Check out how much energy is used in the average American home, how California homes use energy, and costly daily habits in this infographic:
Read on to explore how American homes use energy and where you can conserve to cut the energy bill in any season.
Heavy Hitters: Heating and Cooling
With the summer months as a peak time for home cooling, many homeowners are noticing a spike in their energy bills. Combined with the same problem with heating in the winter, heating and cooling accounts for about half of the average home’s energy bill. When you take into account that the average American home spends about $2,200 on energy bills each year, finding ways to save energy on heating and cooling can result in major savings. Here are some tips to cut those costs by saving energy:
1. Install a programmable thermostat.
If you are leaving your heating and cooling system on while at work, dollars are being wasted every day on an empty house. A programmable thermostat can be set to match your daily schedule so that your system is shut off while you are away. Try programming your thermostat to turn off 30 minutes before you leave for work and to turn back on 30 minutes before you return home. Energy Star estimates that using a programmable thermostat can save up to $180 per year on the energy bill.
Tech find: The Nest Learning Thermostat. This thermostat uses sensors to learn your schedule and program itself to adjust your heating and cooling for when you are home and when you are not. It can also be controlled with an app on your phone. According to Nest, this thermostat can lower your heating and cooling bills by up to 20%.
2. Invest in programmable window blinds.
Upgrade your current window treatments to programmable blinds and you can keep your home cooler without lifting a finger. With varieties that can be programmed to open or close at certain times or even to close automatically if a certain amount of sunlight or temperature is achieved, programmable window blinds will help block sun at peak times to keep the interior cooler without using extra energy from the air conditioning.
3. Replace old HVAC systems with automated versions.
With automated HVAC systems, zones can be created within the house to concentrate energy usage only in areas of the home that are inhabited daily. These automated systems can keep main areas cool but can shut down lesser-used areas like guest bedrooms until the next time they’re used.
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4. Re-caulk and add weather strips around windows and doors.
If your house is poorly insulated, your heating and cooling is literally slipping through the cracks. Energy Star estimates that homeowners can save $200 a year on heating and cooling bills by sealing their homes and adding insulation.
5. Don’t forget the water heater.
The average household spends $400-600 per year on water heating. Update your water heater to a tankless gas water heater, and you can reduce water heating costs by up to 35% per year. The secret? This type of water heater only activates when in use and deactivates during other times.
If you can’t update your water heater right now, try setting your water heater temperature to 120 F or lower, wrap older water heaters in insulation jackets, and turn off electric heaters and turn down gas heaters while away on vacation.
Appliances Add Up
As a national average, about 30% of total home energy use is spent on a combination of appliances, including cooking appliances, clothes washers, dryers, dishwashers, televisions, computers, small electronics, and lighting. While many of these uses may seem small, making changes in these areas could add up to significant savings. Here are a few ways to save energy:
1. Automatic lighting
Some of the most common lighting controls are dimmers, motion sensors, and timers. Programming lights to automatically turn off if left on or keep lights dimmed at a lower level can help decrease energy use for indoor or outdoor lighting. Automatic lighting can especially help reduce energy bills if forgetting to turn off the lights before you leave is a common mistake.
2. Energy Efficient Appliances
The refrigerator, oven, washer and dryer, and dishwasher can all be energy suckers if they are older or standard models. Next time you need a replacement, buy an energy-efficient model to save on energy costs for these heavily used appliances.
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It’s also a good idea to change the way you use household appliances. For instance, washing clothes only in cold water and scraping dishes instead of rinsing them are both ways to cut down on the water and energy used in the home.
Overall, there seem to be two major ways to start saving energy and reduce the energy bill: change the product or change the habit. For example, replacing standard light bulbs with energy-efficient varieties will use about 75% less energy, but remembering to turn off the light when you leave the room will also help save. If you can’t manage a home overhaul right now, start by making gradual changes with the products you buy and work on ridding yourself of energy-sucking bad habits.