The rising cost of living in the USA in particular and elsewhere in general is a serious concern for almost everybody who wants to live within their budget. Among all their worries, energy bills top the list. Energy efficiency has, thus, become an economic necessity for every household.
Being energy efficient covers a wide spectrum of activities under its domain. It can be a big step like investing in solar panels which require a hefty long-term investment, or it might be a very small effort of turning off unnecessary lights in the house.
Energy Saving Tips
Let’s check out some useful tips about how you can reduce your energy bills:
1. Insulate Your House Properly
Sealing and insulating your home keeps it hot in winters and cool in summers. By installing weather strips on doors and sealing leaks, the air inside the room cannot escape and the air outside cannot enter.
There are various ways to enhance your home insulation. Use heat-shrink plastic window covering and seal air leaks with caulks and spray foam as air leaks may lower energy efficiency by 20%. If you have a central heating or cooling system in the house, insulate the ducts.
Most of the leaks occur at the point where the wall meets the attic floor and under knee walls. Plug and seal all the holes at these points. The most common types of insulation materials available for the attic are spray foam, loose-fill fiberglass, and cellulose and fiberglass batt.
2. Use LED Bulbs
By using LED bulbs, you can save a lot on energy bills. They have an estimated energy efficiency of 80-90% as compared to conventional light bulbs. The upfront cost of LED bulbs is higher, but their durability and efficient use of energy result in long-term savings. They also last 3 to 25 times longer than convention bulbs.
For better energy efficiency, the use of LED bulbs is increasing rapidly. According to the US Department of Energy (DOE), by 2030, LED lighting will achieve 84% share in the general illumination market. The DOE report further revealed that the total savings in dollars according to the current electricity price will be $26 billion by 2030, which is equivalent to the total electricity consumed by 24 million households today.
3. Use Smart Power Strips
The energy consumption of electronic appliances while on standby mode is a big obstacle in energy savings. It is estimated that 75% of the total energy consumed by electronic items is actually consumed when they are kept off but remain on standby. You should use advanced power strips to tackle this issue. These strips switch off an electronic product during periods of inactivity.
4. Maintain Your Air Conditioner
Servicing your air conditioner on a regular basis helps you maintain its energy efficiency. Routinely cleaning or replacing your air filters can reduce the consumption of your cooling system by 15%. The annual checking of its evaporator coil and its cleaning will also ensure that your AC will perform at the optimum level.
5. Replace Older Appliances
Old appliances lose much of their efficiency and need replacement. You will need to do a thorough search for finding energy-efficient replacements. There are certain guidelines you can follow for this purpose.
For example, if you are replacing a space heater, you should select one that can prevent itself from overheating and turn itself off when you are not home. A heater equipped with a programmable thermostat, timer and auto shut-off mechanism will be a great option. Likewise, there are high-efficiency water heaters that will provide you with warm water only when you want it. They can warm water quickly and stop burning fuel when not required.
6. Change Your Behavior
Behavioral change is very important if you want to live energy efficiently. This comes before any other energy efficiency measure that involves spending your precious money. Just by switching off all unnecessary lights, you can save a considerable amount of energy.
You can also change your habit of relying too much on energy-intensive appliances and start doing household chores manually. For example, instead of using a dishwasher, you can wash dishes by hand.
The habit of keeping TV or other appliances on standby mode when they are not being used is also an unnecessary drain on your energy bills. Another important behavioral change relates to your purchasing habit. Whenever you purchase an electrical appliance or a fuel-consuming device, always check for an energy efficiency certificate.
7. General Guidelines for Being More Energy Efficient
These are general measures which will ensure a marked improvement in the overall energy efficiency of your house. This list will look quite long to you, but I will recommend that you go through it and practice it meticulously. If you follow these guidelines, a noticeable improvement in energy efficiency will be evident in the shape of reduced energy bills.
- Turn off all appliances before going on a vacation (with the exception of critical appliances).
- Turn off 4G/3G and Bluetooth when not required because they utilize more energy.
- Keep your smartphone’s brightness low. It will consume less energy and will not require frequent charging.
- For cooking food, use a microwave instead of oven because it consumes 20% less energy.
- In winters, keep the curtains and blinds closed at night. This will keep cold air out. If your house is relatively cold, you can use thick curtains to increase its energy saving capability.
- Plant a tree, limiting the sunlight in summers. This will reduce your cooling requirement.
- Set the thermostat for your refrigerator between 38 and 42 degrees Fahrenheit and for your freezer between 0-5 degrees Fahrenheit for improved energy efficiency.
- Defrost your refrigerator with regular intervals and don’t let the ice build. The build-up of ice makes a refrigerator less efficient and increases its running cost.
- Use frontloading washing machines because they use less water and are less costly to operate.
- Keep your freezer full. An empty freezer will use more energy.
- Keep your furniture away from vents. It will allow more air to circulate. This airflow will improve your heating and cooling system and will definitely save energy cost.
Appliance Electricity Usage
When you receive an energy bill which is much higher than your expectation, you quite often do nothing except being frustrated. Have you ever thought which appliances are contributing most to this cost?
To begin with, you must have a clear understanding about how much energy various household appliances consume and what does this usage cost you. The wattage of most appliances is mentioned on the product or its packaging.
It is estimated that from the total energy used by the residential sector in USA, 35% is wasted. This further emphasizes the need for every consumer to know which appliances are most at fault for this behavior.
Air Heating and Cooling
For air conditioning and heating, energy saving can be achieved by using fans to keep the air moving or turning the thermostat at 78 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. You should also not block the vents. Replacing air filters is also an important measure to increase the efficiency of your cooling system.
Water Heating and Drying Clothes
Water heaters and dryers are the second highest contributors to your energy bill and, hence, need special attention. Water heaters run for 3 hours a day on average and consume 4500 watts. You should set your water heater at 120 degrees Fahrenheit or lower to reduce this cost. Furthermore, if the heater is old, it should be wrapped in an insulation jacket. The hot water pipes must also be insulated.
Refrigerators also contribute a sizeable amount to your energy bill because they are run for long periods. An average refrigerator uses 162 kWh per month if it is on for the whole day. You can enhance a refrigerator’s energy efficiency by regularly cleaning and maintaining its parts and not overloading it. The temperature must also be set at the manufacturer’s recommended level.
Use a Kill-A-Watt Device
In order to better monitor the energy efficiency of your electrical appliances, we recommend you use a kill-a-watt deice. This simple device counts amperes, watts and volts of your electrical appliances. The reading will appear on an LCD screen. It is an inexpensive device which lets you keep an eye on every electrical appliance and manage its usage for optimum energy efficiency.
Rising energy bills go hand in hand with rising worries. As a result, every consumer is now required to educate themselves about the pricing mechanism and the options available to manage the energy cost within their budgetary means.
The other significant requirement is to know how the energy efficiency of a house can be optimized. Since thermostats play a critical role in creating an energy-efficient system, every customer must be aware of how it can be programmed to obtain optimum efficiency.
We have covered all the fundamental requirements of an efficient energy system in quite a detailed manner. One thing which must always be kept in mind is that efficient energy management is not a personal requirement. Preventing the wastage of energy does not just help you save some bucks, but it is also a great service to the nation and humanity. Energy is a precious resource, and its undue waste is a great loss and harms the environment as well. Hence, being mindful of energy efficiency is not a personal need but rather your duty.