H

omeowners are encountering a huge spike in energy prices due to the distressed global energy supply. Rising natural gas prices pushed up wholesale energy prices, which, in turn, put downward pressure on the retail electricity market. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), residential energy costs will reach about $0.1475 per kilowatt-hour in 2022 and are poised to rise further exceeding 15 cents per kilowatt-hour.

As industry experts point out, such energy rates often become too much of a burden for householders, and many of them are already behind on their energy bills. Despite the economical use of electricity at home being more relevant than ever, a lot of consumers are still reluctant to get deeper into this topic, as they believe energy savings always imply giving up a great deal of comfort. But the truth is, there are a whole bunch of simple ways to cut energy costs with little to no effort.

To most people, saving energy at home is limited to turning off lights in empty rooms, which is an excellent energy conscious habit to start with. There are, however, plenty of other things that you should consider, from the responsible use of household appliances to outfitting your home with solar panels. So if you’d like to find out more, here are some practical tips on energy conservation in the home.

Simple ideas on how to reduce energy bills

Seal air leaks in your home to waste less energy

Space heating is the largest part of energy expenses in most homes, accounting for up to 50% of total energy costs. So you should really start paying closer attention to energy consumption for heating, as its reduction can lead to huge savings on energy costs.

Air leakage is the first thing to fix when optimizing your heating expenses. Air leaks in and out of your home through the holes in the so-called building envelope comprised of walls, roofs, doors, and windows. These holes ranging from large to almost unnoticeable can ramp up your energy spending - most homeowners could save around 20% on their heating costs by fixing them.

You can either hire a home air sealing contractor or seal the leaks yourself. To find them, inspect outside walls for large holes, then for smaller gaps. You should also check the doors and window frames using burning incense sticks as a leak detector. Cold air can also come through electrical outlets and switches, as they are cut straight into the walls and the area around them isn’t normally well-insulated. After you’ve detected all the holes and gaps, seal them with caulk or canned spray foam.

Improve your home insulation

Talking about heat loss, poor or absent home insulation is another way to drive up your electricity costs. Insulating your house properly, on the other hand, can help you bring your heating and cooling costs down by 15%, and your overall energy costs by 11%.

Home insulation means trapping hot air inside a building and resisting the cold from outdoors, which is typically done by covering external walls and roofs with such materials as fiberglass or polystyrene. In this way, less heat escapes through the walls and ceiling, and more of it stays inside your home allowing you to reduce the load on the heating system and lower your energy spending.

Turn appliances off when unused

Despite how clichéd this tip may seem, no energy saving guide is complete without it. Even though leaving home electric devices on can represent up to 10% of an electricity bill, many consumers still don’t stick to the simple rule of switching them off when exiting a room.

Bear in mind that home electric appliances in standby mode still consume energy. This “phantom” energy load can sometimes be even greater than that during active use, and reducing it can make a big difference in your energy bill.

So how do you put an end to the standby energy leakage? The most effective way is simply unplugging the most energy demanding home appliances, such as computers, games consoles, and electric chargers.

Choose energy efficient lightbulbs

In case you still have incandescent light bulbs in your home, changing them for energy efficient lights is one of the easiest ways to push down your electricity costs. When you switch to LED light bulbs, you can enjoy the same amount of light for less money, as LEDs use 70-90 % less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. Thanks to this, LED lighting can dramatically lower your energy costs by around $225 annually.

Cut water consumption

Another way to trim your energy bill is to use less hot water. Take showers instead of baths and limit them to 5 minutes. You can also consider switching to a water saving shower head – it can cut your water consumption in half by regulating the flow of water.

When it comes to the laundry room, buying an energy efficient washing machine is the first tip on the list. You should also try washing with a cold cycle, use water saving settings and adjust the water level to the size of the load.

In the kitchen, you can cut back water heating costs by replacing old dishwashers with water efficient ones and running them only on full loads.

Adjust your thermostat for higher energy savings

Another way of saving energy in home is dialing down your thermostat at night or when you are gone for the day. For example, you can keep it at 68 degrees F in the daytime and decrease the temperature by two degrees before leaving the house. You can also install a programmable thermostat that allows setting a specific temperature schedule based on your family's daily habits. There are even more advanced smart thermostats, that can seamlessly modify the temperature to suit your schedule so that you won’t have to manually control anything.

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Save on energy bills when cooking

Food preparation makes up a significant portion of the total energy we use at home, so developing a few energy conservation habits can help you save on energy bill while cooking.

You can start by following several simple rules regarding your oven use. Firstly, avoid opening the oven door too often while cooking because you can waste up to 20% of the heat. Secondly, turn the oven off a few minutes before finishing cooking, as the residual heat is usually enough to continue the baking process for 10 minutes or more. When possible, try to prepare several dishes simultaneously: cooking in batches will help reduce both preparation time and energy costs.

When using a stove, homeowners often make the mistake of putting small pots and pans on a large burner, which increases the costs more than you might think. For example, placing a 6-inch pan on an 8-inch cooker ring wastes more than 40% of the heat created by the stove, so it’s better to use cookware covering the whole size of the ring.

And finally, don’t forget to use lids on your pots and pans when cooking: this will allow you to set a lower temperature on the stove and consume up to 66% less energy.

Use your fridge wisely to consume less energy

Home refrigerators eat up a lot of energy and account for up to 7% of the average electricity bill. Fridges are among the few domestic appliances that must be switched on 24 hours a day, which makes them the biggest electricity users after heating and cooling systems and hot water systems.

First of all, you should give thought to upgrading your fridge. Refrigerators keep becoming more energy efficient, so the fridge which was considered the most advanced 10 years ago may consume twice as much energy as most up-to-date models.

It is also it's important to pick the right location in the kitchen and place your fridge at a distance from heat elements such as ovens and radiators. Also ensure it is kept away from direct sunlight, as exposure to heat makes the compressor work harder. Make sure there’s at least 5 cm of extra room around the top, back, and sides so that the heat from the compressor could escape.

Avoid putting hot food in your refrigerator, as it raises the internal temperature making the fridge work more intensively to bring it down. If a refrigerator door gasket is damaged, it should be repaired or replaced quickly to prevent heat loss.

Learn how renewables can cut your energy costs

If you’re wondering how to unlock even greater savings on your energy bills, the most efficient way is harnessing renewable energy. Common renewable technologies among householders are solar photovoltaics (PV) and small wind power systems. Wind turbines are considered more efficient as they convert up to 60% of the wind's kinetic energy into electricity, but they are much more demanding on location and space, therefore less suitable for urban environments.

Solar panels, on the other hand, offer a more versatile option perfect for both rural and urban settings. Only in the US, almost 3 million households already embrace the cost saving opportunities solar energy brings. PV installations slash monthly energy costs by up to 70% enabling US solar owners to save around $1,500 a year.

Posted 
Jul 3, 2023
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