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How One Family Cut Their Energy Use by 85%

Sometimes the best way to motivate your family about saving energy is to tell them a true story of how someone else did it.

Kara Stiff, an author at Resilience, a website dedicated to living successfully with contemporary social issues, including the decline of cheap energy, figured out how to cut her family’s energy usage by 85%.

Her family of 4 uses an average of 4.7 kWh per day, and their electric bill never tops $32 per month.

For reference, Kara and her family live in North Carolina, a state where the average household uses a little more than 36 kWh per day.

You don’t have to use all of her techniques. Some may simply not be feasible for you. But do take a minute to learn what she and her family did and apply what works best for you:

1. Bought an Energy Star Front-Load Washer…But No Dryer

Yes. Kara hangs all her clothes out to dry. Even though it can rain for weeks at a time in North Carolina. And even though it’s frequently humid.

She does dry her clothes a couple times per year at the local laundromat while she runs other errands.

She doesn’t mind hanging clothes out to dry. For her, it’s kind of a time to escape and decompress from the rest of life.

As an added benefit, the clothes usually smell better and last longer.

And the Energy Star compliant washer speaks for itself. Washing and drying uses about 13% of your home’s energy. So, it’s a worthwhile place to look for savings.

2. Put a Stake in Energy Vampires

Energy vampires, which are electronic devices and appliacnes that use energy while plugged in but not actually in operation, are another leading user of energy.

Kara and her family completely switch off the giant computer screen they use as a TV all day long. They have it on a specific switch they know turns it off completely.

Additionally, Kara and her family make sure they only have the devices in their home that they actually need.

For example, they have just the one television set. They don’t have a dishwasher because they don’t believe it actually saves them time.

They also don’t have an electric refrigerator, stove, oven, or internet. And needless to say, they don’t have all the internet-connected devices.

However, she also admits that you might have a genuine need for those things. Her point is that you need to carefully consider whether such things actually add value to your life, or if they just distract you and actually cost you more time and money.

3. How She Keeps Heating and Cooling in Check

Your heating and cooling uses about half of all energy that you consume around your home.

Kara and her family make sure to use ceiling fans, which make you feel 5 degrees cooler and use very little electricity.

In her current home, they have a wood-burning stove to keep warm. She uses a camp stove powered by gasoline to do her cooking outside during the summer, which keeps heat out of her home, and therefore, keeps her home cooler.

She also has had her house specially designed to be minimally dependent on heating and cooling. For example, it’s been built slightly into the side of a hill so it uses the earth to keep cool during summer and warm during the winter. She admittedly does run a small window AC unit 2-5 hours per day to help with cooling during the summer.

So clearly, Kara and her family take this to the extreme.

What do you think?

Is she nuts? Does she inspire you to go to the extreme?

You and your family can clearly learn and adapt from her. And now that you know what’s possible, you can add what you like to your own energy savings strategy.

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