We’ve all heard the basic tips for saving energy around the house – turn off lights when no one’s in the room, unplug small appliances when not in use, turn off the computer at night, and the list goes on and on. But there are numerous other things that can be done that might not be quite so familiar. In some instances, these changes can help you to significantly decrease the amount of energy used in your home, while lowering your electricity bill and increasing your home’s efficiency. Carefully monitoring your home’s energy usage, planning ahead for the replacement of tired appliances, and taking a whole-house approach to your energy improvements are all ways that you can make a big difference in the way your home uses energy.
There are several different types of energy monitors, ranging from outlet monitors to smart-home monitoring systems. Want to know if replacing your aging fridge or other appliances will make a difference in your electricity bill? An outlet monitor may provide the answer. Plug it directly into the outlet, then plug in the item you want to test – it will display the Kilowatts used, allowing you to calculate the energy costs associated with that particular item. Looking for an option that offers a more comprehensive energy-use profile? Whole-house power monitors track the electricity that’s used throughout your home, showing you the amount of Kilowatts being used and, with some models, the amount your energy usage is costing you. So the next time you switch off a light, appliance, or turn down your AC, you can see exactly how much you are saving. Smart-home monitoring systems allow you to control the amount of energy that is being used by your home through the linking of your appliances and other devices to the system’s software. At any given time, you can monitor and control your home’s energy usage, allowing you to see the exact amount of power being used by each item. This information can then be used to set energy goals for your home and family, or to even let you know that your teenager was up all night playing video games.
Planned Replacement of Appliances
You know that your water heater or other older appliance will need to be replaced in the next few years, but you’re not sure exactly when. Now is the time to begin planning for its replacement, as it is often a more cost- effective solution than waiting until the unit no longer works. Planning ahead allows you to take advantage of any sales or tax incentives that may be going on at the time, and there will be no need to scramble to find someone who is able to install the unit last minute. A planned replacement will also allow you time to research and compare different models and brands to be sure you choose the one that’s right for you. Look for the EnergyGuide label that is on most home appliances, which provides an estimate of the product’s energy consumption. Also consider purchasing one that is ENERGY STAR rated to be sure you’re getting an energy-efficient replacement.
Whole-House Energy Approach
Have you replaced your old furnace with a new ENERGY STAR model, but have yet to see the savings you were expecting on your energy bill? If so, this might be because you’ve only tackled part of the problem not recognizing that homes are a network of interrelated systems. While replacing an aging furnace or other appliance should improve your energy bills, you may see even more savings if you properly evaluate and address any issues with the related components. For example, if the ductwork in your home is as old as the furnace was, you may experience less than optimal performance from your new energy-efficient model. This is because overtime, ducts usually develop cracks or small holes, which may result in a 15-25% loss of both hot and cold air. Obviously, this would cause your new furnace to run more to compensate for the loss and use more energy. So, when planning to replace your home’s major appliances, be sure to make any necessary repairs to the connecting systems in order to maximize your energy savings. Conserving energy in your home is important in order to ease the burden of rising energy costs. By implementing the above suggestions, it is our hope that you will better understand the ways that your home uses energy, as well as where additional improvements can be made.