The amount of energy Americans use continues to increase each year. Much of that energy is wasted, either by using too much or by not using it wisely. Wasting energy isn’t good for your budget – or the environment. Many of the energy sources we depend on, like coal and natural gas, can’t be replaced once they are depleted. Luckily, there are many ways to reduce your electricity usage without sacrificing your family’s comfort.
The biggest energy users in the average American household are heating and cooling, lighting, washers and dryers, refrigerators, and water heaters. You’ll notice significant savings by following these energy-saving tips:
1. Maintain Your HVAC Unit
Air conditioners and heaters use the most energy in your home and make up the largest part of your electricity bill. Maintaining your HVAC unit can lower energy consumption and extend the unit’s life. Keep blower components clean and remove debris from around the outside unit. Be sure to inspect, clean, or replace the air filter once a month. A service inspection from a licensed HVAC technician each spring and fall will extend the unit’s lifespan and keep it operating at maximum efficiency.
2. Use Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs
Many of us still have a bad habit of leaving the lights on when we exit a room. Lighting accounts for about 20% of the average homeowner’s electric bill or about $200 per year. In addition to turning off lights when leaving a room, installing energy-saving LED bulbs can reduce energy usage for lighting by approximately 25 percent. The cost of LED bulbs has dropped dramatically in recent years. While LED bulbs may still have a more expensive upfront cost, they are more durable, offer comparable or better light quality than other types of lighting, and are much safer than traditional incandescent bulbs.
3. Check Your Water Heater Temperature
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a water heater set to 140 degrees or higher can waste $36 to $61 a year in standby heat losses. Even worse, it can waste more than $400 to bring fresh water up to that temperature. Setting your thermostat to 120 degrees can offer significant energy savings and reduce the risk of scalding injuries.
4. Run Full Loads
One of the easiest ways to conserve energy is to wait for a full load before running your dishwasher or washing machine. Instead of using your dishwasher’s drying feature, consider letting your dishes air-dry instead. Washing your laundry in cold water can also save a significant amount on utility bills and make your clothes last longer.
5. Install a Programmable Thermostat
A lot of heating and cooling costs occur during the day when no one is at home. With a programmable thermostat, you can pre-set your home’s temperature for different times of the day. Homeowners can save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling bills by turning the thermostat back 7-10 degrees for 8 hours a day from its normal setting. With proper use, the EPA estimates that programmable thermostats can save about $180 every year in energy costs.
6. Use Fans with Your A/C
Using a ceiling fan can make a room feel up to 10 degrees cooler, and a fan uses 10% of the energy that a central air conditioner does. If you use air conditioning, a ceiling fan will allow you to set your thermostat about 4 degrees higher with no reduction in comfort.
7. Use Smaller Appliances
If you’re heating or cooking something small, use a smaller appliance like a microwave, toaster oven, or slow cooker. These small appliances use substantially less electricity than a conventional oven. Cooking with a conventional oven also adds unwanted heat to your home, forcing your air conditioner to work even harder.
8. Clean Your Dryer Vent
A clogged lint screen or dryer duct reduces the efficiency of your dryer, whether it’s an electric or gas model. The lint screen should be cleaned after each load and the exhaust duct at least once a year. A dirty lint screen can cause an electric dryer to use up to 30 percent more electricity, and lint buildup causes numerous household fires each year.
9. Upgrade to More Efficient Appliances
When you’re in the market for a new appliance, look for models with the best energy efficiency ratings. Energy Star certified products meet strict energy-efficiency standards to help consumers save energy and money. Many utility companies offer rebate incentives for homeowners who replace aging water heaters, central air conditioners, and other appliances with high-efficiency models.
10. Update Your Wiring
If cutting back on energy usage isn’t helping very much, it may be time to look at your electrical system. Aging electrical wiring may mean your home cannot keep up with the electrical demands of today’s modern appliances and electronics. Repairing outdated electrical equipment and rewiring your home ensures that your entire system is operating safely and efficiently. A skilled electrician will be able to assess your electrical system, recommend updates if necessary, and make suggestions on how to improve the overall energy efficiency of your home.
Call a Local Trusted Electrician
When you need electrical work for your home or business, call on Pallardy Electric. We’ve been serving St. Charles and St. Louis counties since 2001. We’re licensed, bonded, and insured for your safety and protection. Call us at (636) 202-1794 to schedule a free estimate.