A couple of years ago, the sale of electricity was deregulated in my state, and in the months before it happened, there were dire predictions about short-term spikes in prices as the market transitioned from regulated prices to free-market prices.
I began to look for good ways to save or conserve electricity use. To do this effectively, it’s important to know the biggest consumers of electricity in your household.
According to recent Dept. of Energy statistics, in the average home, the top 10 (really 9) energy users are (in order):
- Heating/cooling (31%)
- Refrigerators (14%)
- Water heating (9%)
- Lighting (9%)
- Home Electronics (7%)
- Dryers (6%)
- Spare freezers (3.5%)
- Ranges (3%)
- Dishwasher (2.5%)
- Other Stuff (the rest)
If you can make some significant cuts in the top 5 energy users in your household, you can, truly easily reach 10% savings, more if you do more.
I’ll tell you the 5 things I did that made a real impact in my electricity bill:
- I got a programmable thermostat. Previously, I tried to remember to set the temperature up (in summer) when I went to work (down in winter only affects my gas usage). But automating the process means no “oopses.” I set the temp to go up at 6 a.m. — I leave at 9 a.m., and it takes a few hours for the temperature in the house to rise to uncomfortable levels, even on the hottest days. I tell it to start cooling down about 1/2 hour before the first adult comes home. There are ones that are purported to “learn” your habits and preferences. Yeah, for $250, whatever. The point here is to save money, not put it into some scammer’s pocket.
- I also set the thermostat to 79 for the coldest setting. And I bought the quietest fans I could find to use for extra cooling in the living room, bedroom, and home offices. Moving air really does subtract at least 4 degrees in the perceived temperature indoors. Besides using less electricity, you wear out your central air conditioning unit less too.
- I changed light bulbs to compact fluorescent. Yeah, LED is supposed to be the wave of the future, but it ain’t waving at me until the price comes WAY down.
- At night, if the temperature outside is under 74 degrees F, I open the bedroom window and let the free cooler air come in. (Obviously, dependent on how quiet your neighborhood is, whether it’s going to rain, what floor the bedroom is on, etc.)
- I bought some good quality weather-stripping and put it around my front door, which is the only spot where there was any significant leakage. If your house is older, you should check out other doors and windows.
There are other common sense things too, like making sure you turn off lights as you leave a room, wearing season-appropriate attire (do you know anyone who wears shorts in winter then turns the thermostat up to 85?), unplugging vampire charging devices (or buy some switches for the outlets), turning off the drying cycle on the dishwasher (tip the accumulated water and let the air dry the dishes … only takes a few hours).
In general, things that make heat or cold (intentional or not) are the big energy users in the house. Find ways to safely make them work less, and that’s how you can rack up savings on energy costs.