By Amelia Willson, Guest Columnist
Saving energy is always a good idea. In some ways, it’s part of being a good neighbor. Reducing your household’s energy consumption reduces the strain on your city’s electrical grid.
But here’s the best part: making your bedroom energy-efficient nets you significant savings on your monthly utility bills. Talk about sleeping easy.
Follow these tips to save energy in your bedroom.
1. Let go of the A/C.
If you’re like most people, your air conditioner probably eats up a significant amount of your electric bill. You’ll save more if you’re willing to let your thermostat go a little bit higher in the summer, and a bit lower in the winter.
However, the optimal temperature for sleep is somewhere in the mid-60 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in a hot area, it’s going to get costly if you try to achieve that solely using the air conditioner. Likewise, if you live somewhere with icy winters, it can easily drop well below that range.
Make up the difference by finding other ways to cool or warm yourself. Try some of the tips below.
2. Use ceiling fans instead.
Ceiling fans are twice as efficient as A/C – they cost about half as much as running your A/C, and provide the same effect. Standalone oscillating fans also create a nice, breezy effect for hot summer nights.
If it’s cool outside, use it to your advantage. Sleep with the windows open, and consider using a window fan to help funnel more of that cool outside air in.
During the winter, switch your ceiling fan direction to clockwise. Clockwise pulls hot air down from above, while counterclockwise keeps things cool.
3. Watch your windows.
Windows are one of the biggest energy leaks in a home. Each year, inspect your bedroom windows and re-caulk or seal any gaps you find. These gaps make it harder for your A/C to do its job efficiently, forcing you to run it longer than necessary. Even if you’re not using the A/C, a cracked window lets hot or cool outside air flow in.
Replace single-pane windows with double-pane windows. That second pane adds insulation, helping you maintain the temperature of your bedroom and protecting it from outside forces, whether hot or cold. Keep an eye out for the ENERGY STAR label and review the NFRC ratings for the window before buying (certain ratings may be better for your bedroom, depending on where you live and the direction of your window).
4. Stay insulated.
Blackout curtains can help you sleep better, while also helping you maintain the temperature of your bedroom. During the summer, use these to block out hot sunlight. During the winter, keep them open during the day for natural heat from the sun, and close them at night for extra insulation.
Now, keep your bedroom temperature as consistent as possible by closing the door. Also close any other doors within the bedroom, such as to a closet or an attached bathroom. You want to avoid increasing the size that needs to be cooled or heated.
5. Switch up your bedding.
You’ve heard of winter bedding before, right? Certain materials are designed to trap (or not trap) heat better than others.
During the summer, stay cool with breathable linens. Look for ones made of all-natural or organic materials. Then, switch to winter bedding during the colder months. This might include extra blankets or heavier down comforters made of flannel.
For example, an electric blanket can reliably warm your sheets, winter bedding or not. Low-voltage options are designed to work more efficiently with your electricity, producing less energy drain. If you prefer a regular-voltage option but want to stay as energy-efficient as possible, use the blanket to warm your sheets just before getting into bed. Then turn it off and unplug it once you hop in.
Just like bedding, mattresses made of different materials stay cooler or warmer than others. If you live in a hot area year round, or happen to naturally sleep hot yourself, a cooling mattress will prevent night sweats even with a higher temperature reading. Opt for latex mattresses or innerspring beds, and avoid memory foam mattresses – these are notorious for trapping heat.
6. Sleep naked.
During the summer, don’t add extra heat with pajamas. Plus, sleeping naked is actually recommended by sleep experts. Sleeping naked facilitates your body’s natural thermoregulation process, allowing you to enjoy more restful sleep.
For best results, wear nothing but socks. Socks aid the thermoregulation process by keeping your extremities warm as your body redistributes heat.
7. Maintain air ducts and filters.
Replace your air filters quarterly or twice a year.
Whenever you do this, take the time to clean out your air duct, too. The dirt and dust buildup reduces the efficiency on your heating and A/C, but it also makes sleep less restful for you – letting allergens and dust mites creep into your bedroom.
8. Upgrade your light bulbs.
Incandescent light-bulbs are out of fashion, and for good reason – they’reenergy hogs.
Replace any incandescent light bulbs in your bedroom with light emitting diodes (LED) or compact fluorescent lamp bulbs (CFL). Not only do these use 25 to 80% less energy, but they also last 3 to 25 times longer!
If you’re concerned about setting the mood, not to worry. Many energy-efficient light bulbs now come in a variety of hues and strengths, perfect for bedroom lighting.
It goes without saying that you should also turn the lights off in your bedroom whenever you’re not using them.
9. Remove the electronics.
Electronics are bad for sleep. To your brain, these bright blue-light emanators are like mini suns in your bedroom, tricking your brain into thinking it’s daytime. You’ll enjoy more restful sleep if you demote televisions, computers, and portable electronics to other rooms in your home.
If you just can’t bear to be apart, at least unplug any that you keep in your bedroom. lectronic chargers still consume energy whenever they’re plugged in, although less so than when they’re in use.
If you need an alarm clock, use an app on your phone instead of one you have to plug into the wall.
10. Think outside the bedroom, too.
Depending on how high up your bedroom is, plant foliage or trees outside to block part of your window from the sun. These add a nice touch to your landscape, and they’re pleasing to look at from the inside as well.