Knowledge is power, and in the case of home energy suckers, you can use your knowledge to power down your energy bills. Check out the U.S. Department of Energy's assessment of the top five energy suckers in your home and use our tips to make your home more energy-efficient and sustainable.
Heating and cooling
It's natural to want to feel comfortable in your home; whether it's 30 or 105 degrees outside, chances are it's a comfortable 68 to 72 degrees inside. According to the Department of Energy, heating and cooling account for 54 percent of your home's energy costs. To keep your monthly bills from getting out of hand, try the following:
- Install a programmable thermostat to prevent the heater or AC from running when you're away from home.
- Seal your windows and doors to ensure there are no air leaks.
- Increase your wall and ceiling insulation to help maintain a comfortable temperature, and see whether it's time to upgrade your doors and windows with Energy Star types.
Having hot water on demand accounts for 18 percent of your total energy bill. Long, hot showers definitely account for part of the problem, but washing your clothes in hot water is a big drain, too.
- Keep your showers short.
- Ditch hot-water laundering altogether. Opt for cold-water washing with cold-water detergents.
- Look into switching out your old washing machine for an Energy Star appliance. These use significantly less water, which saves even more energy.
Large kitchen appliances
When combined, your cooking and refrigeration costs account for eight percent of your total household energy drain.
- Ditch your old-school appliances and invest in an Energy Star oven, stove and fridge.
- Keep your freezer stocked and your fridge moderately filled. Frozen goods help keep the freezer cold, but overstuffing the fridge actually increases energy usage.
Think about all the computers, electronics and small electrical appliances you have in your home: TVs, DVD players, cell phones, microwaves, toasters, coffeemakers and more. Even if they're not in use, plugged-in electronics draw electricity, accounting for roughly six percent of your total home energy costs.
- Unplug appliances when they're not in use, or plug them into a power strip with an "off" switch.
- Look into solar-powered charging docks for your personal electronics.
- When you're in the market for new appliances, look for Energy Star models.
- If possible, switch to battery-operated mixers, coffee grinders and other electronic kitchen tools. With the efficiency of today's rechargeable batteries, you could end up saving a lot over the course of their lifetimes.
Lighting also accounts for about six percent of your home's energy costs.
- Be environmentally responsible and switch from incandescent and CFL bulbs to LED. LED bulbs can provide light for up to 50,000 hours -- roughly eight to 10 years.
- Solar lighting options have made great strides, so consider replacing your exterior lights with solar-powered versions.
- Turn the lights off! There's no need for light when nobody's home.