In the particular conjuncture of events that we are experiencing made on the one hand of the fight against climate change and on the other of expensive energy, a collective awareness of our way of using the available resources (which too often are wasted) becomes particularly relevant and a change in our habits, so as to avoid unnecessary consumption and defend ourselves from increases in the bill.
In this article we analyze in particular the energy resources and what precautions we can introduce in the use of various household appliances and electronic devices, to obtain an advantage in economic terms and learn to consume energy more consciously.
How to reduce energy waste from computers, tablets and smartphones
Every day we use computer devices to work, search and shop on the internet, watch multimedia files such as photos, videos, streaming movies and play video games.
It must be said that computers consume more energy than laptops because, offering superior performance, they are made of "more demanding" materials, but in general we can say that all PCs absorb a certain amount of energy to function.
- In the pc settings and in the "energy saving" section and set the device to this option;
- Choose the system suspend or hibernate function during the period of non-use of the computer, or if you are a little hostile to these solutions, opt for the limit to turn off the monitor after 3 minutes of non-use and deactivate the screensaver which consumes a lot of energy;
- Always turn off your PC when you don't plan to use it for several hours;
- Use a power strip with an on-off switch on which to group the PC and peripherals such as the printer, audio speakers etc ... and, when you do not use the computer or finish your work, turn it off too because, like other appliances, these appliances absorb energy even when switched off;
- When you are at your PC, close apps and browser windows that you are not using;
- For laptops, use them with cable and without battery whenever possible, so as not to charge the latter continuously while using them.;
- Avoid playing multimedia content on large screens such as TVs, but choose smaller ones such as tablets and smartphones;
- Lower the brightness of PC and TV screens also using the "ECO" function where present;
- Make sure to charge your devices such as tablets and smartphones during the day, so as to disconnect them from the socket as soon as the charging cycle is completed; you will avoid keeping them running all night.
How to reduce energy waste from sockets and light bulbs
This is a fairly relevant sector on energy loads as it is here that the so-called "phantom consumption" lurk, ie energy consumption of which we have no knowledge. Here's how to reduce them:
- Turn off the lights in the rooms you are not staying in and when you go from room to room. It seems to be obvious, but often it is not so it is good to repeat it;
- Replace the bulbs for lighting at home with LED technology bulbs which, with the same brightness, last a very long time and consume very little energy: about 80% less than traditional ones.
This type of light bulbs are currently the most efficient on the market and despite having a slightly higher initial cost, it is absorbed by the cut in the bill.;
- Pay attention to the stand-by of electronic devices, that is to say that steady red light that appears when we turn them off.
Stand-by is an example of phantom consumption as the red light still requires energy to be kept on and, although it is true that taken individually it does not consume much, the situation changes if we consider the total sum of the devices in stand-by that today they are present in our homes.
To cope with these "phantom consumptions" and also limit them in the bill, you can use a power strip with an on-off switch on which to group the appliances to be switched off as a group when not in use (for example: TV, Soundbar and TV decoder);
- Use smart sockets (easily available online) that allow electrical appliances to be switched on at specific times and switched off when not in use;
- Never leave the phone charger plugged into the power outlet; it absorbs energy unnecessarily even when connected to the smartphone;
- Get rid of appliances not strictly necessary eg. electronic clocks and alarm clocks, kettles, lamps that you never use (if the latter are furnishing, simply unplug them from the sockets) etc...
How to reduce energy waste in the kitchen
It is possible to save energy even while cooking by combining small conscious gestures with intelligent use of appliances.
- Lower the gas flame as soon as the dish you are cooking begins to boil;
- Use the lids to both bring water to a boil and to cook food.
Lids help maintain heat and speed up cooking times.
Furthermore, know that the materials of the pots are also important in maintaining a constant temperature; prefer terracotta, ceramic, titanium and stainless steel with a thick bottom;
- Use the pressure cooker for dishes that require very long cooking (for example ragù) as it allows you to halve cooking times;
- Replace the pod coffee machine with the good old mocha; the latter consumes up to about 50% less;
- Disconnect the air fryer from the power supply when you are not using it;
- Turn off the electric oven a few minutes before finishing cooking so as to take advantage of the heat still present without using other energy.
Try not to open the oven continuously as the temperature can drop as much as 14°C each time. Also avoid the preheat function if possible.
The electric oven generally consumes twice as much as the microwave oven which, moreover, provides for shorter cooking times for food;
- When washing dishes by hand (the same also applies to clothes), use cold water (perhaps with insulating and protective gloves so as not to freeze your hands) or slightly lukewarm water instead of hot water;
- Thaw food in the fridge rather than at room temperature; this helps to keep the internal temperature of the refrigerator low for longer, thus avoiding the need for additional energy, as well as having the advantage of a more homogeneous defrosting of food.
How to reduce the energy waste of household appliances
If you need to buy a new appliance, be it the refrigerator, the washing machine, the iron, the air conditioner, the vacuum cleaner etc ... pay attention to the energy class of the new appliance: prefer energy classes A or higher A +, A ++, A +++ that they are already designed with a view to energy saving.
- The refrigerator is one of the most energy-intensive appliances we have in the house.
To limit its energy demand it is first of all good to set an adequate temperature according to the season: if during the summer with the high external temperature we are forced to make it work at lower temperatures, the same thing is not true in winter when we can take advantage of lower outside temperatures.
Furthermore, it is important not to open the fridge all the time, but to take what we need in one go.
Other precautions to be taken for this appliance are, for example, not to put hot food inside but wait for it to cool down and still keep the fridge tidy in order to promote air circulation;
- If the refrigerator also has a freezer part, then you must be careful and periodically defrost it because the ice, acting as a barrier, requires a higher energy consumption to maintain the right cooling temperature.
Furthermore, it is good to know that when the freezer is full, the energy consumption to maintain the temperature is lower;
- Use the washing machine with a full load and at low temperatures. Doing laundry at temperatures no higher than 30°-40°C is good for almost any garment and allows for less energy needed to heat the water. Use short or ECO cycles present on new generation appliances that allow energy savings;
- Is the dishwasher really necessary? For a single or a couple, perhaps you can avoid and wash some dishes by hand, but in the case of a large family unit then it is better to use it fully loaded and prefer quick cold or low temperature washes.
Since the hot air drying phase is the one that absorbs too much energy, you can avoid it by lowering the door immediately after the washing phase so as to favor natural drying;
- The dryer is another extremely energy-intensive appliance. In general, clothes dry better in the open air using the sun and wind, but if you do not have a balcony or if the environmental conditions of rain, humidity and temperature do not allow you to hang out and dry the clothes outside, the dryer becomes absolutely essential and it is good to use it in moderation;
- To save money with the air conditioner instead of the cooling function, set the dehumidification function with a maximum temperature of 5 or 6 degrees lower than the outside one. Switch off the appliance when the room has reached the desired temperature;
- The boiler temperature does not necessarily have to be set at 80°C also because we generally mix it with cold to have a good water temperature, so we can safely opt for a lower temperature around 60°C.
Prefer the shower to the bath; a nice "hot bath" involves the consumption greater than 3 or 4 times the quantity of both water and energy to heat it;
- The hairdryer and the hair straightener are devices that consume a lot of energy, but if it is more difficult to do without the hair dryer (especially in winter), for the straightener instead you can try to limit its use perhaps to special occasions.
- The iron is highly energy-intensive and it is preferable that it is used only when it is really necessary.
You can think of optimizing the use of the iron in various ways ranging from its maintenance (periodically removing limescale) to the level of wrinkling of the garments to be ironed; the latter depends on the way in which we hang the clothes during drying so just spread them in order to keep the heaviest part down and prevent them from creasing more than they should.
How to reduce the energy waste of home heating and air conditioning
- Isolate the rooms to be heated (or cooled) as much as possible to avoid the dispersion of heat (or coolness) by keeping the doors closed and replacing the seals on doors and windows to avoid drafts.
In summer, instead of turning on the air conditioner immediately, try to keep the shutters lowered already in the morning in rooms where there is no very strong insolation.