Flip the switch

We’re all looking for ways to reduce our energy use, saving both money and natural resources. However, anyone who utilizes solar energy in their home is especially conscious of the energy that they use in the evening and at night.

That’s because while solar power has made leaps and bounds in efficiency, it still hasn’t perfected energy storage. This means that while your home can produce its own electric energy during the day, it’s forced to still utilize power from the utility company at night when there’s no solar power to be had. Often, the cost of evening energy is offset by excess energy produced during the day and sold to the energy company. However, anything you can do to lessen energy use at night is money in the bank! So here are some tips to minimize evening and night energy usage:

1: Eliminate Phantom Drain

Even after everyone goes to sleep, there are still some things in your house that are using electrical energy. The biggest culprit is probably your heating and cooling system, which you don’t usually want to turn off entirely at night. Other things, like the refrigerator and freezer, also need to keep running. However, there are some items in your house that are simply draining energy for no good reason. Anything still plugged into the wall–even if it’s not turned on–is leaching out trace amounts of energy. And while the amount is incremental from one minute to the next, it adds up when it’s happening with 40-50 devices, 24 hours a day.

In order to prevent this leakage, unplug kitchen appliances, and install power strips in high-use areas like a computer table or your entertainment center. Remember to turn off the power strip when it’s not in use!

2: Cook During the Day

Anything that creates heat requires large amounts of energy. That includes your oven, stove, and microwave… most of the things you use to cook! In order to save on evening energy costs, it’s wise to plan your meals early. Cook the most heat-intensive things for lunch, and plan dinner around something that can be prepared fresh, or fried up fast! Avoid over-using the microwave and eat together a little earlier when the opportunity presents itself.

3: Use Natural Temperature Control

Temperature control in your home is by far the biggest use of electric energy, and if you can cut back on that, it’ll take a big chunk out of your monthly energy bill. Thanks to Utah’s arid climate, evenings often cool off quickly, and opening up windows at dusk can circulate fresh, cool air throughout the house. Utilize fans when it makes sense, and close the blinds and curtains to prevent direct sunshine from heating up the interior of your home.

4: Watch Television Less

Another huge consumer of electrical energy in your home is your television set, and all its attendant accessories. Many of us tend to tune in for prime time, after the sun is down. And while there’s nothing wrong with enjoying your favorite show after a day of work, or gathering together for movie night, most of us could stand to cut back a little on the amount of television that we watch.

Instead, look for non-electric ways to enjoy your family’s company in the evenings. Play games together, talk about your day, or work on a group project.

Speaking of which, you can also cut back on energy by spending time together. You’ll want to have some lights on in the evening, but if each member of your family is engaged in their own private activity in a different room, you probably are using more energy than necessary.