5 Bright Ideas to Save Energy


Your house is riddled with leaks. No, not water – energy. If you could hear these leaks, you’d hear quite a sizzle. Here are three simple ways to (un)plug those leaks.

1. Just how much electricity do all your appliances use? The best way to learn is to invest in an electricity monitor that updates every few seconds, such as the Efergy Energy Saving Meter (about $90 from Nigel’s Eco Store) or the more stylish Wattson. Click the kettle on, and marvel at the power it demands. Or go round the house switching off everything you can think of, and check the meter to find…

2. …those standby settings on your electronic gear are more of a drain than you’d ever expect – up to 15% of all the wasted power in your home! Government programmes like the U.S. Energy Star initiative have been putting pressure on manufacturers to improve or even eliminate the scourge of “phantom power” in all but a few items (such as TV recorders or alarm clocks). In the meantime, turning off all these devices can be a chore  – and this is where the Belkin Conserve Surge Protector comes in handy. One click will cut all the power to six attached devices (leaving two additional devices on permanent standby, if you choose).

Look to candles to add charm and warmth while you entertain friends in the evening or curl up with a book in the late afternoon. Beeswax and soy candles – free of parabens – are healthful, eco-friendly and create an inviting ambiance in your home.

How much power could you save by making the most of natural light? How early do you turn the lights on in the evening? Try shifting furniture around to make the windows the focus of your room. Experiment with reflective surfaces like glass and mirrors, aiming daylight into those gloomy corners. Or install sun pipes into your roof – devices that capture and reflect sunlight down a tube to form a brilliant electricity-free radiance in your wall or ceiling (here’s the range offered by Monodraught Ltd.). My thanks to those bright sparks at Reduce Reuse Recycle!

5. Use energy-efficient LED and/or CFL lighting, of course! Just be sure to recycle properly to avert unintended chemical contamination.

Image: reclaimed tree trunk lamp courtesy VivaTerra

Mike Sowden

Mike Sowden is a freelance writer based in the north of England, obsessed with travel, storytelling and terrifyingly strong coffee. He has written for online & offline publications including Mashable, Matador Network and the San Francisco Chronicle, and his work has been linked to by Lonely Planet, World Hum and Lifehacker. If all the world is a stage, he keeps tripping over scenery & getting tangled in the curtain - but he's just fine with that.