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Friday, July 12, 2013

Thinking Outside the Box: Summer Energy Conservation

By Melissa Hincha-Ownby


water heaterIt’s time to say “hello” to summer and for those of you living in a hot climate like I do, you’re also saying a reluctant “hello” to high summer electricity bills. Most of us already take the standard energy conservation steps, such as setting our thermostat a degree or two higher and using ceiling fans to keep the air circulating, but there are other ways to reduce energy use this summer. If you take a few minutes and challenge yourself to think outside the box, you can brainstorm a bevy of unconventional energy conservation ideas. Here are a few I’ve come up with to help you get started!

1. Head underground: If you have a basement, use it. It is cooler underground, which makes the basement the perfect place for a playroom or home office.

2. Air dry your hair: Skip the energy-hogging blow dryer and let your hair naturally dry. For those of us that live in Arizona, standing outside for about five minutes should do the trick!

3. Work at the local coffee shop: If you work from home, migrate your office to a local coffee shop one to two days a week, but don’t forget to change your thermostat before you leave! If the coffee shop is walking distance, you save even more energy because you can leave the car at home.

4. Exercise outdoors: Walking to your local coffee shop is one way to conserve energy this summer. If you usually workout at home, whether it’s walking on the treadmill or exercising to your favorite DVD, head outside a few times a week! The fresh air is good for you and you’ll be minimizing electricity use.

5. Ditch the oven: On the hottest days, avoid using the oven and use your slow cooker or grill outside instead.

6. Plug your outlets: Use child safety plugs in your unused outlets; this will prevent the hot outdoor air from getting in. The benefit of this idea may be nominal but plugging the outlets certainly won’t hurt your energy conservation efforts.

7. Reduce water temperature: If your house is laid out like mine, the hot water heater is located in your garage – your very hot garage. Turn the temperature of your water heater down and let the natural heat of your garage do the work for you. Even if your hot water heater isn’t in the garage, who wants to take a super-hot shower in the summer? Go ahead and turn the temperature down a few degrees!

8. Replace the lawn mower: If you have a gasoline or electric-powered lawn mower, replace it with an old-fashioned push mower. If your lawn is smaller, the extra work is nominal but you’ll benefit two ways – lower energy use and you’ll get a workout in the process!

If these ideas have inspired you to think outside the box, I’d love to hear your unconventional tips to reduce energy use this summer.

Photo courtesy of Melissa Hincha-Ownby.

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