Tulsa's December 2015 storm was a reminder that winter can be fierce in this part of the state, and that it's always wise to be prepared for the worst. But winter storms also bring to mind the need to manage energy use—particularly electricity—so that your utility bills aren't out of control. Follow these tips to reduce your electricity usage and lower your bills all year long.
Set the Thermostat for Savings
Your thermostat settings play a big role in your electricity costs, winter and summer. By reducing your energy usage at key times, you can realize a significant savings on your bill. Set the thermostat down in winter by 10 degrees when you go to bed or leave for work. Set it back up when you get up in the morning or arrive home at night. In summertime, set the thermostat up a few degrees when you're sleeping or are away.
Stop Drawing Vampire Loads
Did you know that many of your appliances are using energy even when they're turned off? Devices such as DVD players, monitors, printers and game consoles can account for as much as 10 percent of energy usage in a household. Make sure when you turn them off they aren’t drawing so-called "vampire loads" by either unplugging them or replacing a conventional power strip with an advanced power strip (APS). There are a number of different types, including activity monitor strips that turn the power off when you fall asleep, or strips that operate on timers, by remote switch, or by master control.
Use Efficient Lighting
Fluorescent lighting may cost a bit more up front than incandescent bulbs, but it quickly pays for itself in energy savings. Fluorescents use 25-35 percent less energy than incandescents and last about 10 times longer.
There are several easy ways to save energy in the kitchen. Whenever possible, use the microwave to cook rather than the range or oven. You can cook many foods in the microwave—among them, baked potatoes—in much less time than required in the oven or on the stove. In the summer, avoid cooking in the heat of the day, so the air conditioner doesn't have to work harder to keep the apartment cool.
Let the Sunshine In
Letting the sun shine through windows is an easy way to take advantage of passive solar heat in the wintertime. Your apartment will stay warmer if you open drapes or blinds in the morning, and close them at night to help block out the chill. In the summer, keep blinds and drapes drawn partially or all the way to block out solar gain.
Have any energy-saving tips you'd like to share? Leave them in the comments section below.