There are obvious ways to save energy on bills, such as installing a programmable thermostat or properly insulating your home from top to bottom. Then there’s alternative energy, like solar panels on your roof. Beyond that is a world of off-the-wall, out-of-the-box energy-saving ideas, which you may find surprisingly useful.
Pedal for Power
Pedal-A-Watt is a bike stand that turns human power into energy watts. A well-conditioned cyclist could generate up to 400 watts, which is enough to power small household appliances. Pedal-A-Watt says a quick, 20-minute ride could power your laptop for over an hour.
Put Plants on Your Roof
This refers to a vegetative layer grown on top of your home, also known as “green roofs.” Depending on the structure and surface area you’re working with, this could mean a two-inch covering or a flourishing park with trees. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a conventional rooftop can get up to 90°F warmer than the air temperature. Green roofs, on the other hand, absorb heat, cooling the surface to below that of the surrounding air temperature. This natural insulator means you’ll be less reliant on traditional heating and cooling systems, helping you save on energy bills.
Outfit Your Outlets
You’ve insulated your attic, basement and walls, but have you thought to clothe your outlets? What about your light switch panels? Well, it’s an option – and maybe a good idea. Covering these small, easily forgotten spots can help reduce drafts in your home. To create an airtight seal, you’ll need a pre-cut foam gasket that fits snuggly behind the outlet or switch plate. Look for a UL (Underwriters Laboratories) listed foam, which means it’s been tested for flammability and approved for application.
Text to Turn on the Lights
A 2012 study revealed American smartphone users ages 18 to 24 sent an average of 2,022 text messages per month. With that in mind, an innovator named Alexander Parker created a concept dubbed Push to Charge technology, which is based on piezoelectricity. Piezoelectricity is the electrical charge created by applied mechanical stress, or putting pressure on something. Parker’s idea is to utilize the effort of tapping buttons on a cell phone to generate watts. In theory, each button would create 0.5 watts every time it’s pressed. Doing the math, that means an average of 0.115 kW would be created each day, while most cell phone batteries require only about 0.012 kW a day to hold a charge. This same technology could be applied to keyboards to power a laptop that uses 15 to 45 watts per hour. Parker says his design uses all metal, so it’s recyclable, reusable and more efficient than using wall outlets as a source of energy. Though Push to Charge has yet to come to life in full form, piezoelectricity as a whole is still largely being studied for its potential applications.
Even if these unique – and somewhat quirky – concepts aren’t realistic for your home, hopefully they’ve inspired you to think beyond basic energy-saving tactics for the most money-saving benefit.