Author: Pernille Manicus
Recommendations, good advice and admonitions about how we should save energy flies around – both large and small initiatives in everyday life can make a big difference – in individual households and on a societal level. The Nordic People’s Center for Sustainable Energy has been working with energy savings for decades, and we have laid down some of the easiest, some of the most effective and some of the more surprising tips for saving electricity. The advice is published in a series of articles divided into three.
NB! As you read the three articles, or even just one of them, keep in mind that the cheapest, greenest and most reliable energy is the energy we don’t use.
The kitchen – a power guzzler
There is a fairly simple reason why the electricity price is highest between 5pm and 9pm. This is when we are all in the kitchen preparing the evening meal and preparing packed lunches for the following day. With a little thought in the kitchen, there are quite a few energy savings to do. Here, a bullet point is absolutely necessary:
- Postpone the lasagna. The oven is a heavy user, so if you want to save on electricity, you have to bypass dishes that need to be in the oven. If this is not possible, use the microwave instead. And when you need to warm the bread for the soup, use the toaster. If you really need to use the oven, try doing it outside peak hours – or at least, cook all the things you need at once: it will take quite some energy to heat it up from cold, but when warm the electricity consumption will be lower in proportion – so, better cooking 2 hours in row than 2 x 1 hour.
- Check the water level in the pot. The less water that needs to be heated, the less electricity you use. Make sure the vegetables are only just covered with water, and remember to put a lid on the pot. If you want to go even further with your savings in the kitchen, save the potato water for your houseplants/greenhouse – it’s full of good vitamins.
- Use an electric kettle instead of a cooker/quooker or stove. An electric kettle is a very energy-efficient way to boil water,
- Keep the coffee warm with the thermos. Most coffee machines keep the coffee warm for you, but if you have a thermos, then it’s an energy saving right up your alley.
- Fill the dishwasher completely. This also applies to the washing machine.
- Descaling and cleaning. As with defrosting the freezer and cleaning the fridge, it is a good idea to descale the kettle, coffee machine and dishwasher so that they work optimally. The same applies to the filters in your extractor hood, if they are clean, the extractor hood is more energy efficient. You can do that with some vinegar – cheap and environmentally friendly
- Start the dishwasher when the electricity price is lowest. The newer dishwashers have a time setting, and with that you can load the dishwasher in the morning and set it to run when the electricity price is lowest. Then you will have freshly washed crockery, at a cheap electricity price, when you get home from work. Lovely, isn’t it? The same applies to washing machines.
- Can the food processor be replaced, for a while, with the lard board and the kitchen knife? It is a direct exchange of electricity for time. Much cooking has been electrified, including cutting salad and mixing dough. It saves time when we use electric kitchen appliances, but now we have to save energy (and money). This is not to say that we all have to whip the cream by hand, but a good saving exercise is to start cooking with care and a pinch more knuckle grease.
Small energy optimizations in the home
Not to be confused with energy renovation of the home. Because we all know that it is well spent to re-insulate walls, floors, roof and basement and change the windows. We also know that it is good to replace the heat source with a more energy-efficient and sustainable solution. But there are also small energy optimizations in the home that you can do without having to carry a big wallet:
Check for drafts. If you live in an older home, there may be small cracks and crevices where air sneaks in. Typically around sockets or between the floorboards. Walk around the house with a candle and see if the flame dances near the sockets or on the floor. The solution to drafts depends on you and your home, but an optimization that is both relatively cheap and easy to remove again is to use sealant or putty in the cracks and holes.
New thermostats for all radiators. If your thermostats are more than ten years old, you can save by changing to newer models. Many new models even allow you to regulate the temperature via an app on your phone.
Let LED light up your home. Check your bulbs around the house. It has also been said many times before, but it is one of the fastest and cheapest ways to save on electricity on the long run in your home.
Check the insulation on your water and heating pipes. Now that we are talking about the small energy optimizations, it is a good idea to check whether your water and heating pipes are properly insulated. Even if you can only access a fraction of the house’s total piping, it is therefore possible to reduce heat loss and thus optimize energy.
Look at the past: how were your grandparents heating up in winter? Keeping only one part of the house warm (or warmer) may save you a considerable amount of money!
Share your experiences
If you yourself have good advice on saving energy or good experiences with systems and apps that help you keep an eye on electricity prices, you are welcome to leave a comment below so that others can benefit from your knowledge and your experiences.