How can we save energy at home?
Energy saving is becoming more necessary all the time. The shift towards a cleaner, more sustainable and more democratic energy model can begin in every home. The best way to reduce energy consumption is to apply saving measures at various levels. Some can be carried out in summer, while others can be used all year round.
An easy way to save is to make sensible use of the energy consuming equipment we have at home. This does not require any investment, since it just optimises the use of equipment we already have, in ways that reduce consumption and improve performance.
In this sense, saving actions can be carried out with household appliances, the heating system, in the kitchen, or with water management. Below are some of the basic measures that can be applied.
- Optimise the length and number of times that the refrigerator is opened.
- Periodically clean the back, and ensure that it is placed at least 5 centimetres away from the wall to facilitate ventilation.
- Adjust the thermostat to prevent it from cooling more than necessary. The freezer should be set at -18ºC and the refrigerator at 6ºC.
- Clean and defrost the refrigerator and freezer once a year, or whenever ice forms, to keep it running in the most optimal conditions.
- For gas boilers: purge the radiators periodically to release air in the equipment, and set the thermostat between 18 and 21ºC for optimum comfort conditions.
- For electric radiators or heaters: set the temperature of the thermostat between 18 and 21ºC, add timers on the radiators to ensure that they are only on during the necessary hours, and put them below the windows or next to the coldest walls of the home (the exterior walls).
- For gas stoves: Always use a flame that is smaller than the pot or pan that is placed on the burner.
- For ceramic stoves and ovens: Turn off the stove or oven before you finish cooking to take advantage of the residual heat that is released.
Regulating equipment usage:
- Eliminate standby phantom consumption by using a switch base to disconnect electronic equipment.
- Disconnect appliances when they are not being used: coffee maker, toaster, water heater, etc.
- Turn off the lights in the rooms that are not being used (for example, turn off the kitchen light after cooking, while eating in the dining room).
To save water:
- Collect the cold water that comes out of the shower before it gets hot and use it for cleaning.
- If you do not have a double discharge tank in the bathroom, place a bottle inside the tank to reduce water consumption with every use.
- Reduce the time spent in the shower.
- Set the water temperature on the boiler, so it doesn’t heat to a higher temperature than we actually use. The maximum shower temperature is normally 38ºC.
Special measures for summer
As explained by Raquel Rodríguez, Energy Rights Specialist Coordinator of Barcelona’s Energy Advice Centres, there are several measures that can be applied specifically during the summer in order to save energy. Some are as simple as closing the windows during the day to prevent hot air from entering.
To do this, use the exterior or interior blinds, lowering them in direct sunlight to prevent the home from heating up during the day. As the sun goes down, open all of the windows to ensure good cross ventilation.
If the blinds are not effective enough, you may want to install shutters on the windows to block out the sun or use thermal sheets that stop light from entering, and therefore, prevent an increase in heat. These are interesting options, especially for summer homes.
Install materials to reduce the demand for energy
“Another way to save at home is to install material that reduces the energy required to maintain thermal comfort,” says Rodríguez.
According to the specialist, some of these materials include timers for electric heaters, and switches on bases that turn off all equipment that is not being used. You can also use energy-efficient or LED light bulbs that consume less electricity than conventional bulbs, and adapt windows and doors to reduce air infiltration, among other methods.
You can also optimise energy bills by contracting rates that are more appropriate for your home’s consumption. For example, by applying the hourly discrimination rate to your electricity bill, you can save up to 40% of the cost. In addition, the rates for your water bill can be adjusted according to the people who are registered in your home.
Replace equipment with more efficient versions
Finally, another way to save energy is to replace consumer equipment that is already in the home with more efficient or higher performance versions as the old ones break down.
When buying a new piece of equipment, you have to take into account the efficiency criteria they present, such as low energy lighting or high efficiency appliances. Such items require a lower energy consumption to give the same result, and this reduces the cost.
Sometimes, you can choose to have an energy audit. This is when there is a very high energy consumption in a home, which cannot be justified by the people who live there.
In such cases, a visit to the home is recommended in order to analyse all of its energy consuming equipment and the usage of each piece, to understand whether the consumption is correct or if there is an associated problem.
Sustainable attitudes: necessary to save energy
We must be aware that all energy use has an associated economic and environmental cost. “It is necessary to involve everyone who lives in the home, large or small, in order to work together towards the same goal,” says Rodríguez.
From there, implementing energy saving measures will be easy and effective, and you will see the reduction in energy expenditure as the months go by.
It is important to contract electricity for your home with a company that ensures the energy is from a renewable source.