How to Reduce Energy ConsumptionEnergy consumption and costs can be reduced if homeowners and renters take into consideration alternative ways to save energy.

Wind turbines in a field.

Ways to Reduce Energy Consumption in Your Home

Electricity, water, and even internet connections have become important parts of many of our day-to-day lives. Typically because they're accessed every day, the necessities that are used across the homes of countless Americans are beginning to have a negative impact on the environment. It is important to be wary of this, and take the steps needed to lower energy consumption in your home, ultimately reducing not only your carbon footprint, but your utility costs as well.

1. Appliances

Home appliances such as dishwashers, refrigerators, AC units, washers, dryers, and water heaters, vary when it comes to how much energy they commonly use. According to the Silicon Valley Power appliance energy chart, these numbers can range anywhere from 0.008 to 500 kilowatt-hours (kWh). The more kWh used, the more you pay for that appliance. There are a number of ways to reduce the amount of energy you use from your home appliances, including:

  • Air drying clothes;
  • Cleaning your appliances often (replace filters, broken bulbs, etc.);
  • Converting to smart home appliances;
  • If possible, investing in energy-efficient appliances;
  • Keep the door to your oven closed the entire time while cooking a meal;
  • Researching the item's energy rating prior to purchasing;
  • Unplugging any appliance that you are not using;
  • Using cold water to cleanse your clothes;
  • Washing dishes by hand;
  • Washing your clothes and dishes only when the loads are full.

Tools like an appliance energy calculator allow you to see in detail how much energy your appliance produces, and what the estimated cost is. Utilizing this tool can help you address what changes may need to be made to reduce your daily use.

2. Electricity

In 2018, the average energy consumption from Americans was estimated to be 10,972 kWh, averaging out to be 914 kWh per month. The electricity system in the United States can have a negative impact on the environment because of the different ways energy is produced. For example, three of the resources used to produce energy are coal, natural gas, and nuclear power. The environmental effects these resources can have on the include:

  • Disposal of pollution into large bodies of water;
  • Generation of hazardous waste;
  • Greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Removal of parts of our ecosystem.

Many people have taken note of these potential negative effects, and come up with ways to cut down on their carbon footprint and the amount of electricity they're using in their homes, like:

  • Checking doors and windows for air leaks;
  • Ensuring your home has extra insulation;
  • Investing in energy-efficient light bulbs;
  • Looking for Energy Star when shopping for products;
  • Making sure your appliances work properly;
  • Replacing your air filter as needed;
  • Switching to cleaner energy sources like solar panels or wind energy;
  • Turning off/unplug lights and appliances when they are not in use;
  • Using power strips;
  • Using programmable thermostats.

It may be worth reconsidering the type of internet plan you have and the associated router, depending on your household internet habits, to avoid wasting energy. For example, DSL internet, which is provided by companies like AT&T, CenturyLink, and Verizon, is often bundled with phone services, and provides more modest connectivity for lighter users. A heavy-duty router for seamless wireless connectivity isn't as important as it would be for cable internet.

Offered through providers like Comcast and Sparklight, cable internet has become the standard for basic streaming and other higher-bandwidth applications. For lighter users, less powerful routers are necessary and can provide incremental reductions in electricity use. That said, most all of the major providers of DSL and cable internet are transitioning to fiber optic internet connections which use less energy than traditional copper line systems.

3. Heating and Cooling

Air conditioning accounts for about 12% of U.S. home energy expenditures. About 87% of homes in America have an air conditioning unit of some kind totaling to around 12% of total home energy expenditures. With higher numbers of individuals installing heating and cooling devices in their homes, it increases overall electricity usage levels, resulting in higher utility bills. To reduce the amount of energy consumption coming from your heating and cooling devices it is suggested that you:

  • Change air filters frequently;
  • Check and seal your windows and doors for drafts;
  • Double up on your home's insulation;
  • Maintain routine repairs;
  • Operate your devices at stable temperatures;
  • Use a programmable thermostat;
  • Use curtains and/or blinds to get better control of the internal temperature of your home.

4. Water

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, each American uses an average of 88 gallons of water a day at home. This means that each individual uses on average 32,120 gallons a year - multiply that by the entire U.S. population and the number is outstanding. The abundance of household water consumption is an issue because it adds an unnecessary expense to utility bills and takes away from the natural water sources we have in the world - the less water we waste down the drain, the more we save for our lakes, rivers, and oceans. To reduce your water consumption:

  • Don't use your toilet as a trash can;
  • Install aerators on your faucets;
  • Invest in a low-flush toilet;
  • Maintain faucet and drain repairs as needed;
  • Reduce the number of times you flush your toilet;
  • Refrain from watering your lawn when the weather is hot;
  • Take shorter showers;
  • Turn off the sink when brushing your teeth;
  • Use a drip irrigation system instead of sprinklers to water your garden.

5. Renewable Energy

In 2018, renewable energy sources accounted for about 11% of total U.S. energy consumption and about 17% of electricity generation. But what does this mean?

Renewable energy sources are sources that are naturally derived to help supply energy to consumers. Common types of renewable energy include solar and wind power, geothermal, hydroelectric, and biomass. These renewable resources are important because they still provide energy that meets consumer's needs but they do so in a way that doesn't negatively impact our environment. People can increase their use of renewable energy by:

  • Installing solar panels in their homes;
  • Investing in micro-hydropower systems;
  • Researching hybrid options such as solar-wind panels;
  • Using small wind electric systems.

Implementing one of these techniques into your daily home routine can help reduce the energy consumption of your home a little, however, implementing them all can make a great difference. Take the time to assess your home and make note of any energy-saving changes you may need to help reduce your utility bills and carbon footprint.

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