Saving Energy and Money Together as a Family

Craig Middleton

Your youngest is playing on the iPad, humming away to the music of the game. Your oldest is browsing YouTube, tucked away in the back of the house. You hear the compressor on your fridge kick on. You hear your spouse click through a few channels on the TV in another room. The oven is warming up dinner. As the sun sets outside you turn on the lights and call the family over to eat. Meanwhile in the back of your mind, the thought, “how much is all of this electricity costing us?” won't slip away. You have everyone at the table, maybe it’s time to have a chat about what the family can do to save energy. This article will run through some simple things you can do with your family to use less energy and save on electricity.

First, some Science

There are some important terms to know as you work on making your home and family more energy efficient. Watt, Kilowatt, and Kilowatt-hour. A Watt is a unit of measurement of power. The more Watts something uses the more power it needs to accomplish its task. The crane game at your local grocery store uses fewer Watts than the construction crane outside moving steel beams around. A Kilowatt is 1,000 Watts. This measure is used to contract the numbers used in defining how much power common electronics use. A single Watt is very little power, most devices use thousands if not tens of thousands of Watts, so Kilowatts is the preferred notation for their power consumption.

So then, what is a kilowatt hour? Put simply, it’s a measure of energy. A kilowatt-hour (kWh) measures how much energy a device needs to consume in order to run for an hour. This measurement is commonly notated on appliances and power bills and is a great measure to use as a key indicator for progress in saving energy. Now that we have the terminology laid out, let’s look at what the family can do to reduce the kilowatt-hours your home needs to operate.

Using Less Electricity

One of the simplest ways to save on electricity is to use less of it. Take an accounting of all your electric appliances and review which require the most kilowatt-hours to operate. Heating and cooling typically use the most electricity of common household appliances. Once you have your ordered list, brainstorm on how to use these devices less. Can the thermostat come down a few degrees in the winter? Can the air conditioning be switched off a little earlier in the summer? Is everyone turning lights and appliances off whenever they are done with them? Is everyone turning off personal electronics instead of leaving them on charging in the wall constantly? Can the laundry be hung out to air dry instead of using the dryer? Can you open windows and use more natural light instead of electric lights? Also, consider family activities that don’t require the use of your home’s electricity. Walks around the neighborhood are a great way to get everyone out of the house and off their devices for a while and enjoy each other’s company. The more ways you can find to switch things off and leave them off, the more energy your family will save.

Using Electricity More Efficiently

Some devices can’t or shouldn’t be shut down or neglected around the home. Lights do have to come on at some point and it would be mean to make the whole family huddle up in sweaters, coats, and blankets all winter long. So finding ways to be more energy efficient around the home is key to bringing down your power bill. While using less power by actively managing home appliances is a thing your family can do, energy efficiency has more to do with what your family buys. As you shop for appliances, lightbulbs, and other home devices, compare kilowatt-hour measurements and make purchases based on what your budget allows and gives you the best energy efficiency. There are also some big-ticket home improvements that you can invest in to improve energy efficiency. You can have your windows sealed, your roof insulation updated, or even have solar panels installed. Not all of these big spends are necessarily the right answer for your home and family but don’t count them out if you’re still dropping your power bill.

Making your home more energy efficient takes work. But the money you save lets you focus on what matters most, these people you spend your life with. Put in the work and the family will come to value all the wonderful things in their lives, most of all, each other.