The Largest Home Energy Drainers

shutterstock 150293594 The Largest Home Energy Drainers

Many “energy efficient” products on the market today actually drain your home’s energy, and making a decision to purchase one of these products can be very challenging. Choosing the best one for your household and the best value for your money can be easy though – when you know where to look. When you are planning a move and looking to hire professional movers, it’s easy to overlook the fact that you will need some new appliances. A new home is a great starting point to help the environment — and your wallet.

The term “energy efficient” in product advertising is not a term that is very specific; manufacturers can use this term loosely because there is no system discerning actual parameters for guidelines that layout the meaning of energy efficiency. If  you are serious about reducing energy costs on your home appliances, a good start would be to look for the ENERGY STAR logo. If the product has this logo and the manufacturer states it is an energy-efficient product, that is a step in the right direction.

What is “ENERGY STAR”?

ENERGY STAR is a combined effort between the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy, who joined forces to help people learn how to make informed choices when it comes to home appliances. Manufacturers who register with ENERGY STAR have been given a rating by the company that will give you an accurate measure of what is energy efficient on a scale that ranges from very efficient to not so efficient. With this knowledge as a guide in 2009, Americans were able to save nearly $17 billion on their utility bills and enough energy to avoid greenhouse gas emission equivalent to that produced by 30 million cars. If you are currently looking for energy-efficient appliances, take the time to learn about the energy guide labels, and use the ENERGY STAR rebate locator. [1]

Watch this video for more.

REFRIGERATORS

The video above has some great tips on how your refrigerator could be operating more efficiently. The refrigerator is one of  the largest draws on a residential electric bill because it stays on and runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This constant expenditure of electricity can be mitigated by proper use and storage of the product, and it doesn’t always have to run up the bill. An energy-efficient refrigerator should use (on average) about 600 watts of electricity per hour. This average is equivalent to approximately $72 per month, or $860 per year. If your refrigerator was made after 1993, it most likely is using 600 watts or less, but it is something you should ensure.

Simple tips to keep wattage low on your fridge:

1. Don’t stand in front of it with the door open.

2. Adjust the temperature to coincide with the seasons.

3. Use frozen jugs of water to keep your freezer cold in the winter.

4. Vacuum the coils on the back of the unit to increase efficiency.

Following these few rules can significantly reduce the watts needed to keep your refrigerator running, which will contribute greatly toward reducing your electric bill

Incandescent Lights

Incandescent bulbs really have not changed much since 1882.  These common household items create light by burning a filament of tungsten in a near vacuum using electrical resistance. If these types of bulbs are in a home, they draw more energy than is needed and should be replaced. Incandescent bulbs have helped light our last 100 years, but it’s time to make room for the next revolution.

The technology that enables us to create light out of electricity has been around for over a century, but it was Thomas Edison that reviewed the process and developed the parts necessary to light our world  the way we do today. Each of the elements for his first bulb had to be designed to work by him for dependability, practicality, and to ensure it was reproducible. After Edison’s successes, in 1889, he merged all his companies into one calling it, Edison General Electric – or the company we now know as General Electric (GE).  These common household items create light by burning a filament of tungsten in a near vacuum using electrical resistance. [2] Fluorescent lights are more efficient than incandescent bulbs; and if a homeowner were to make the switch completely, they could save up to 7% on their electric bill. [3]

The new GE company has continued in Edison’s efforts to be innovators in several fields of expertise, and now we know that fluorescent lights are more efficient than those old incandescent bulbs.

Fluorescent lights make light when electricity excites molecules of gas inside of the bulb’s tube. For those who can’t stand the intensity of the light, fluorescent bulbs also come in soft white, bright white, and even yellow bug light color for outdoor fixtures.

WASHER AND DRYER

The next biggest draw to your wattage would most likely be the washer and dryer. The average washer and dryer, together, use approximately 920 watts per hour to run. This equates to $3.66 a day to use. If you are like most people, who use their washer and dryer once a week, this is about $15 a month; $176 per year. If you use your washer and dryer more than once a week, the cost gets more expensive and it is easy to see how this would add up.

If you want to improve your washer and dryer energy:

1. Wash your items in cold water only. Heating the water first uses a lot of energy.

2. Wait until you have a full load. Most of us do this, but there are a few who live by doing laundry every day.  This is a waste of money, and time.

3. Front-loading washers are preferable to top-loading ones. Front-loading ones are High Efficiency (HE) washers; top-loading ones are not.

4. Set your wash and dry cycles on appropriate loads. Wasting water and money on the extra spins is not going to get your electricity costs down.

5. Don’t forget to clean the lint trap. Not only will it help you save money on your electric bill, but it will prevent house fires too.

6. Run your dryer on the “no heat” drying cycle. This will dry less dense clothing like delicates without tapping into the electric meter.

 

 

SPACE HEATERS

Space heaters are a good way to stretch your heating dollars, especially if you are in one part of the house more than other parts. However, one of the problems with space heaters is that they typically draw an enormous amount of electricity or fuel. Even the smallest electric space heater can draw 3,000 watts per hour. The more popular, larger ones typically use 11,000 watts per hour. This might be acceptable if you turn off your central heat, but will be very expensive if you combine them both.

If you opt for the propane-based space heater, which can be inexpensive in some areas, you might be able to heat your space for less. These propane-based space heaters also release carbon monoxide into the air, so falling asleep next to one could be a deadly mistake. These propane units can draw anywhere from 2,300 watts to 4,100 watts an hour, so unless propane is very inexpensive in your area, they are best used during an emergency situation only.

AC Units

Outdated AC units or HVAC appliances can be another major waste of home energy. A good rule to follow that will help you understand the efficiency of your AC unit is to check out the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER). The top-rated HVAC machines have a rating as high as 19. Older and less expensive models have rankings half of that. For the lowest energy bill and best savings, look for an HVAC with a rating of 14 or higher.

People who have made the switch to more efficient AC units have seen about a 50% drop in their home heating and cooling bills. If you are in the market for a new AC unit, you may qualify for a federal rebate of up to 30% of the cost of an energy-efficient HVAC unit, which can total up to $1,500. [3]

Energy.gov has a long list of rebates and incentives to homeowners for energy efficiency measures, including replacing old HVAC units with energy-efficient models. [4]

Desktop Computers

It’s no surprise that leaving your computer running constantly uses up a lot of energy. The cost of energy is different in every region, but some people have actually measured their spending to be about $200 a year by using a device that outputs the kilowatt hours used while keeping their computer running. [5]

There are tips, however, on keeping costs down if you have to keep that computer running:

1. If there are multiple hard drives, set the auxiliary hard drives to sleep on inactivity.

2. Upgrade to a more efficient power supply.

3. Don’t use a high-end video card. This draws 20+ watts of power on idle.

4. Set the monitor to sleep on inactivity.

5. Disconnect and unplug additional hardware you don’t use.

Energy-Conscious Homes

In the end, finding the optimal energy savings for your home all comes down to the frequency of use for each of your products, replacing older and less efficient units throughout your home, and using your appliances wisely. Remember to adjust your appliances to meet your family’s demands and turn off the ones that are not in use. These simple steps can make a drastic impact on your energy bill each month, and help you make the most of what you have.

Sources:

1. http://www.energystar.gov

2. http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/bledison.htm

3. http://www.savegreenly.com/biggest_energy_wasters_and_energ.htm

4. http://www.Energy.gov

5. http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2005/10/the-cost-of-leaving-your-pc-on.html

Guest Bio: This article is from Wellhome, which provides Home Energy Audits or Assessments with the ability to upgrade HVAC, Windows, and Home Insulation, and perform Duct Tightening and Air Sealing to create a comfortable more well balanced home that performs at its best level.  Home energy assessments through WellHome allow the homeowner to get a bigger picture of the efficiency of the home and its ability to maintain comfortable temperatures and air flow.