts your mood too! According to doctors at the University of California, Las Angeles, natural light increases overall happiness!

With this simple technique, you’ll be saving money and feeling a bit better in the process - just by following nature’s light schedule.

2. Unplug appliances you're not using

Believe it or not, appliances still draw small amounts of electricity when plugged in, even if they’re not on! Often called phantom loads, devices can suck up eight to nine kilowatt-hours of electricity in a year simply by being plugged in. While that’s not going to break the bank - it can add up for all of the appliances in your home! 

The best solution to phantom loads? Unplugging your devices when not in use. While this may be difficult for things like your TV or desktop computer, you should absolutely keep chargers and easy-to-reach lights unplugged when not in use. 

Alternatively, you could get a smart powerstrip that automatically disconnects devices that aren’t in use to reduce the impact of phantom loads.

3. Turn down the thermostat!

The majority of electricity bills go towards heating and cooling a home. If you really want to save energy, your thermostat is the place to start. 

In the summer, opt for opening the windows on days with a cool breeze. When the heat is too hot to handle, try keeping the air conditioning a few degrees higher when you’re not home so you aren’t blasting the AC when no one is there to enjoy it. 

The same goes for the winter months. Instead of cranking the heat all day, keep it low when you’re not home and turn it back up once you get home from work. If you have a fireplace, consider using it to heat your space when you can!

If you don’t want to think about changing your thermostat every day, get a smart thermostat!

Smart thermostats automatically adjust settings for your heating and air conditioning units, set a schedule for energy use, and turn off the lights when you’re not at home.

4. Use less hot water

Wash your clothes in cold water, and yes, turn down the shower heat! A quick way to ease into this habit is by reducing the highest temperature on your water heater. Heating up water for dishes, laundry, and showers is a significant energy thief. 

While hot water is necessary in some cases, most of the time, your laundry and dishes won't notice the difference, thanks to new detergents meant to be used with cold water. Better yet, install a solar water heater to get your water heating needs pollution-free.

5. Turn your refrigerator temperature up 

It is safe to keep your refrigerator temperature at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below, so consider turning it up to save some energy. Turning up the temperature is a simple way to conserve energy while still keeping your food safe and fresh.

Most of these energy conservation examples are quick fixes to save you a large amount of energy and, in turn, lower your electric bill. If you want to get your electric bill to $0, adding solar panels can help you get there by generating electricity for free.

Find out how much you can save annually by installing solar panels

5 best energy efficiency upgrades

1. Replace your light bulbs 

Energy-efficient light bulbs, specifically LED light bulbs, use 75% less energy than traditional incandescent light bulbs because they don’t release as much heat. 

Switching out your lightbulbs is one of the easiest things to increase your home’s energy efficiency, and it doesn’t involve much upfront cash either.

2. Upgrade to energy-efficient appliances

Switching from traditional appliances to energy-efficient ones is another great way to lower energy consumption. Energy-efficient appliances are easy to find - just look for the Energy Star sticker. 

Don’t worry; you won’t sacrifice your appliance’s performance to use less energy. For example, an Energy Star television's wattage requirements will be lower than a traditional TV, but you can still enjoy all of your favorite programs. Energy-efficient models are designed to use less energy to get the same job done. Sometimes, they even outperform their energy-hungry counterparts!

3. Insulate your home  

Insulating plays a huge role in how much energy your home needs to heat up and cool down. If your home isn’t properly insulated, you’re paying more money than you need to on electricity. According to the Department of Energy, adding insulation to the proper areas of your home can save up to 10% on energy bills

If you find that it takes a while to heat your home in the winter or it doesn’t hold heat well, that could be a sign you need to upgrade your insulation. You can also take a peak by looking behind outlet covers, in your attic, or in your basement or crawl space to see if the insulation looks sparse.

4. Replace or reseal windows and doors

Drafty windows aren’t just giving you a chill - they’re emptying your wallet! If you live in an older home or have not replaced your windows for years, you might be wasting energy trying to keep your home’s temperature regulated if air leaks from the windows, letting the cool or warm air escape.

One option is two-pane energy-efficient windows, which can keep the energy inside your home. Although replacing your windows could be a little pricey, it will pay off in the long run because your home will not be losing energy out of the window.

If you’re not up for a big project like a window replacement, you can weatherstrip areas you find drafty to reduce energy loss!

5. Get a home energy audit and regular tune-ups

If you really want to have the most energy-efficient house possible, get a home energy audit. A professional auditor can identify all areas where you’re losing energy. Then, you can address them based on your budget or how much energy you’re looking to save. 

Download: DIY Home Energy Audit Checklist

You should also consider getting regular tune-ups for your appliances and HVAC systems. While most modern appliances don’t require much maintenance, you should have a professional inspect your HVAC system. Not only will this fix any leaks and improve efficiency, but it can also make your HVAC system last longer!

What's the difference between energy conservation and energy efficiency?

It is important to recognize that energy conservation and efficiency are different methods to achieve the same goal - saving energy!

Energy conservation is a form of energy management that takes place when you perform actions that lead to lower energy consumption. These actions include unplugging electronics when not in use or turning a light off when you leave a room. 

Energy efficiency involves using energy-saving technology that uses less energy to complete a task. For example, energy-efficient appliances use less energy to complete the same job. 

Though the two are different, energy efficiency helps achieve energy conservation. Energy-efficient products help make your home more sustainable overall since they use less energy to complete the same task as their non-energy-efficient counterparts.

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Solar panels are the ultimate way to save on energy bills

Solar panels are the number one way to save on energy bills. With solar panels, you don’t have to worry about changing your habits for a cleaner and cheaper lifestyle. Instead of relying on your utility, you can generate your own power right on your roof and potentially eliminate all of your electricity costs! Oh - and they create clean energy. What’s better than that?

Written by Ana Almerini Marketing & Communications Manager

Ana is the Marketing & Communications Manager at SolarReviews, working within the solar industry since 2020. With a Master's in Climate and Society and professional experience in marketing, she helps communicate the value of solar to homeowners and build awareness of the SolarReviews brand. On weekends you can find her at the Jersey shore, reading a book from the ever-increasing stack on her side table, or eating food someone else cooked....

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