American homes consume a significant amount of energy — more than the global average. The energy we use for our appliances and electronics comes from natural gas, oil, coal, and nuclear energy sources.
A small percentage of the national energy use comes from renewable sources such as hydroelectric power and solar, wind, and geothermal power. The largest sources by far are nuclear, natural gas, and coal — the last two of which create millions of metric tons of greenhouse gases per year.
Finding ways to cut down your home’s energy use may seem like a tiny drop in the pool of conservation efforts, but a million tiny drops add up. Below are three simple ways you can make some significant changes in your home’s energy use.
Turn Off the Lights
There’s no doubt that turning off lights on a regular basis saves energy. But how much? Incandescents and halogens use much heat and are actually inefficient lighting sources. Replace these types of bulbs with CFL and LED bulbs, which use about 25 to 80 percent less energy while lasting three to 25 times longer.
As a general rule, turn off lights when not in use. The U.S. Department of Energy suggests calculating your energy use by looking at the wattage rate of the bulbs, the length of time they are on, and how much your electricity company charges per kilowatt-hour (kWh).
Buy Energy Star Appliances
Consider all the major appliances you use. Your stove, refrigerator, water heater, air conditioner, and furnace are all appliances you rely on daily. You use them often, and they do fairly large and important tasks that use significant amounts of energy. The more efficient they are at doing their jobs, the more energy you can save. Buying Energy Star appliances can help with energy savings and performance levels.
Be sure to also take care of your appliances. Learn how to clean them and do simple maintenance tasks so that they run at the highest level of efficiency in your home.
Prioritize Your Heating System
Your heating and cooling systems should also reflect Energy Star models. Heating alone is responsible for almost half of your home’s energy use, and maintenance is also key to keeping these units in good operating condition. Air conditioners or furnaces that aren’t serviced regularly can develop issues that translate to significant energy waste and expensive spikes in your energy bill.
You can also take other steps to boost your HVAC system’s efficiency and keep your home’s warmth indoors during the winter. Some of these steps include adding attic insulation, sealing air leaks, and replacing older windows with energy-efficient thermal windows. Similarly, consider investing in a smart or programmable thermostat that allows you to set your thermostat to follow your daily routines. These changes can save on energy usage in the home and help you to stay on top of your overall energy consumption.
If you make changes to your home through some of the ways described, you should notice a difference when you check your energy consumption rates on your monthly bills.