Summer is almost over, and while your kids might not be ready for school to start again, you can be excited about the new energy-saving opportunities that the back-to-school season brings. Autumn is a time of the year full of transitions: from hot to cool weather, from summer relaxation to busy fall schedules. With change in the air, it might be a good time to make some adjustments to your energy habits as well. These tips will help you gear up for the school year in the most energy-efficient way possible.
1. Adjust your thermostat
With the kids away at school, you will suddenly have fewer warm bodies in the house raising the temperature. There’s no need to blast the air conditioner like you would in the summer, even if it’s still hot out. Go ahead and turn up your thermostat a few degrees, and keep in mind that you can save 4 – 8% on your cooling costs for each degree you raise it. You can also reverse this pattern as the weather gets cooler.
2. Use your refrigerator wisely
If you prepare your kid’s lunches in the morning, or if they do it themselves, you may be opening and closing your fridge door frequently throughout the process. This makes your fridge work extra hard to keep a consistent temperature. To save energy, take out all your ingredients and supplies at once and set them on the counter. This makes your lunch easier to access, quicker to pack, and will keep you from wasting energy through your fridge door.
3. Unplug your devices
Chances are your kids won’t be using all their electronic gadgets while they’re away at school, and neither will you. If you have electronics sitting around unused most of the day, make sure they are unplugged and powered off. This will stop them from using “vampire energy“: energy that leaks out from plugs, chargers, and electronics while they are not in use.
4. Keep busy after school
Having bored kids around the house is a major drain in your household’s electricity. Playing on the computer, watching TV, using the microwave, and all sorts of other activities your kids might do when they come home from school don’t look so great on your electric bill. Peak energy demand is also during the early evening, so electricity will be more expensive during this time if you have a time-of-use rate. Keep your kids out of the house by encouraging after-school activities. If your children are occupied with sports, music lessons, and school clubs, they’ll be both gaining valuable experiences and saving you money on your electric bill.
5. Turn off the engine
If you’re regularly waiting in your car while picking up and dropping off your kids from various activities, don’t let it sit on idle too long. It takes less energy to turn off your engine and turn it back on again than it does to leave it idling. Leaving your car on idle in hot temperatures also puts unnecessary stress on the engine, so turning off your engine is better for both the car and the environment in the long run.
6. Buy EnergyStar products
Back-to-school season may be a time when you’re investing in new electronic devices like laptops, printers, and mini-fridges. When shopping for new electronics, look for EnergySTAR labels. These products are certified as high-efficiency and low-energy devices, and many use up to 65% less energy than their non-certified counterparts.
7. Take advantage of summer sales
Stock up on cooler weather clothes with end-of-summer and back-to-school sales. When the weather drops enough to get your kids reaching for the thermostat, you can encourage them to show off their new sweaters instead.
With fall right around the corner, now is a great time to take advantage of that back-to-school bustle when it comes to energy savings. Get started on these tips, and maybe even form some life-long habits that will keep you saving all year round.