Green energy is like a second language to Californians. With previous Governor Jerry Brown signing ambitious climate change laws into power, The Golden State is dedicated to pursuing aggressive clean energy goals, like achieving 100% clean electric power by 2045.
Yet energy findings from Greater Palm Springs area homeowners tell a different story. A 2014 analysis of energy use by The Desert Sun shows homeowners in eight of the valley’s nine cities in the Coachella Valley were wasteful when it comes to energy (compared to local electricity use predictions developed by researchers at UC Berkeley).
As a California homeowner, going green is about more than doing your part to protect the environment. Low-energy appliances can also play a big role in reducing your electricity bills every year.
On average, your home’s appliances like your washer, dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator, freezer, and humidifier account for 20% of your home’s electric bill. When you upgrade to energy efficient appliances, you can save around $575 per year on energy bills.
Most low-energy appliances are certified by ENERGY STAR, which means they’re also certified by the U.S. Department of Energy for using less energy than typical appliances. And while energy-efficient appliances can come at a price premium, they’ll save you money in the long term by reducing your electricity bills. In many cases, there are also state, local, or utility rebates that will decrease your out-of-pocket costs.
But simply swapping out your appliances isn’t the end of it. From upgrading to a smart thermostat to reducing standby power, here are 5 ways that Palm Springs homeowners can go green and save some green, too.
1. Install a Smart Thermostat
A smart thermostat is a Wi-Fi enabled device that automatically adjusts heating and cooling temperature settings in your home for the best performance while saving energy. If everyone used an ENERGY STAR certified smart thermostat, the world could save $740 million dollars per year on energy, along with reducing up to 13 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.
While every smart thermostat varies, all smart thermostats can help California homeowners have more insight, control, and convenience when it comes to heating and cooling their home, all while saving on energy bills. Most smart thermostats also share the following features and benefits:
- Smart thermostats learn your temperature preferences and create a schedule that automatically adjusts to energy-saving temperatures when you’re asleep or away from home.
- Geo-fencing allows your smart thermostat to know when you’re on the way home and automatically adjusts your home’s temperature to your liking.
- With Wi-Fi control, you can adjust your home’s heating and cooling remotely through your smartphone.
- Smart thermostats quickly enter a low-power standby mode when inactive.
- Provides insights about usage and temperature data that you can track and manage.
- Software updates ensure your smart thermostat is using the latest algorithms and energy-saving features available.
Some of 2019’s most popular smart thermometers include:
- Nest Learning Thermostat
- GoControl Z-Wave Thermostat
- Honeywell Home Wi-Fi Programmable Thermostat
- ecobee4 Smart Thermostat with Room Sensor
- Emerson Sensi Smart Thermostat
2. Upgrade Your Washer & Dryer
Your washer and dryer keep you from spending all Sunday hand-washing and hanging up your family’s clothes on the line, allowing you to make the most of your weekends in the beautiful Coachella Valley.
But when it comes to energy output, your dryer is the most energy-hungry appliance in your home.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, a regular dryer can use as much energy each year as a new energy efficient refrigerator, washing machine, and dishwasher combined! And if you have an older model, that number could be even higher.
Low-energy dryers use 20% less electricity, which can save you over $200 in electric bills over the energy efficient dryer’s lifetime. And when you pair it with an energy efficient washing machine, you can see savings on both your electric bill and your water bill.
A low-energy clothes washer uses around 40-50% less energy and about 55% less water than a conventional washer. You can also expect to save up to $50 per year on utility and water bills.
Not to mention that energy efficient, front-loading clothes washers use less laundry detergent than top-loading washers, saving you more money on week-to-week costs.
3. Revamp Your Refrigerator
Refrigerator technology has come a long way since your parent’s old harvest gold fridge. And it’s a good thing, because that old fridge can be one of the biggest energy-eaters in your house.
There are almost 200 million refrigerators being used across the United States today. If all refrigerators sold in the United States were ENERGY STAR certified, it could prevent 9 billion pounds of annual greenhouse gas emissions. That’s the equivalent to the emissions from more than 870,000 cars on the road!
By recycling your old refrigerator and replacing it with a low-energy refrigerator, you could save as much as $300 over the next 5 years. You can even use ENERGY STAR’s handy flip-your-fridge or freezer calculator to see how much you could save by upgrading to an energy efficient model.
4. Ditch the Old Dishwasher
Compared to your always-running fridge, you may only use your dishwasher once or twice a week. But the electricity and water needed to run a dishwasher cycle adds up.
California has a long and difficult history with drought. In fact, this summer is the first since 2011 that California has freed itself from drought.
A green dishwasher can save an average of 3,870 gallons of water throughout its lifetime. That’s because dishwasher technology has improved dramatically over the last decade.
New energy efficient models include several innovations that reduce energy and water consumption and improve performance, including things like:
- Soil sensors that test how dirty dishes are throughout the cycle and adjust to clean dishes with less water and energy use.
- Improved water filtration that removes food from the water, using less detergent and water throughout the cycle.
- More efficient jets use less energy to spray detergent and water over the dishes when cleaning.
5. Reduce Standby Power Load
While appliances that are on standby don’t use as much electricity as when they’re in use, it can still add to your carbon footprint and your energy bill. Appliances on standby account for around 3-10% of energy usage in your home.
So how can you reduce your standby power load? Follow the three easy steps below:
Use a Power Strip with Switches. You can use a power strip with on/off switches to plug in your appliances. For example, you can use a power strip in your living room for your TV, game system, and sound system, and in your office for your computer, printer, lamp, and phone charger. When you leave either of these rooms, you can flip off the power strip to turn all these appliances completely off.
Unplug Your Products. Another sure way to reduce your standby power load is to just unplug any products that you’re not using. This isn’t possible for things like your fridge (unless you want to buy new groceries every day). But there are many appliances that you may not need to have plugged in, like your microwave, toaster oven, lamps, and more.
Use ENERGY STAR Products. Many ENERGY STAR products have lower standby power than other low-energy products.
Living in the desert doesn’t have to be an energy challenge for Palm Springs homeowners. With new technology and some smart energy-saving strategies, you can do some good for the planet and for your wallet, too.