Americans love a deal. There is a proliferation of websites that specialize in coupons of every kind, people camp out all night for big deals, and some sales have even become official holidays.
But while we are focused on upfront savings on consumer goods, people in the U.S. are less responsible when it comes to concerted actions to save in the long run. For example, when it comes to energy consumption, we allow for a great deal of unnecessary waste. That’s something that hurts the environment and the bottom line.
A 2017 survey from SaveOnEnergy demonstrated that there are a number of simple actions we are simply not taking that would reduce our carbon footprints and save money. These energy hacks would save average Americans thousands, but many either don’t know about them or choose to ignore them because of misinformation.
How bad is it? The study showed that usually less than 50 percent of those surveyed were taking advantage of relatively easy solutions to curb energy waste.
The sad part is that many of the energy hacks in the survey are pretty well known. For example, most people know by now that light emitting diode (LED) light bulbs are better than regular Edison lights when it comes to energy consumption. Maybe if you also knew that replacing your bulbs would save you about $180 per year, you would be more inclined to switch.
If you still haven’t, you’re not alone — close to 50 percent of Americans are not using low-energy bulbs. And did you also know that the rumor that there is some special way you have to dispose of LED bulbs is a myth? Unlike compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), LEDs don’t contain mercury, so they do not require special disposal as household hazardous waste. Widespread LED recycling is not yet available because the bulbs last so long.
Another pretty straightforward way to save at home is to shore up your windows in the winter. Closing seams that let in drafts would seem like a no-brainer, but over 54 percent of Americans polled say they have never even attempted to do it. Caulking cracks and just weatherproofing windows can save an average of $200 every year. That’s enough to put weather stripping high on your Christmas list.
There’s an ongoing debate as to whether it’s better to turn your computer on and off every day or to just leave it on. Most experts agree that turning it off is in fact better for the life of the computer, but one thing is for sure — shutting down is better for your electric bill.
Have three computers in the house? Turning them off instead of leaving them idle would save you close to $170 annually. Yet only 40 percent of Americans regularly turn their computers off.
You may have heard that you should unplug your appliances when not in use to save energy, but you might not know why. Many appliances use standby power at all times when they’re plugged in (it’s what runs the clock on your microwave, for example), and these power-sucking electronics can bloat your energy bill. One of the largest culprits of energy waste is your printer. Just unplugging the printer on a regular basis could save you over $130 a year. How many Americans take advantage of this money-saving energy hack? Less than 15 percent.
Between just these four simple energy hacks, you could be saving close to $700 a year. But in addition to the money, not paying attention to these tips means higher levels of energy consumption for no good reason. Simple things that you can do could put us on the track toward fighting climate change and saving the planet.
Take a look at these and other hacks that can make you feel good about your environmental impact and your wallet. Which of these are you already doing and which should you start tomorrow?
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on July 21, 2017. It was updated in November 2019.
Feature illustration courtesy of Shutterstock
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