Energy conservation: Ten Ways You Can Save Energy

You can reduce the energy consumption of your household in a number of ways, ranging from extensive house improvements to a few simple behavioral changes. Conserving energy yields two major benefits: It protects our environment and reduces utility bills. Here are 10 ways you can conserve energy and electricity usage in your house. We’ve included both simple and intensive methods you can use to alter your energy consumption behavior.

1. Start changing your daily lifestyle

Implementing energy conservation measures inside your house doesn’t mean that you have to buy energy-efficient appliances. You can practice energy conservation by doing something as easy as switching off appliances or lights when they are not needed. You may also cut down on the use of energy-intensive gadgets and appliances by doing all household tasks by yourself, like washing the dishes manually or hang-drying clothes in place of using a dryer.

However, the change that produces the greatest amount of energy savings is the reduction of thermostat usage during the winter months and air conditioning during the summer months. Cooling and heating costs account for over 50% of the total utility payments made by a household on average. Therefore, reducing the frequency and intensity of cooling and heating can provide significant savings.

You can use multiple tools for figuring out how electricity is being spent in your house. You can also use a house energy monitor, which can aid you in understanding which appliances and gadgets are consuming the most amount of electricity daily.

2. Replace all light bulbs in your house

Conventional incandescent bulbs tend to consume a high amount of power. You also need to replace them at a higher frequency compared to other energy-efficient solutions. Light-emitting diode bulbs (LEDs), halogen incandescent bulbs, and compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) consume around 25% - 80% less power and a lifespan that is 3x – 25x times longer compared to traditional bulbs. While energy-efficient light bulbs may be expensive in the beginning, they come with a higher service life and have lower energy requirements, which means that they wind up costing less when taken over the long run. Many energy-efficient light bulbs have unbeatable financial and environmental benefits.

3. Utilize smart power strips

smart power strip
When electronics are placed in a standby mode or switched off, they still keep consuming electricity, which is known as a phantom load. Studies have shown that over 75% of all energy used for powering household electronic devices is utilized when they’re switched off, something that can cost you over $200 per year. However, advanced or smart power strips can eliminate this problem entirely by cutting off electricity access to electronic devices when they aren’t in use. Most smart power strips come with a feature that allows you to cut off electricity at assigned times or periods of inactivity, either depending on the power state of the ‘master’ appliance or via remote switches.

4. Install smart or programmable thermostats

A smart or programmable thermostat may be used for reducing cooling and heating or turning off power when you’re away or asleep. By installing programmable thermostats, you can eliminate wasteful energy spending that is normally associated with cooling and heating operations without having to sacrifice your comforts or upgrade your HVAC systems. On an average basis, programmable thermostats can help you save over $180 a year. Most programmable thermostats have features built into them that allow you to program them to match your schedule. Other features include indicators that alert you to HVAC system issues or air filter troubles, which can increase the performance of your cooling and heating systems.

5. Buy only energy efficient gadgets and appliances

Appliances and other household gadgets account for over 13% of the entire household’s energy consumption. When you purchase an appliance, pay special attention to 2 numbers: The yearly operating cost and initial purchase amount. While energy-efficient gadgets and appliances are on the expensive side, their operating expenses tend to be 9% - 25% on the lower side compared to conventional appliances. When you purchase energy-efficient appliances, pay special attention to ENERGY STAR labels. These are federal guarantees that an appliance consumes a low amount of energy during usage and standby mode compared to other energy-inefficient standard models. The energy savings keep varying based on what appliance it is. For instance, ENERGY STAR washing machines consume around 25% less electricity & 45% less water compared to conventional washing machines. However, an ENERGY STAR refrigerator provides energy savings of only 9% compared to traditional refrigerators.

6. Cut back on your heating costs

A water heater can drive up your energy consumption levels by a significant margin. Apart from buying energy-efficient heaters, you have 3 other ways to reduce water heating costs: You can opt to use less hot water, insulate the water heater & the first 6 feet of cold and hot water pipes, or lower the thermostat of the water heater.

If you’re looking to replace your heater with a more efficient model, two factors must be kept in mind first: The kind of fuel it uses and the kind of heater that is best suited to your needs. For instance, a tankless water heater is energy-efficient, however, it isn’t recommended for families with more members since they don’t permit simultaneous and multiple usage of hot water by all. More efficient heaters can have efficiency rates that are higher compared to traditional water heaters by around 8% - 300%. Also remember that they have a lifespan of 10-15 years, which means you stand to gain a lot of water heating-related savings.

7. Use energy-saving windows

Your windows are likely to allow precious heating to slip away from the house. This alone can cause a spike of 10% - 25% in your heating bill. In order to conserve the heat inside the house, you can choose to replace all single-pane windows in your house with double-pane windows.

If your house is located in a cold region, gas-filled energy efficient windows that have coatings of ‘Low-E’ can reduce your home heating expenses to a great extent. Additionally, exterior or interior storm windows can also decrease heat loss in your house by 10% - 20%. You can also purchase storm windows in case your location experiences extreme weather conditions on a frequent basis.

In warm climates, the heat gain via windows may pose problems. Apart from minimizing loss of heat, having windows with a coating of Low-E can decrease heat gain as they reflect the light & lowers the amount of thermal energy entering your house. Based on the climatic conditions of the place you stay; ENERGY STAR windows may save you between $20 - $95 per year. Window shutters, awnings, screens, and shades can provide an additional insulation layer between external temperatures and your home.

8. Consider upgrading your HVAC equipment

HVAC systems include heating, ventilation & air conditioning devices and equipment. Heating accounts for over 40% of all home energy consumption. Since houses in the Northern regions tend to be exposed to colder climatic conditions during the entire year, most ENERGY STAR gas furnaces come with different specs in the southern and northern parts of the US.

By upgrading your equipment to include US-South ENERGY STAR appliances, you can save over 12% on utility bills or around $36 a year. An ENERGY STAR furnace in the USA’s northern half tends to have an energy efficiency rate 16% greater than other baseline models. This means that you can enjoy savings of more than $94 a year in the Northern US on your heating bills.

In comparison to this, air conditioning doesn’t really cost much – It accounts for only 6% of the entire energy consumption of an average household. ENERGY star central AC units are 8% more efficient compared to conventional units. AC and heating systems are usually available integrated with each other, meaning you’ll need to purchase both your AC and your furnace simultaneously for ensuring maximum energy efficiency.

Upgrading your ventilation system can improve energy efficiency as well. Ventilation systems are composed of ducts, which provide cold and hot air to all parts of your home. In case these ducts aren’t properly insulated or sealed, a high level of energy is likely to be wasted, which can raise your annual cooling and heating expenses by several hundred dollars. Ensuring that your ventilation system undergoes proper maintenance and insulation at regular intervals can lower your cooling and heating expenses by more than 20%, which is a great bargain.

9. Ensure your house is weatherized properly

Weatherizing refers to the act of sealing all air leaks in your house, which can help lower your cooling and heating expenses. The doors, windows, and vents are major sources of damaging air leaks. In order to prevent such leaks, you’ve got to ensure that the number of openings or cracks between the walls and the door frame, vent, or window are as low as possible.

In order to eliminate air leaks in such locations, like the window and wall frame, you may apply caulk. If you have cracks between operable doors and windows and other moving objects, you can use weather stripping measures. Caulking and weather stripping are normal air sealing methods, which can generate an effective ROI within a year. Your house may also have air leaks in openings present on your floors and walls, electrical wiring, ducting, or plumbing.

Air leaks often occur when hot air rises from the interiors of your home into the attic via small openings. Regardless of whether it’s through the attic hatch, ducts, or light fixtures, hot air will find a way to escape since heat tends to flow from a warmer area to a cooler area. Such openings can cause your utility bills to get bigger in case your attic isn’t properly insulated. In order to derive maximum advantages from weatherization, consider insulating your house entirely.

10. Insulate your entire house

Insulation can help lower your electricity bills to a great extent by retaining heat during winter and by ensuring that excess heat is not accumulated inside the house during summer. Your home’s recommended heat resistance level or ‘R-Value’ is dependent on your location. If you live in a warmer region, your R-value will be much lower compared to people living in a colder region.

How much insulation should you install? It depends on how big your house is. Your crawlspace, basement, floors, walls, and attic are the 5 key sectors where you can start adding insulation. Utilize the information available on the Energy Department’s website for finding out the best recommendations in your region or use the Home Energy Saver tool to generate recommendations after considering your home’s specifications.

Why is it important to conserve energy to begin with? Energy conservation can provide people with manifold advantages. You can raise property values, save money, and save the environments by deploying these simple measures. You also stand to gain innumerable other benefits, regardless of what your primary motivation for saving energy may be. By taking small steps towards living an energy-conscious lifestyle you’ll be able to transform into an energy-efficient individual and enjoy the perks that come with it.