Solar and alternative energy sources are blowing up around the world and, as a result, we’re reducing our overall energy consumption. This is great news, but things can be better. Understanding what uses up energy can help you be greener and more efficient while putting a little less strain on your bank account.
Below we’ll cover the top energy consuming devices in your home and what you can do to reduce their cost.
Let’s dive in…
The Biggest Energy Consumers
We all kind of already suspect the big energy consumers around our houses. But you may not know which ones actually costing you the most money every month. I’ve found this can lead to compulsively policing lights and things that really don’t add too much to your bottom line. With that said, here are the top culprits:
- The Fridge
- The TV
- The Washer and Dryer
- The AC
Now let’s figure out what we can do about these appliances to lower your monthly bill.
Depending on your fridge, you could be wasting over $100 on it every year. That may not sound like much but consider this on top of all the other appliances. At the end of the year, this can add up to some serious coin. And, that number is the average. If you have an older, less efficient fridge, this cost can go even higher.
It’s estimated that this appliance sucks up about eight percent of the energy your home uses. If you can cut this in half, that’s pretty good savings in my book.
There are a number of things you can do to reduce how much energy this appliance uses:
- Keep it away from hot areas that make it work harder.
- Don’t let direct sunlight hit the appliance.
- Close doors as soon as you can so you do not let too much cool air escape.
- Fix any broken or damaged seals because cool air can escape.
- Purchase an energy efficient refrigerator if you don’t already have one.
- Make sure you remove all ice build up because it reduces the efficiency of your appliance.
- Try to reduce the amount of produce and other food products in your fridge to make it work a lot less.
Some of these suggestions might be difficult to get used to, like having less food, but that can also help reduce food waste because you’ll be forced to buy only what you plan on eating that week. Keeping it away from hot areas and avoiding sunlight exposure may seem strange at first too. After all, it’s an insulated box designed to keep hot air out. But, this insulation works both ways.
If you heat the outside of the fridge from cooking near it or direct sunlight, it heats the fridge and insulation which causes the fridge cooling system to work harder.
Televisions have gotten better about reducing energy consumption but they still have a ways to go. You shouldn’t be surprised to find out that the TV is an energy consumer that can cost up to $300 a year to run. And if you’re like most of us, you have more than one TV in your home which compounds the cost.
The following are some things you can do to try to reduce the amount of energy you allow your TV to use:
- Disconnect the TV electric plug when not in use.
- Reduce the amount of TV watched per day.
- Replace your television if it’s not energy efficient.
- Find alternative entertainment options, such as outings or game nights.
- Cut down on the number of TV’s in your home.
Yes, making some of these changes is going to be hard, especially if you love TV, but it can help you be more green. By reducing the amount of TV watched per day you can reduce your bill significantly. Think about it, if you generally watch four hours a day and reduce it to one, you’re cutting your bill by 75%. And if you do this with every television in your home, you’ll save hundreds of dollars every year.
Plus, life has a lot more to offer than just TV entertainment. You can get outside more, do things with the family, take walks and get in shape. It’s a win-win because you’re saving money and being more active.
Washer & Dryer
Other appliances you need to pay attention to are your washer and dryer. Both machines release a ton of greenhouse gas emissions each year. These greenhouse gasses contribute to many negative effects in our environment including global warming. The emissions alone are enough to make you get more efficient, but they can also cost more than $100 to use every year.
Finding a way to reduce their use is definitely in your best interest. The following are a few tips to help you do just that:
- Develop a pre-soak or pre-treat routine so that you don’t have to wash items more than once.
- Get used to the idea of washing big loads of clothes rather than small loads.
- Consider washing smaller items by hand whenever possible.
- Try to replace your machines with energy star or energy efficient machines.
- Avoid putting wet clothes in the dryer because they take longer to dry.
- Maintain your machines because faulty machines usually waste more energy.
- Use front loading machines.
Some of these ideas may not seem too enticing, like washing small items by hand. But think of all the good you are doing for the earth, and a little work never hurt anyone.
Front loading machines tend to use less water and in general, they’re more energy efficient. Front loading washers also typically have a higher spin speed which results in dryer clothing items at the end of the wash cycle. This means it takes less time and energy to dry them. That’s great because it saves you money on washing and drying.
You’re probably not going to want to hear this… but your heating and cooling system makes up about 40 percent of all the energy your home uses. Think about that for a moment, keeping in mind how much energy the other appliances mentioned here use.
While I’m not a fan of 80 degree houses, I think we can do some work to lower your bill without sacrificing too much on comfort.
The following are a few things you can do to reduce the amount of energy used by your A/C:
- Replace your AC system with energy star devices.
- Close doors and windows to ensure all air remains inside the house.
- Ensure that window seals are in good shape. This is a big factor in keeping your home insulated.
- Have a home inspector check your home for defects, such as cracks where air could escape.
- Make sure you insulate your home well to keep treated air inside your home as much as possible.
- Use nature effectively, like letting sunlight in for heat or placing trees around your home for shade.
- Close vents in rooms that are not in use; be sure to close those rooms as well.
- Install solar panels on your home so you can power your AC with energy from the sun.
Obviously, you’re going to have to make sure your family is on board when it comes to applying some of these suggestions. After all, you don’t want your kids leaving the front door open when you are trying to reduce energy costs. Try to communicate the importance of energy efficiency so they understand why you’re doing this.
Additionally, if you’re curious about using solar energy to heat and cool your home in a way that’s completely free, you’ll want to look into passive solar energy. This type of energy is where you use the natural sunlight to heat your floors during the day in order to have a warm house at night. Conversely, you can do the opposite if you live in warmer climates and don’t need the heat. Planting trees for shade, installing proper window and window shades, etc.
By reducing the energy consumption of the above devices, you’ll see your energy bill start dropping and, in some cases, it can drop significantly. If you apply the above methods, you’ll find yourself saving several hundred and possibly into the thousands of dollars each year. You can put this money aside for kids college funds, retirement, etc. over the next few decades, you’ll have a very serious chunk of change in the bank and you’ll be helping the environment along the way.
At the end of the day, it takes a commitment to reduce both energy costs and our carbon footprint so share this information with others because creating an energy efficient world is a community effort.
Brad Ormsby: Brad is a popular solar blogger who works for SunPower for The Solar Quote. He enjoys writing about solar panels, energy efficiency and green living. If you’re in need of solar panels in Stockton or just want to catch up, check out SunPower by The Solar Quote.