Sustainability, Energy and Environment Community

University of Colorado Boulder


use less, choose cleaner

Ideally, you'll reduce your energy consumption before switching to cleaner, renewable sources like solar or wind (if available in your area). But going straight to renewables is still a great option.


Reducing my electricity usage at home

Portrait of Rob Motta

Rob Motta


My wife and I started out with the small things – switching out almost all our bulbs to CFL/LED, and getting in the habit of only having the lights on in the room we were in.

We installed a clothes line outside (for summer) and one in the basement (for winter) and stopped using our dryer. If you dry clothes inside make sure you monitor indoor humidity so it doesn’t get too high. Humidifier manufacturer Aprilaire has some recommendations (PDF file).

Then we planted some trees to shade our concrete patio and part of our house (that made a big difference). We also installed exterior window blinds to block the hot afternoon sun, and since we live in Colorado where the nights are cool, we installed a whole-house fan which we use to cool the house down at night and early morning. Finally, we installed high-efficiency DC ceiling fans, and a bedroom A/C unit.

With those changes we found that we virtually never run the whole house A/C anymore. The net result was that our electricity usage, according to our utility company, was less than three-quarters of the similar sized houses around us – including those that had solar. When all that was done, we put the icing on the cake and installed solar – so our net electricity usage is now zero.

Then we started on the home heating side, but that’s another story…

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