Written by contributor Katie Kimball of Kitchen Stewardship.
Don’t you get tired of making changes?
In order to be healthy or eco-friendly or frugal or what-have-you, there’s always something new to try, a routine you need to alter, or an ingredient you have to cut from your diet, isn’t there?
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just read about those changes and not actually have to implement them?
Sometimes, knowledge is power.
Today I offer you five strategies that you can implement with virtually zero effort beyond reading this post and keeping your brain engaged. (Okay, I know that’s not always easy, but I can’t exactly come to your house and “go green” for you!)
1. Dodge Phantom Energy Waste
“Phantom Energy” is a funny term for the electricity that flows just a little bit into cords that are plugged in for appliances that aren’t turned on.
Just get in the habit of unplugging things you aren’t using: kitchen appliances, cell phone cords, stereos in unused rooms, etc.
For extra credit: Rig up a power strip on your television, DVD player, and gaming systems. Click it off at the end of the day when those items aren’t in use. (Note: You probably should leave your DVR on all the time, since it does things for you when you’re not around.) You can do the same with computers and printers.
2. Manage Fluorescent Lights
Did you know it actually uses more energy and kills your CFL bulbs faster if the lights are turned on and off often? Once a fluorescent light is on, it should stay on for at least 15 minutes. That’s why you may just want a few incandescent bulbs around for closets, hallways, and bathrooms. (More on incandescent bulbs vs. CFLs)
I actually walk into rooms and grab things without turning on the light at all if I know I won’t need to leave it on! I also make a point of leaving our mud room light on all morning, because I know we’ll be going in and out for a good hour or so.
It’s a new paradigm, reminding myself that it’s actually better to leave it on than turn it off, but it’s not a hard habit to form.
3. Maximize the Oven
Try to plan your day so that when the oven is on, you use it for more than one thing.
- Bake potatoes for dinner while your homemade granola bars are in there.
- Bake dinner while roasting sweet potatoes for tomorrow’s grain-free pancakes for breakfast.
- Mix up your cookie dough, refrigerate it while you make dinner, and then plop the cookies on a tray right after your casserole comes out.
- Do a big baking day instead of baking something different every other day (the freezer is your friend when it comes to mass producing baked goods.)
This all saves oven energy (and money, might I add).
4. Bumper to Bumper Dryer Traffic
Just by drying multiple loads of laundry in a row, you can capitalize on the fact that the dryer is already warm and save a bit of energy.
I also usually dry my cloth diaper inserts with another load, any kind of load. In this way, the diapers get fully dry better because there’s enough to tumble (I hang dry my covers), and I only run the dryer once instead of twice. (Did you see my best cloth diaper choices?)
Extra credit: Naturally, hanging any load to dry is the best energy saver.
5. Dinner Dishes Done by Magic
At the end of a meal, when the dishwasher needs to be loaded, don’t rinse each person’s place setting individually. Set them all in the sink, and in the process of being in the kitchen, you’ll end up running water to wash hands, rinse a washcloth, etc.
Like magic, all the dishes in the sink will be covered in water, and you and your trusty dishrag can get everything in the dishwasher without running a drop specifically for the task.
Hopefully none of these tasks will add more than five seconds to your day and are on the low end of “things that are mentally taxing.” If you have kids, I know you appreciate that.
Since I know you only have twenty-four hours in your day (but I bet you wish there were more), you’re welcome.
How do you save energy without working too hard?