By Uma Campbell
For many people around the world, everyday life has changed dramatically. The COVID-19 virus has forced thousands of people to work from home to flatten the curve and save lives. While working from home is necessary, it can create new problems that you may be unaware of. Staying inside all the time greatly changes how much energy you use. You may have been saving energy during your normal schedule, but not leaving your house throws your normal energy-saving plans out the window. Do not let home isolation become an excuse to overindulge or abandon energy-saving initiatives. To continue saving energy and living a green life, you must adapt to your new normal routine. Think outside of the box and use familiar technology, like solar energy, in new ways to continue saving energy while staying home. Below are some tips and tricks to saving energy while you stay home during social distancing, stay at home orders, and isolation.
Personal and Portable Solar Energy
When most people think of solar energy they picture large, expensive, and fixed solar panels installed on roofs or other tall structures, but solar energy comes in many different forms. While you are in home isolation, it can be hard to coordinate and install traditional solar panels, but that doesn’t mean you can’t access solar energy. There are solar power generators of varying sizes and capacities, so you can still use the sun’s green energy to power your devices. Do not expect these solar generators to supply anywhere near the same amount of energy as traditional solar panels. Small solar generators are designed to power laptops, phones, and a refrigerator or TV at most – not an entire house. When shopping for a solar generator, carefully consider the capacity, weight, charge time, and price to ensure you buy the right generator for your needs. The device or appliance you are looking to power with a solar generator will greatly inform what generator is right for you.
Heating and Cooling
While you are cooped up at home, it can be tempting to make your house as comfortable as possible, but maintaining green heating and cooling practices will keep you comfortable while saving energy. You should be comfortable while you are confined to your house, but to save energy, try lowering your thermostat by a few degrees. Grab a sweater if you are cold or swap sweats for shorts if you are warm instead of reaching for the thermostat. If you can control individual zones within your house, heat or cool only the rooms you are currently using. There is no reason to waste energy by heating or cooling a room you aren’t spending time in.
Efficient Furniture Placement
If you are struggling to leave your thermostat alone, it may be time to examine your furniture placement. Air vents are commonly blocked by furniture and curtains which will raise your heating/cooling bill. Move large furniture away from low vents and tuck curtains out of the way from high vents to let air flow freely. If you are fighting the cold, hang thick curtains over your windows at night to trap heat inside and keep cold air out. Be sure to open strategic curtains during the day to let warm sunlight in. Carpets and rugs also help keep your space warm; large area rugs are especially useful when combating cold hard floors like tile.
Staying home gives you more time than ever to clean around your house, but make sure you are washing clothes and dishes in an energy-efficient way. To be energy efficient, only run your dishwasher and washing machine with full loads. Running your machines with full loads maximizes the energy expenditure while running multiple partial loads wastes energy. You may think washing your dishes by hand is the most energy-efficient method, but it is more energy and water efficient to run a fully loaded dishwasher than wash the same amount of dishes by hand.
Refrain from using the heated dry option on your dishwasher and using your clothes dryer entirely. Leave dishes to dry in the dishwasher overnight and wake up to clean, ready-to-use dishes without wasting energy. Instead of shoving your clothes in the dryer, hang them up to dry them overnight. Air drying your clothes not only saves energy, but it also is more gentle on your clothes. The US Department of Energy has an online energy calculator that lets you see how much energy and money you can save by turning off your dryer or other home appliances.
There is no denying our daily lives have changed, but everyone can still save energy while we weather this temporary alteration. Solar generators let you use the free and clean power of the sun without installing traditional panels. Set your thermostat lower than normal to save energy, but use energy-neutral solutions to stay comfortable. Keep your home clean, but wash your dishes and clothes efficiently to reduce energy waste.