Energy Guide: Tips to Save Money and the Earth
It’s no secret that when it comes to energy use in homes, people use a lot! Running the AC when it gets hot, heating the home when it gets too cold, drying loads of clothes, turning on lights, heating up water for a shower, using electronics, and much more contribute to both a householder’s monthly bills and greenhouse gas emissions. Aside from obvious habit changes like simply turning off lights and resisting turning on the thermostat when it’s hot or cold, there are plenty of ways people can save energy in their homes.
The top energy consumers in a typical household are, in order, the heating system, air conditioner, water heater, lighting, washer and dryer, and then appliances like refrigerators, ovens, and electronics. While the use of most of these appliances is necessary in daily life, there are still many ways to reduce usage. With a few habit changes, the most prominent energy-users, the heating and cooling systems, can use as little energy as possible:
- On average, every degree a thermostat is raised during summer and lowered during winter saves about 5% on costs.
- Setting the thermostat to 68° in the winter (56° when leaving the house) and 78° (85° when leaving the house) in the summer will minimize usage while keeping the home at a comfortable temperature.
- Make sure all vents are kept open when heating or cooling the house to avoid creating resistance in the ducts which uses more energy to move the air to other spaces
- Try to avoid hard-starting the systems by lowering and raising the temperatures instead of turning it off when no one is home.
Water heating can be reduced by taking shorter showers (8 minutes or less), investing in a water efficient shower head which could save about 370 kWh a year, and washing clothes in cold water (make sure to set the washer to the cold-water wash setting if it has one).
Lighting accounts for about 7-20% of energy use in a home, so choosing the right bulbs can make a significant difference. Incandescent bulbs are the least efficient of all, so avoid those whenever possible. LEDs, though somewhat pricey, are generally the best option in any situation because they use the least amount of energy. CFL’s also use minimal energy, but they’re not as efficient and long-lasting as LEDs, and they aren’t dimmable or instant-on like LEDs.
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