As we progress, there is immense technological advancement and hence the greater need for energy, with that comes more stress on the already depleting natural resources! Over the last few decades, research has yielded more energy efficient devices and machines. For e.g. it is estimated the dishwashers and refrigerators use almost half the energy they needed a couple of decades ago. However, with modernization and these household gadgets being more accessible to people and of course the rise in the American population, sadly the energy usage has not seen a reduction. While we have sophisticated machines to heat, cool or power our homes, and with the rise in per capita income, people have bigger homes, so there is a greater need for the energy to keep our homes functioning properly.
Therefore, it is time we took a serious view of the matter and put in as much effort as possible to lower our energy consumption, it will do wonders for our monthly budget as well as the environment. As the environmental scientists have pointed out that with the rise in population, there will be more need of energy to power a greater number of homes, therefore our efforts to fight against pollution will need to be strengthened and each household needs to reduce their energy consumption and save energy through each and every minutest way possible. It is much easier to save energy than to produce it.
Moreover, the funniest part is approx 20% of our energy bills (and energy consumption) can be reduced by eliminating energy wastage. While our appliances are becoming more energy, efficient, but newer gadgets come into our homes every year and hence our total energy consumption is rising. Added to this are the leaking ducts and pipes that cause loss of energy while heating or cooling our homes. This along with the unseen losses through chargers, computer power cables and DVRs, which according to the U.S. Department of Energy, continue to draw power even when the main devices connected to them are set to switch off. These seem to account for 10-15% of our energy bills every month.
With the rise in population, there is a growing demand for energy and hence the cost of producing it is rising too and it is becoming costlier day by day, in terms of both the bills as well as the environment. Therefore, more efficient our gadgets and our cooling and heating systems are, the lesser is monthly expenses and lesser is the environmental exploitation. Therefore, it may be worthwhile to assess the energy efficiency within our homes and take the necessary steps to make our homes more energy efficient.
Choose Star Rated Appliances
When you buy energy efficient equipments, you are not only saving your energy bills but also contributing towards a greener Earth. Therefore, the question is how do you know if an appliance is energy efficient or not?
It is simple; all you need to do is look for the right EnergyGuide label or the Energy Star logo and compare the products basis their energy efficiency before you buy them. Here’s how:
The EnergyGuide Label: it is mandatory for any heating or cooling system that you buy. It tells you how much energy it consumes and how it performs in comparison with other similar products. In case you are not buying the physical product then you may not see the details on the appliance, but you can find out on the website either on a brochure or factsheet information. In case you do not see it, you should ask the dealer for it as, the EnergyGuide label is a requirement under the Appliance Labeling Rule, enforced by the FTC.
This label not only helps you understand how efficient the equipment is but it fares in comparison with other similar models. Therefore as the efficiency increases, the operating cost of the machine goes down, hence your monthly bills also reduce. Therefore, you may be surprised to find out that appliance which you thought was more expensive actually works out to be cheaper in the long run due to its energy efficiency. Therefore, you might want to consider the price differential as not an extra expense but an investment towards lowering your bills and saving the environment too.
The EnergyGuide Label on a product denotes the following:
- Product Dimensions- the make, model specs and size
- Specifications- The key features of the product as well as other similar models that fall within the same range
- Competitors Cost Range- this helps you get a good idea of the product in comparison with the similar models’ efficiency vis-à-vis the price.
So, if you are going to buy an appliance or gadget in the near future, do not forget to look through the label. Well it is not available for all the appliances but most of them have it like the dishwashers or refrigerators, T.V. water heaters, A.C.s etc. However, you may not be able to get this direct info for stuff like dryers, humidifiers. If you would like to know more about the EnergyGuide label, then you can visit energystar.gov.
How Do We Reduce The Monthly Energy Bill?
Though the energy consumption is on the rise with the increase in population, people are waking up to the harmful effects on the environment on an individual as well as a collective level. Technological advancements are bringing in new machines into our lives, which mean more and more automation of our mundane chores, but at the same time more gadgets to consumer power around the house. However, concern for the ecological degradation and pollution, as well as the growing costs of fuel have resulted in our appliances being more energy efficient. Along with the same new techniques are being adopted to reduce the energy consumption and increase the savings on the monthly bills.
Millions of dollars are being saved each year by the efforts that reduce energy wastages by adopting greener home building and renovation methods that help in making homes much more energy efficient. Hence, there is a considerable reduction in the monthly bills and all the money saved can be used to pay off the other debts or even boost your monthly savings budget. People are also turning towards green fuel to power their homes to reduce their carbon footprint. Making your homes more energy efficient as well as using green fuel can go a long way in lowering your monthly energy expenses. Therefore, you will have an energy efficient and comfortable home and sustainable too.
How to Get Started
A good starting point will be to go online and do same basic research to gather the relevant information. There is a whole lot of information that you can get from EPA along with tools and calculators to help you with the assessment of your home. Using these tools such as Home Energy Yardstick, Home Energy Advisor, etc. You will be able to validate your energy usage in comparison with other similar homes. You can even get some recommendations on the needed practical improvements that can improve the energy efficiency of your house, even seek or professional audit services to improve the efficiency.
Tips To Improve the Energy Efficiency and Save Your Monthly Bills
A homeowner may wish to go in for a professional energy efficiency audit only if they are planning a major renovation project; it may be still worthwhile to look at ways that even minor changes around the house can help you reduce the wastage and have a good amount of savings. There are areas that normally benefit the most from your attention when you want the energy savings to increase.
Some of the common problem areas you could look for any issues:
Any gaps in the sealing around your doors, windows or skylights, cracks around the house along with ineffective insulation can cause severe losses to your budget by way of energy bills, which are way above what you should be paying. The windows, doors and wall cracks may be letting in or out the air more than they should, which requires your air-conditioner to work much more, and hence your cost of cooling your home goes further up. Similarly, the cost for maintaining a warm home in winters will be higher too.
The cracks and gaps create airflow, which can be as bad as an open window. Therefore, it makes sense to recheck the sealing and insulation around the house to bring down your electricity bills. You can take care of this issue by paying extra attention to the type of windows, doors, skylights and other sealing and insulation materials you use during building or renovating your home. Similarly, gaps in the air ducts and lack of insulation in places that get too hot or cold like attics, garages can go a long way in reducing the energy bills.
Use Energy Efficient Appliances and Systems
It is important to use energy efficient equipments and appliance around the house to lower your electricity bills. As study shows that 80% of the energy that a household uses on an average goes towards heating or cooling, hence these equipments, need to be effective as well as energy efficient. Along with buying the right equipments, you must also pay attention towards the installation and maintenance of these in the right condition.
It is important to buy certified energy efficient equipments, like those that have Energy Star ratings and equally important is to get your installation done by a good professional agency as improper installation can cause your energy bills to go up by almost 30% as well as cause early breakdowns. Regular checkups and annual maintenance must be carried out for your heating and cooling systems to work efficiently and prevent breakdowns and sudden expensive repairs. It is good if you hire a professional company to clean and maintain these equipments.
Using Green Energy
The Earth’s geothermal energy provides a good source of heat that travels to the surface of the Earth from its core. Contrary to popular belief, this source can be harnessed to heat and cool your homes, no matter where you live in the U.S. So, you do not need to have an access to a hot spring, geyser or any other such heat sources make use of the Earth’s geothermal energy. There are other renewable sources of energy that can be used to power your homes such as solar, wind, biomass and low-impact hydropower energy. This is useful for bringing down your electricity bills as well as reducing the environmental pollution.
Heating & Cooling Only Areas in Frequent Use
Another great way to save fuel and hence your electricity bills is to heat or cool only sections your home that you use. In case of central air-conditioning, if there are portions of your home that you do not use frequently, then the vents and air registers in those areas can be closed to direct the airflow to the areas that are in use. However, in winter, the areas that are cooler than the rest of the house will need to be heated, to make the heating more effective. However, before adopting this strategy you should check your HVAC system as closing vents can bring down the overall efficiency of some systems or cause humidity related issues.
Improving Indoor Air-Circulation
Another low-cost but effective strategy is to allow fresh air to cool the indoor temperature. In good weather, the fresh air can make the indoor temperatures quite pleasant, especially at night. There are a number of devices that can increase the airflow and consume minimal amount of energy like the window fans, ceiling fans or kitchen fans. These can be low cost options to cool your homes. You can even get energy efficient products to improve your savings further. However, when the weather is very hot or humid or there is a lot of pollen in the air, this strategy may not be effective and you will need to turn on the air-conditioning and close the windows
Complete House Retrofit
When piece-meal methods seem inappropriate to lower the energy bills considerably, one needs to go for a whole house renovation strategy to improve the energy efficiency. This may include replacing the windows, or the HVAC system or the ducting. Qualified contractors should be employed as otherwise; the whole purpose may be defeated or become more expensive than it should be.
Changing a dark color roof to a ‘cool’ colored one can bring down the indoor temperatures during peak summer months. This can help you reduce the air-conditioning use in summers and keep your indoor temperatures down.
Using Natural Light
Effective use of windows and skylights can help you bring more light that is natural into your homes. This can be used in the cooler months to warm us the home’s interiors. You can even use specialized windows that only allow light into your homes but filters out the heat. This can reduce the use of light bulbs at least during the day.
These are some of the ways to improve the energy efficiency around the house as well as increase your savings every month. There are many other techniques that can be employed at the time of constructing the building to make the home more energy. This will go a long way in reducing your outflow every month towards electricity bills and contribute towards the environment.