Pop quiz: What uses the most electricity in your home?
If you guessed heating and air conditioning, you’re correct. In fact, heating and cooling systems combined account for more than 40 percent of the electricity used in the average Georgia home, according to statistics from the Annual Energy Outlook 2021, a report published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Here’s a breakdown of where the power goes in most single-family homes:
- Heating 31.3%
- Water Heater 13.6%
- Cooling 10.7%
- Refrigeration 4%
- Clothes Dryer 3.2%
- Lighting 2.8%
- Home Entertainment Equipment 2.8%
- Other Uses 31.6% – Includes cooking equipment, computers and office equipment, small appliances, vampire power and motors.
Identifying energy hogs can help you find ways to conserve energy around the house and keep more cash in your pocket.
Realizing which home appliances consume the most electricity is more than trivia. Identifying energy hogs can help you find ways to conserve energy around the house and keep more cash in your pocket.
The nation’s annual Cut Your Energy Costs Day is Jan. 10, so this month is a good time to think about where your power goes and explore options for conserving it. Walton EMC offers some easy ideas for cutting your electric bill in 2022.
Begin by conducting a DIY home energy evaluation.
Begin by conducting a DIY home energy evaluation. Spend just a few minutes checking for small trouble spots that can add up to big electric bills. Walton EMC offers a video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8eQfTDvIPg) and checklist (https://www.waltonemc.com/uploads/main/energy_audit_checklist.pdf) to help you identify the energy-suckers in your home.
Now, let’s look at the top energy users to determine some ways to save.
Heating and Cooling
Use the results of your energy audit to find places where air is escaping and entering your home. Conditioned air (heated or cooled) escapes most often from: fireplaces, eaves, ridge vents, electrical outlets, light fixtures, floors, walls, ceilings, ducts, plumbing penetrations, doors, windows, fans and vents. Keep drafts at bay by filling cracks with caulk or spray insulation. Replace worn or insufficient weatherstripping around doors and windows.
Also, remember to look up — to the attic, that is. Most heat is lost or gained there. Keeping your insulation level at R30 will keep your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, cutting energy costs all year long.
Other ways to reduce your HVAC energy consumption include:
- Get your air conditioning and furnace serviced regularly.
- Install a programmable thermostat installed and programmed.
- Set thermostat to 68 degrees for heating and 78 degrees for cooling.
- Replace or clean filters at recommended intervals.
- Seal and insulate your home’s air duct system.
Since access to hot water is a convenience most of us won’t do without, finding energy-efficient solutions is a priority when looking to reduce consumption. To keep utility bills down:
- Set water heater thermostat no higher than 120 degrees.
- Wrap insulating blanket around an old water heater that feels warm to the touch.
- Insulate hot water pipes.
- Install low-flow faucets and showerheads.
- Take a shower instead of a bath, and limit showering time.
- Wash clothes in cold water.
- Run the dishwasher only when it’s full.
Large Kitchen Appliances
Refrigerator: You can’t do without a refrigerator, but you can reduce the running costs. Number one is to replace an old one (especially over a decade old) with a modern, energy-efficient one. As always with new appliances, Energy Star-rated ones are best for lowering energy usage. More ways to maximize refrigerator efficiency:
- Don’t overload it.
- Set it to the manufacturer’s recommended temperature.
- Regularly clean behind and underneath the appliance to maintain airflow.
Oven and Stove: Both ovens and stoves draw a lot of electricity, so be sensible in their use. Reduce the electricity load by:
- Using a smaller appliance such as a toaster oven, microwave or slow cooker.
- Not preheating unless it’s necessary for the dish to cook properly.
Dishwasher: When it comes to the dishwasher, the best energy-saving advice is to use it. Running a full load of dishes on an economy mode uses less energy than hand washing, which uses more hot water. To reduce your dishwasher’s energy use:
- Wash full loads.
- Turn off heated dry; select air dry instead.
Washer and Dryer
Together, they use about 5 percent of your electricity. To save, keep these tips in mind when doing laundry:
- Wash full loads.
- Wash with cold water.
- Avoid overfilling the machines.
- Take advantage of line drying when possible.
- Clear lint trap after each dryer load.
One of the simplest ways to trim lighting costs is by changing to LEDs. LEDs last up to 20 times longer than incandescent bulbs and use about a sixth as much electricity.
Home Entertainment Equipment
Need an excuse to buy a new TV? Here’s a great one: The current generation of ENERGY STAR certified electronics is more frugal in its energy needs, so a new TV will use much less power than an older model. Adding smart plugs is a useful way to save even more energy. They will shut off power completely and also track energy data to help you better control the usage of different devices.
Office equipment: Use power strips to completely turn off computers and peripherals at night. Look for energy-saving features when buying new equipment.
“Vampire” power: Unplug or use power strips with on/off switches to make certain electronic devices don’t draw power when you’re not actively using them.
Knowing where the power goes in your house and ways to conserve it will help you manage your Walton EMC bill. Don’t forget that members can track their individual energy use by the hour or day at the co-op’s online energy portal, myWaltonEMC.com (https://billing.waltonemc.com/onlineportal/Customer-Login). A Walton EMC account number is all you need to sign up for this free service.
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