These days, there are a lot of electronic gadgets in our homes. From flipping on that coffee pot in the morning, to watching TV at night, we depend on electricity for everything we do.
However, just a portion of your household appliances account for the majority of your electricity consumption. With some simple adjustments, you can save both money and energy by tackling these power-hungry categories.
1. Hot water heaters
Having access to instant hot water at the tap is one of modern life’s greatest conveniences. From steamy showers to the warm suds that clean our dishes and our clothes, our hot water heaters get a constant workout. The average home uses about 45 gallons of hot water each day, which adds up to hundreds of dollars a year on your power bill.
There are several ways to lower this cost. The most obvious one is to use less hot water, which can be accomplished through shorter showers and more efficient dishwashers and washing machines. You may also want to go to the source and replace your water heater with a more efficient model. Then, set your water heater’s thermostat to 120 degrees or lower, which will provide water hot enough for most uses (and can prevent scalding burns as well).
2. Cooling systems
We’ve talked about the hot stuff, now let’s talk about the cold stuff. Whether you have central air or window units, air conditioning systems use a lot of electricity. Running a 5,000 BTU window unit in one room 24 hours a day could be costing you nearly $600 per year. (Use this online calculator to determine the cost of your central air system.) During the summer months, cooling costs can make up 40% to 70% of your electric bill.
To bring those bills down, make sure your home is well insulated and that any cracks or gaps are sealed, especially around window units. For central systems, use a programmable thermostat and keep the filter clean. Also consider using window shades, screens, or films to keep the sun’s heat from entering your home. Finally, limit stovetop cooking and use an outdoor grill instead of your oven during hot months; heat from the kitchen will just make your AC system work harder.
3. Other household appliances
Did you know your hair dryer uses more power than your clothes washer or your refrigerator? Drawing up to 1,875 watts, a hair dryer used every day can really add up. But it’s not the only power hog that you plug into the wall. Dishwashers, clothes dryers, and vacuum cleaners all take a lot of energy to run. You can view the typical wattages of a variety of household appliances here.
While letting your hair air-dry and hanging your clothes on a clothesline to dry can save quite a few kilowatts, such options aren’t always practical, especially in winter. So what else can you do to save?
First off, when it’s time to buy a new appliance, be sure to check out Energy Star models. Products with the Energy Star label must meet certain energy efficiency requirements, and they include everything from phones to furnaces.
In addition, try to unplug items that aren’t in use, because televisions, microwaves and many other common appliances draw small amounts of stand-by power even when turned off.
And, of course, when possible, limit the use of electronic items. Being mindful of your daily habits will help keep costs down.