Did you know that being green saves money, especially around the house? Homeowners annually lose hundreds of dollars to inefficient appliances and a drafty home. Making simple changes can benefit the planet and your bottom line.
Choose the right appliances
Appliances in your home as well as certain behaviors can have a considerable impact on how much energy is consumed. The Energy Information Administration reports that the average home uses approximately 1,000 kilowatt hours (kwh) each month. Kwh is measured by multiplying the number of 1,000 watts of electricity used by the number of hours the device is in use.
Sealing around windows reduces air leaks and saves you
money in the process.
Every appliance has a different measure of electricity usage. Here are some examples of common appliances in the home and how much energy they consume in one hour.
Electric clothes dryer: 6,000 watts
Washing machine: 425 watts
Refrigerator : 188 watts
Dishwasher: 200 watts
Central AC: 6,000 watts
Window AC: 1,300 watts
Flat screen TV: 150 watts
LCD TV: 213 watts
Vacuum: 1,100 watts
Freezer: 273 watts
Water heater: 473 watts
Toaster oven: 1,200 watts
Coffeemaker: 1,200 watts
Desktop computer: 95 watts
DVD player: 25 watts
Cable box: 20 watts
Laptop: 50 watts
Selecting energy-efficient appliances and using them in a conservative manner can reduce energy usage and the cost of your monthly utility bill. Try to run high-wattage appliances during the evening or early-morning hours when energy rates may be reduced. Also, if the weather will be warm, running these appliances during cooler hours prevents the home from heating up even more -- possibly requiring the additional use of an air conditioner.
Unplug appliances when they're not in use to avoid vampire drain. Many appliances still draw a small amount of power even when turned off. Also, be sure to properly insulate and position appliances so they can run at the highest level of efficiency.
You can request or hire individuals to conduct an energy audit or home energy assessment. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the audit will assess how much energy your home consumes and evaluate what measures you can take to make your home more energy efficient.
If you prefer to do an energy audit yourself, you can look at a few key areas around the home where there may be air leaks or inefficient uses of energy. First, turn off any combustible appliances, such as water heaters and furnaces. Make sure the windows are closed, then turn on exhaust fans in the bathroom and kitchen to suck the air out of the rooms. Feel around outlets, doors, windows, baseboards, fireplaces, and attic hatches for any apparent leaks. Use a stick of incense to easily see the flow of air in the incense smoke.
If any leaks are found, address each one. This generally involves recaulking or sealing around points of entry. The DOE says the potential energy savings from reducing drafts in a home may range from 5 percent to 30 percent per year.
There are other steps you can take to make a home more efficient.
* Install solar panels to draw power from the sun.
* Plant deciduous trees or bushes on the south- and west-facing areas of the home. The leaves will shade the home during the summer months and fall off to allow sunshine in during the winter months.
* Plant bushes by the front door to act as a wind buffer.
* Use skylights to add light and warmth from the sun to the home.
* Think about using motion-activated lights in the home.
* Install a new programmable thermostat.
* Check the insulation in attics and basements and install new if the insulation you currently have is no longer efficient.
Save energy and money by making easy adjustments and improvements around your house.