Whether the motivation is to go “green” or to just save some energy, taking steps to conserve energy in the home has become almost an essential. Socially speaking, finding ways to save energy is looked upon with approval, a positive step towards decreasing the amount of fossil-fuel related pollutants in the air and reducing dependence on foreign sources of energy.
Financially, energy-saving strategies can make a big difference in household budget expenses and, on a larger scale, the budgets of communities, cities and towns, even the entire country. State and federal government agencies have implemented a host of incentives to encourage people to take steps in an energy-saving direction, including tax breaks and benefits.
Energy-saving tips for the home
Taking steps to save energy in the home should begin with an evaluation of energy use. On average, space cooling in a home accounts for almost one-fifth of the total electrical consumption, with a central air-conditioning unit consuming between 300 and 900-kilowatt hours per month. Investing in good home insulation will help cooling appliances to work more efficiently and run less often while still cooling effectively. Checking for leaks throughout the house can also make a big difference in both cooling and heating bills; check for and fill leaks in the seams of the ceilings, walls, as well as around fixtures and outlets throughout the home; install custom-made shutters on windows and weather-stripping around doors. Finally, adjusting the thermostat up even one degree during warm weather or down one degree in cold weather can significantly impact the level of energy consumption.
Lighting energy closely follows cooling in the consumption department. Nearly 15% of energy consumption is attributed to lighting within the home, so taking steps to be more energy-efficient in this area is vital. Energy-efficient halogen bulbs, CFLs or LEDs can make a huge difference on a household’s energy bills with savings up to 80%. Getting into the habit of turning off lights when not in use can also save hundreds of dollars every year; installing dimmers on room lighting also helps to conserve energy.
Appliances that use the most energy
Refrigerators and freezers are top consumers of energy; they must obviously remain plugged-in and switched on at all times and, while high-efficiency refrigerators may average as little as 400-kilowatt hours per year, pre-EE units from the 1980s may use up to 200-kilowatt hours of energy per month.
Water heaters also top the list, using an average of 400-kilowatt hours per month depending on the degree of usage. Turning down the thermostat even a couple of degrees can make a big difference in the energy cost, as can taking shorter showers and using cold water to wash clothes.
Air conditioning units and heating systems have a wide range of consumption rates depending on the type of appliance or system being used, from some consuming a mere 200-kilowatt hours per month on the low end to electrical heating systems consuming 3,500-kilowatt hours or more per month.
Energy consumption isn’t limited to large appliances, however, some of the biggest consumers of electrical power are small appliances, with more than 300-billion kilowatt hours of electrical energy consumed every year by small electrical devices and motor-driven appliances.
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