This Sunday on April 22, we’ll celebrate the best planet in the universe—Earth! In the busy world we live in, it’s easy to forget to care for our planet and monitor our energy usage, so take some time this week to consider how your home uses energy. The Earth will love you for it!
Photo by Wikimedia Commons
Your home’s appliances can secretly suck up more energy than you realize, which can not only increase the size of your environmental footprint, but also the size of your utility bill! The good news is that you can reverse these effects by taking the proper steps to ensure your household items are running properly. Learn how energy efficient your favorite household items are and how to improve them, which will appease both mother nature and your wallet.
How energy efficient is your HVAC system?
Your HVAC system consumes almost half of your home’s energy, so you want to make sure it’s working properly to avoid either wearing out your HVAC system or overusing an inefficient system.
You also want to make sure that your air conditioner is the right size, because an air conditioner that is either too big or too small will reduce your HVAC system’s efficiency.
According to energystar.gov, you or an HVAC specialist should give your system a yearly maintenance check up by tightening electrical connections, lubricating moving parts and inspecting the condensate drain.
Your HVAC system will be less efficient if your system’s air ducts are not sealed well, so it’s important to check your ducts too.
It’ll also be less efficient if you have a clogged air filter, so make sure to clean your air filters regularly!
Additionally, you can reduce how much work your HVAC system does by:
- Getting a programmable thermostat
- Using your ceiling fan
- Closing your curtains and blinds on hot, sunny summer days
Check out these 7 tips for making your home energy efficient to spark some fresh ideas on how to get the most from your HVAC system’s work!
How energy efficient is your water heater?
When you go to take a shower after a long day or wash your hands, you expect warm water to stream from the faucet, and in most cases, it does. Your water heater is constantly working to produce warm water for bathing, washing dishes and doing laundry. It is estimated to account for 14-18% of a home’s energy use, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Since a typical water heater stores water heated to a set temperature, Energy.gov suggests lowering your heater’s temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce the risk of unnecessary overheating and standby heat loss. You can also improve your water heater’s efficiency by better insulating your water heater.
How energy efficient is your dehumidifier?
In areas with a lot of humidity, such as the Southeastern region of the U.S., dehumidifiers play an important role in making a home comfortable. Although dehumidifiers aren’t the biggest energy consumers in your home, they can still cost you when running nonstop.
To prevent additional energy consumption, turn off your dehumidifier when the room is comfortable and humidity outside between 20-30%. Also remember that dehumidifiers are not effective when temperatures are lower than 65, so keep your usage to warmer times of the year.
How energy efficient is your gas fireplace?
7632-17 Freedom model by Schult -- Clayton offers electric and gas fireplaces
A traditional gas fireplace uses air from inside your home to burn natural gas and then releases the excess fumes outside through the flue in the chimney.
With glass doors separating your home’s interior from the fire, a direct-vent fireplace is a more efficient and safer alternative. The direct-vent fireplace uses outdoor air for combustion rather than indoor air like the traditional gas fireplace. It also has glass doors that allow the heat to pass through, but not the dangerous gases which are vented back to your home’s exterior.
Opting for an energy efficient fireplace will save you money in the long run compared to having a traditional fireplace. Naturally, it depends on the type of fireplace you have in your home, but an energy efficient natural gas fireplace can even compete in efficiency with standard high-efficiency furnaces.
You also need to consider, does your fireplace leak air when you’re not using it? Making sure you have glass doors and an air tight damper are important to making sure your fireplace doesn’t leak air when you’re not using it.
How energy efficient is your refrigerator?
The Laramie model by Schult
The year, model and size of a refrigerator determines how energy efficient the appliance is. Older models from 1990-1992 can use an annual average of over 1500 KWH, which translates to more than $100 added to your annual utility bill.
According to efficiencyvermont.com, you can save over $100 a year by updating to a newer refrigerator, and you can save even more with an ENERGY STAR® refrigerator. If you want to lessen your environmental footprint and cost, opt for a newer ENERGY STAR® model.
Although we’ve come a long way in energy usage due to ENERGY STAR® appliances, you can still cut back your energy usage by using only one refrigerator in your household. This will cut costs all around due to less drink and food storage space you’re trying to cool!
How energy efficient is your TV?
Jubilation model by TRUmh
If you don’t already know about phantom energy, now is the time to get acquainted with the phenomenon. The fact is our electronics and small appliances cost us more just by being plugged into power outlets than they do when they are even in use. Devices such as TVs, computers, coffee makers, slow cookers, blenders, phone chargers and more cost an average of $100 per household just by being plugged into outlets when you’re not using them!
To combat phantom energy loading, use a power strip for these devices and switch it off when they aren’t in use.
How energy efficient are your dishwashers and clothes washers?
Both dishwashers and clothes washers consume a large amount of energy due to their need for warm water. These appliances use a lot of warm water in a short amount of time relative to the amount of energy required by the water heater to heat it.
Waiting until you have a full load of dirty dishes to start a load can cut back on the amount of energy used by your dishwasher. Handwashing the larger dishes will also save more room for a load full of smaller ones! You can also save some electricity if you choose an air dry cycle instead of a heat dry cycle on your washer.
Saving some energy with your washer isn't difficult either. By using cold water for your laundry, your clothes won’t shrink or blend colors!
You should also wait to start a load until you have enough laundry to fill up the washer. Both tactics will save you from unnecessarily using hot water when washing your clothes.
Another way to cut back on your home’s energy usage is by opting for ENERGY STAR® certified appliances. These appliances can use as little as half of the amount of energy regular appliances do, which will help your utility bill and the Earth.
Using energy efficient appliances can save you money over time! In honor of Earth Day, consider energy efficient appliances for your next home purchase or even updating the appliances in your current home. Mother Earth and your wallet will both thank you.