4 Expert Tips for Saving Energy at Home

Carla J. Peterman, Commissioner, California Public Utilities Commission

With climate change looming and utility bills soaring out of control, everybody wants to find ways to conserve energy and save a little money, which is good both for the environment and the wallet. So, whether you’re just trying to lower your power bill or you want to help the environment, I have some go-to tips for keeping your energy as low as possible at home.

Vents need their space

Do you have furniture blocking the vents? Move furniture away to give them some breathing room. This will avoid trapping air flow, wasting energy and posing a fire hazard.

Give your feet a treat

Rugs and carpeting help to insulate your home which keeps warm air from escaping and using up more energy. Plus they feel a whole lot more comfortable between your toes.

Lower the pressure

Water heating could be using a lot more energy than you realize. Lowering your water heater’s temperature and installing low-flow showerheads can be other great ways to conserve energy and money.

Unplug and unwind

Leaving charged smartphones and laptops plugged in wastes energy and can damage your battery. When your devices are fully charged be sure to unplug them as an easy way to save.

Alone, none of these tips will single-handedly save the environment, but together they can go a long way towards making a difference.

Gardening and landscaping are no longer just for those with a green thumb. Growing sustainably gives everyone a chance to bloom into a pro. Marketplace Events, producer of 52 home and garden shows, has turned to outdoor living experts featured at many of their events to bust the myths surrounding sustainable planting, giving everyone a blueprint to create an outdoor oasis without spending the entire season in rain boots and gardening gloves.

Myth: Growing plants is expensive and growing them sustainably is even more expensive.

Truth: It’s cost effective. “Sustainable landscaping is a trend that saves homeowners money,” Chris Lambton from DIY Network’s Yard Crashers states. “It’s as easy as reusing plants and materials.” It’s not about buying more, it’s about strategically buying what you need and using what you already have.

Myth: You need a lot of land.

Truth: You don’t need much space at all. Plant upside down. Grow cherry tomatoes in hanging baskets. Grow beans on a trellis. “Taking part in sustainable gardening seems like it would not apply to those in an urban setting,” says Tyler Wisler from HGTV’s Design Star, “but doing something simple like propagating some of your favorite vegetables is easy and economical. I especially love scallions and garlic because they are actually quite beautiful as well as delicious!”

Myth: It takes too much time.

Truth: Sustainable landscaping often takes more time in planning but less time in maintenance. “Using native plants will save you tons of time working in the yard,” says Matt Blashaw from DIY Network’s Yard Crashers. “Native plants have already adapted to your climate and will typically last through every season which limits the amount of replanting needed. They also don't need expensive chemical fertilizers and pesticides which will save you hundreds of dollars over the years.” Furthermore drought-resistant grasses require less mowing which gives you more time to enjoy the scenery.

Myth: A sustainable gardening project won’t make my world a better place. 

Truth: Sustainable landscaping can solve bigger issues. Plant landscaping strategically to create a windbreak to help insulate your home and cut energy bills. Use the water creating a rut in your yard to provide moisture to your garden beds. Think outside the (plant) box for what’s possible.

Myth: You have to be a pro to know where to start.

Truth: Most local nurseries can point you in the right direction on grasses, plants and trees that grow in native landscapes in your area. “Remember to keep it simple,” advises Jason Cameron, from DIY Network’s Desperate Landscapes. “Start with a small manageable project and work your way up. And try to choose low maintenance plants to begin.” And some of it is just common sense. To conserve water, use low-angle spray when watering a lawn. Oscillating sprinklers lose more water to evaporation.