Did you know, that the top 10 producers of carbon dioxide in the US are all electric companies? In 2013 the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,908 kilowatt hours (kWh) according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Incase you aren’t an energy specialist, I’ll break that down for you. It takes about 1.05 lbs of coal to produce 1 kWh of power and there are about 115,610,216 homes in America. That means there is more than 1 trillion lbs of coal being burned in the US in just one year. The worst part of burning all that coal is that 90% of the energy produced is lost before it even reaches your home. So for every time you save 0.10 kWh of electricity you’re actually saving an entire pound of coal. So what can we do to save more energy?
The good news is that it’s actually quite easy to make your home more energy efficient because more than 20% of the energy used in homes is wasted. That 20% is created by lights being left on in empty rooms or heating and cooling an empty house. Therefore, those are the first two of my 5 steps to being more energy efficient.
Step 1: Lights
As I said before, making sure that you turn off the lights when you leave a room can drastically lower your energy usage. If you have an issue with this you may consider installing motion activated light switches that automatically go off when no one is in the room. You should also change all your bulbs to LED bulbs because they are far more efficient. They also last significantly longer which reduces your waste as well!
Step 2: HVAC
Most people know that heating and cooling their home can greatly affect their energy usage. This is why people will sacrifice on comfort by a few degrees to save on their bill. This is one option but an even better one would be upgrading your thermostat to one where you can access it remotely or program a schedule so that you only use the heat or A/C when some is home.
Buying a new refrigerator can be a huge investment, but you should be looking at more than just the cost of your appliances and electronics when purchasing. Look for the EnergyStar logo and do research into the energy efficiency of all new appliances. While they may be more expensive upfront, they will save you tons of money on your power bill. Some homes also have plugs that can be switched on/off using a light switch. If your home has these, make sure you are using them whenever possible. Some electronics still use energy if they are turned off but still plugged in.
Step 4: Windows and Insulation
This step can be very costly up front. If you choose to purchase new windows make sure that they are EnergyStar rated. New windows combined with weatherstripping, caulking and insulation will both save energy and reduce noise from coming in if you live in a congested area.
Step 5: Solar Power
Remember how I said that 90% of the energy produced by coal is lost before it reaches your home? Well with Solar the energy is already being produced at your home so you don’t have this issue. Solar power is a clean, renewable energy source and now you can convert your home to solar without putting all that money into buying panels. SolarCity has a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) that allows you to purchase solar power without paying to install the system. They are larger than the next 80 solar companies combined, but if they aren’t currently available in your state you may want to look into similar options with other companies.