Most Common Wastes of Energy

August 12, 2015

Cutting energy costs often comes down to cutting energy waste. Unfortunately, in your daily efforts to make the temperature in your home cool or have the right amount of light in a room or even just use daily electronics, you’re throwing away energy and money. Fortunately, for every way that you waste energy, there’s also something you can do to cut down on the waste so that you can save energy—and money.

1. Overusing air condition or heating. As we wrote in “The Top 7 Most Energy-Hungry Appliances,” roughly 50% of the average American energy bill is consumed by the HVAC unit. So that means that any energy wasted by the appliance is leading to lots of lots dollars. However, despite the cost of heating and cooling a home, many people still heat or cool their home to unnecessarily warm or cool temperatures when simple means could provide comfort without the expense. In winter, using blankets, sweaters and other warm clothing and materials is an easy (and likely free) way to keep yourself warm. In summer, using fans, closing window blinds, and taking the other steps we mention in “Ways to Save on Energy Use in the Summer” and “How to Get the Most Out of Your House Fans” offer inexpensive ways to cool your home without so drastically increasing your energy bill.

2. Letting hot or cool air escape. Once again, the expensive HVAC unit is the target here. You spend hundreds of dollars a year on heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. So why throw it away? But that could easily be happening. One reason might be accidentally leaving doors open in the winter or summer. A more likely cause could be leaks in your house—such as in air ducts or around windows or doors. You can have a professional check for and seal leaks throughout your house. The money you spend to have them fixed could help you save big on your energy costs.

3. Not regulating temperature throughout the day. As we wrote in “Benefits of a Programmable Thermostat”, cooling or heating your home when you’re not in it—or at night when you’re in bed—is a major waste of energy. You’re likely out of your house for 8 – 10 hours a day, and asleep for somewhere around 8, which means that for 16 – 18 hours of the day, there’s no need to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home, and doing so is wasting energy. You can manage temperature manually. However, investing in a programmable thermostat will ensure that you are managing your home’s temperature to the best of your ability, and using that costly HVAC unit as efficiently as possible.

4. Lights. You leave them on when you walk out of rooms. You use more than you need when you’re in a room. You might use energy-hungry bulbs. Leaving lights on or using the wrong type of bulb is one of the easiest ways to waste energy in your home. That means managing how you use lights—and the types of lights you use—is a cheap and easy way to decrease energy use and costs.

5. “Vampire” Electronics. Electronics are constantly using energy. Even if they’re in standby, they’re still using energy. And think about how many electronics you have plugged in at any time: computers, TVs, DVD players, video game machines, printers, cellphone chargers. They’re everywhere in your house, and they’re all using energy, slowly sucking it throughout the day—hence the nickname “vampire”. The easiest way to keep these energy consumers from eating energy is by turning them off, not leaving them in standby mode. Unplugging them completely is a good way to ensure that they’re not using any energy at all.

These are the most common activities and items in a home that commonly waste energy. Think about your own home and the appliances and devices you often use. Can you think of any that you could use less, make more efficient, or turn off completely to make sure you’re saving energy?


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