Are you looking for ways to reduce your electric bill? Or probably, you want to make your home more energy-efficient? The good news is, it isn’t really hard to save electricity — in fact, it doesn’t require much effort and cost.
Why Energy Conservation Matters
Today more than ever, homes in the U.S. use more air conditioning, appliances, and electronics. With so much dependence on electricity, you’ll be surprised that 58% of all the energy produced for homes is wasted. And you’re probably thinking, why should I care if we waste energy?
Besides making unnecessary payments on your electric bill, energy needs to be conserved to save resources for longer use.
According to a 2020 report of the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), fossil fuels remain to be the largest source (40%) of electricity generation in the country. Steam turbines and gas turbines all use natural gas to generate electricity.
It’s a known fact that fossil fuels are a non-renewable energy source and producing them has negative effects on the environment. In addition, when fossil fuels are burned to create energy, greenhouse gas emissions are produced, and in turn, cause climate change.
When you become more mindful of your electric use, the lower the energy your household requires. In your own little way, you can contribute to preserving the environment. So now the question is, how can you lessen your electric consumption? Here are our tips…
Ways to Conserve Energy at Home
1. Unplug energy-draining appliances
Did you know that you have vampires inside your home? Nope, they’re not the ones that you see in horror films, but the ones that suck out electricity without you knowing it.
Plugged appliances that are on standby use up to 75% of their electricity consumption. That means they‘re drawing electricity even if they’re turned off.
A simple inspection around your home will show you how many kitchen appliances, electronics, etc. are plugged in and are consuming unnecessary energy. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), appliances on stand-by make up 10% of a typical household’s electric bill.
Unplugging unused electronics, like computers, chargers, and TVs can help conserve a considerable amount of energy. This may not have a great impact on your energy costs, but it is a quick small step towards an energy-efficient home.
2. Turn off lights
Another simple way to conserve energy is to turn off the lights when leaving a room. Building this habit saves energy and money as well.
Take for example, a 60W incandescent bulb uses 0.06 kWh of electricity per hour. If your electric rate is 13 cents per kWh, this bulb alone costs you $7.8 after using it for 1,000 hours. But what if you have 10 incandescent bulbs and you turn them off for five hours a day, that’s already considerable savings on your annual electric expenses.
3. Switch to energy-efficient lighting
The DOE estimates that by replacing five of the most used light fixtures in your home with ENERGY STAR lighting, you can save $45 on lighting costs each year. Newer bulb types, like compact fluorescent lamps (CFL), halogen incandescent and LEDs, are far more energy-efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs.
Although these lights will cost more upfront, they translate to more savings because they use less energy and lasts longer than incandescent lighting. LEDs for example, use only 20% to 25% of the energy used to power a traditional incandescent bulb and they last up to 25 times longer, too.
Another sure way to cut costs on lighting is by using dimmers. They not only help set the mood but can also extend the longevity of the light bulb. If you’re thinking of replacing some of your light switches with dimmer styles, call a qualified electrician to make the proper installation.
4. Go full loads
Although your washing machine and dishwasher may be marked energy-efficient, they still require a huge amount of electricity to work.
A quick way to efficiently run these appliances is to run them with full loads. Make it a habit to gather your laundry together and wash them all at once to lessen the number of times that you use the washer every week. The same goes with your dishwasher — the less often you use it, the more electricity you conserve.
In addition, instead of using the dryer, you can save energy by drying your clothes naturally under the sun. With your dishwasher, you can skip the heated drying cycle and manually dry with a dishcloth or just simply pop the dishwasher door open and allow your dishes to air dry — it is as hygienic but is more energy-efficient.
5. Increase refrigerator’s energy efficiency
There’s a huge chance that your fridge’s temperature is set lower than it needs to be. Nope, they don’t need to be extra cold, and in fact, a fridge that is set 10 degrees lower uses up to 25% more energy.
Anywhere between 35-38 degrees for the fridge and 0 to 5 degrees for the freezer is enough to keep your food from spoiling.
Another tip is to make sure that your fridge is placed in a cool space with some air to breathe. The way you position your fridge has a direct impact on how it uses electricity. Make sure it’s far away from heat sources in the kitchen like ovens or heaters and is also away from direct sunlight. Also, check if there is at least 5cm of free space on the back and the sides for proper ventilation. Without this gap, the fridge will not efficiently release heat from the compressor, thus making it work harder to keep the temperature inside cool.
6. Reduce air leaks
In a recent 2021 report, the EIA estimated that over 50% of a typical household’s energy consumption was used for space heating and air cooling. That means more than half of the amount on your electric bill is drawn by your air conditioning or HVAC. It only makes sense to be mindful of your usage of these appliances if you want to conserve electricity and cut your energy costs.
One way to efficiently use your cooling or heating system is to make sure that your windows and doors are free from air leaks. If your windows aren’t properly sealed, your AC might be working double-time to cool your room as the air it produces keeps seeping out (the same goes with your heater).
Try to check your windows, doors, and other common sources of air leaks. Caulk and seal them to help your AC/HVAC to run more efficiently.
If your home has old windows and caulking will not do the job, you may want to consider replacing them with newer energy-efficient windows.
You can also save on cooling costs by setting your AC at 78 degrees. According to the DOE, this is the right temperature to balance energy savings and keep you comfortable at home.
(Additional tip: Never miss an AC maintenance schedule each year! This will help keep your air conditioning run efficiently for a longer period of time. Find AC or HVAC technicians in your neighborhood here.)
7. Consider smart home devices
Smart home technology has gained popularity recently because of the many benefits it provides. First, smart appliances make homes more energy-efficient, second they increase home safety, and third, they make life more convenient because you can control them even with the use of your smartphone.
One of the most used devices is a smart thermostat. With this technology in your home, it automatically adjusts the temperature of the room based on the time of the day and even motion inside the house. There are models that send energy reports to users based on usage patterns. These reports could be used as a guide to be more efficient in using cooling and heating appliances.
Another smart home devices that can definitely contribute to energy efficiency are smart lighting, which enables you to control the lighting via your smartphone. There are also smart outlets, which you can program to turn on or off at certain times of the day.
If you’re considering upgrading to smart home technology, the best way is to call licensed electricians near you to help you take care of everything — from installation to integration. Qualified electricians are trained to install these smart techs in your home, so you save yourself from the hassle of figuring out what’s what.
Prior to installation, make sure to also have your electrical system checked by a professional electrician to make sure that it’s ready to take on the load of smart home devices.
Remember, conserving electricity is not just about cutting costs on your energy bill, it also has a direct impact on the environment. By paying attention to how you use electronics, and by building simple habits like turning off the lights when leaving the rooms all contribute to a more energy-efficient home.
Practice the tips above and you’ll notice significant changes in your electric bill, plus you’re doing a whole lot of good for the earth, too.