In recognition of October being Energy Awareness Month, we wanted to shed some light (no pun intended) on where energy gets spent the most in a home — and share ways to reduce your usage in those areas.
Did you know that the top four biggest household energy users typically make up more than 85% of a home’s energy usage? Here’s a look at these big spenders, and how you can rein them in.
Heating and cooling
What uses the most energy in a home? That honor belongs to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, which makes up a whopping 47% of a home’s total electricity consumption, on average. The good news is, that leaves plenty of room to become more efficient!
To save on heating and cooling your home:
- Use a programmable or smart thermostat to control when your system turns on and off.
- Adjust the temperature four degrees closer to the temperature outside when you’re away from home for quick and easy savings.
- Make sure you’re changing the system’s filters regularly, and schedule preventative maintenance to ensure that everything is running optimally.
- Check for and seal any air leaks around doors and windows to reduce the amount of energy it takes your HVAC system to keep you comfy.
The water heater, perhaps surprisingly, comes in second on the list, accounting for approximately 14% of a home’s total electricity usage. Keeping all that hot water heated and at the ready takes around-the-clock work, after all.
To scale back some of your water heater’s energy usage:
- Turn its thermometer down to 120 degrees, which will save energy and prevent scalding.
- If you’re in the market for a new unit, consider a tankless water heater — it only heats water when you need it, preventing unnecessary electricity consumption.
- Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for insulating your water heater’s tank and pipes.
- Fix leaky faucets. According to the EPA’s WaterSense program, 10% of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons of water (or more) per day!
Washer and dryer
Washers and dryers come in a close third in highest home electricity usage, at around 13%. Considering the hot water, the heated drying and the energy it takes to run the machines, it’s no wonder they made the list.
To make your washer and dryer more energy efficient:
- Wash with cold water, unless hot water is absolutely necessary.
- Pretreat stains and use the washing machine’s presoak stetting for heavily soiled items to avoid having to wash them twice.
- Wait until you have a full load of clothes to wash and dry.
- If you’re buying new equipment, choose a high-efficiency or ENERGY STAR®-certified model.
When we think of electricity, we most often think of lighting — the fourth-biggest energy-consuming area of the home (at roughly 12%).
In addition to flipping the lights off when you leave the room, to save on lighting costs:
- Swap out older bulbs for more energy-efficient, longer-lasting light-emitting diodes (LEDs).
- Keep bulbs and fixtures dust-free to get the most brightness out of your lights.
- Opt for task lighting if you don’t need a whole room lit up.
- Use lighter colors when painting your walls — light reflects better off of pale colors than it does off of darker hues, so lighter-colored walls let you use lower-wattage bulbs.
As you can see, energy awareness isn’t just vital for our planet — it’s also necessary if you want to lower your electricity bills. For more energy-saving tips you can use around your home, check out our Energy Saver Center.