Just How Much Money Are You Wasting On Energy?
All Moms face a difficult balance when providing for their families. Not only are they making sure that their kids have everything they need to grow up happy and healthy, but they’re also waging a never ending war against household costs. Nerdy parents in particular can border on turning this into an obsession that spills over into everything from their choice in kids’ clothing to cost cutting household renovations. We all know Moms who spend hours clipping coupons, scanning the internet for the best deals on everything from food and drinks to vacations, and keeping a watchful eye on the weekly shop at the supermarket every week to make sure that it doesn’t go a penny over budget.
Where many vigilant parents fall short, however, is when it comes to energy waste. Most American homes waste an extraordinary amount of energy. In fact, as a country we’re horribly energy inefficient. The most optimistic estimates place our energy efficiency at 31% though more sober analyst believe it the real number to be closer to just 13%. That’s at least two thirds of the country’s energy wasted. In an age where the country (and the whole world) desperately needs to reduce its carbon footprint and an uncertain economy means that families need to make savings wherever possible. Here we’ll look into the ways in which your household may be wasting energy, how much you may be wasting and how you can drive down those vampiric energy costs.
Air conditioning and heating
We’re never quite the right temperature are we? Whether the view outside is bright and sunny or dark and stormy we’ve become wholly over reliant on our use of household technology to maintain that elusive perfect temperature. HVAC units are the most energy hungry appliances present in the average American home. Many people leave their AC units on 24/7 even when they’re not at home. While the market is growing more populous with energy efficient units, many people make do with highly inefficient units which can waste as much as 27% on a leaky duct.
While more efficient units are a great step forward, many people are all too quick to reach for the AC switch when the temperature is less than perfect. There are many simple (and perfectly free) solutions that will keep you comfortable without the energy waste (and expense). Wrapping up warm with sweaters, blankets and comforters is a cosy and energy efficient solution on a cold winter’s night while closing window blinds, using hand fans and encouraging natural ventilation through windows is the perfect solution in summer.
You can even take steps to ensure that your existing AC unit is as efficient as possible without replacing it.
- Make sure your AC unit is regularly maintained.
- Avoid placing lamps or televisions near the room’s air-conditioning thermostat. The thermostat will sense heat from these appliances, which may cause the air conditioning to run longer than necessary.
- Vacuum the registers on a monthly basis to remove any dust buildup. Ensure that your furniture (or any other objects) is not impeding the airflow through your registers.
When it comes to your thermostat, it’s important to regulate your temperature throughout the day. It’s astonishing how many people let their heating run throughout the day in cooler months for the sake of coming back to a warm home. Most of us spend 8-10 hours a day at work and asleep for around 6-8 hours a day which means that there’s no need to modulate the temperature the temperature for 14-18 hours a day. If modulating the temperature manually is too much of a hassle for you, a programmable thermostat is perfect for ensuring that your heating or cooling apparatus takes effect when and only when you need it.
Windows and doors
There are many places where warm, or cold air can escape, causing yet more over reliance on the thermostat and the AC unit and driving up costs while piling on waste. Every BTU of heat that sneaks out through your attic insulation, your doors, your windows and even your air ducts.
If you feel that your energy consumption is disproportionate, it’s worth getting a professional to check for air leaks in these areas. You should also take a good look at your attic insulation. If you see damp patches or evidence of animal infestation such as droppings, bite marks or gnawed timber struts then your insulation is compromised and should be replaced as soon as possible.
Single glazed (and even some double glazed) windows are horribly inefficient, leaking out a substantial amount of heat. Newer energy efficient Energy Star UPVC windows retain far more heat energy than their older counterparts saving you $126–$465 a year compared to single pane windows and $27-$111 a year on double paned windows.
In the bathroom
We waste staggering amount of water and energy in the bathroom. The average American home uses a staggering 40 gallons of water per day in the shower alone. Worse, shower water is ‘energy rich’ (having been heated), making it doubly wasteful. Experts recommend that we should limit shower time to 4 minutes to prevent water waste. While it’s unlikely that you’ll be taking a stopwatch into the shower with you, there are actually shower curtains that can be purchased which incrementally fill with water, and helpfully kick you out at the 4 minute mark.
If that’s a little extreme for you, a smart shower head is another great way of reducing shower waste. If you prefer a bath, you may be forgiven for thinking that extra waste is inevitable but switching to a tankless heater can help make even more substantial savings. Tankless water heater reviews will help you find the right one for your home. These babies can save you 22% in operational costs every year.
Keep an eye on energy ‘vampires’
In any modern household there are a whole lot of electronic devices in use or on standby. Many people don’t realize just how much energy is being wasted on these devices. TVs, computers, games consoles, DVD players, cell phone and tablet chargers… they all suck tiny amounts of power out of the walls when plugged in. Individually this may not amount to much but tigether, over the space of a year, these can add up. The only way to know they’re not costing you any money is to unplug them. Using a smart plug can help you to ascertain just how much energy your devices are wasting.
Hopefully this has been an eye opening account of the ways in which your home can be costing real money by wasting unexpected amounts of energy. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Often a little vigilance and thinking ahead can make all the difference and save you big bucks!