How To Save Energy: Become an Empty Nester
As President Obama noted in his “Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future,” which laid out his energy policy, a key to energy security is simple conservation. Although he has adopted an “all of the above strategy” toward boosting domestic energy production, which includes increased drilling as well as renewable energy technologies such as solar and wind, he has noted that “the easiest way to save energy is to waste less energy.”
That point was hammered home to me when my daughter recently moved out. Despite my constant hounding to turn off the lights, turn off the TV, turn off the computer, turn off the fans, stop standing in front of the open refrigerator, use cold water in the washing machine, etc., my reprimands fell on deaf ears — her deaf ears, and those of her small army of friends, who were trooping in and out all day and evening through the electric garage door, which was in continuous up and down motion. As many parents of teenagers and young adults can attest, it sometimes seemed as if I was spending all my time following her around the house turning off lights and appliances.
But despite the skirmishes over energy consumption, I was still absolutely floored when I got my June electric bill — the first after she had moved out. The household consumption for June was 616 kilowatt-hours, compared to 1,099 kilowatt-hours for May. In other words, the household’s electricity usage had been almost halved. The bill went from $174.15 to $85.04 – a monthly savings of $89.11, or 51 percent. To a penny-pinching single mother who is paying off college tuition bills, that’s a lot of money. I never calculated the difference after my son moved out, but if it was similar, which I suspect it was, I have probably reduced my electricity bill by two thirds or more. And the recent reduction would no doubt have been even greater had my daughter’s move occurred during the summer, since turning on the air conditioning unit and then leaving for the day seems to be her standard operating procedure.
Of course, I can’t really say that her departure has helped the national energy conservation effort, since she will no doubt continue to burn up kilowatt-hours elsewhere until the day arrives when she is the one who is paying the bills. But it does point out the stunning effectiveness of conservation as an energy-saving measure.
Now I’m eager to see what the difference is in my oil bill when cold weather rolls around.
– Stefanie Matteson