If your energy bill seems out of control, there’s a good chance that you are using some inefficient appliances and other items that are responsible for the increase. Though replacing these items is certainly an investment, the utility savings you can enjoy will more than make up for it over the course of these items’ lives.
Believe it or not, your refrigerator is one of the biggest consumers of energy in your home. Over the course of the last five to 10 years, refrigerators have become about 50% more efficient, which means it’s well worth the investment. Before you decide whether to replace your refrigerator, consider its age. If it’s five years old or less, head over to the Energy Star website to find out whether replacing it will truly pay off. If you choose to buy a new one, look for energy-efficient models with top or bottom freezers as these are the most energy efficient. It’s also important to remember that ice makers and through-the-door dispenser models use 20% more energy than those without.
Your HVAC System
If your furnace or air conditioner is 15 years old (or more), it’s time to consider a replacement. Each and every year, manufacturers find new technologies that drastically improve their efficiency, so waiting decades between replacements may actually end up costing you more in terms of energy use. Again, check out the Energy Star website to find out whether a replacement would truly benefit you, and if you choose to replace your system, be sure that you pick a high-efficiency model that offers a good SEER rating and is the right size for your home. Improperly-sized HVAC units will drive up your energy costs tremendously no matter how efficient they are.
Your Water Heater
Your old tank-style water heater utilizes as much as 17% of the natural gas or propane energy in your entire home, and they are notoriously inefficient, too. Keeping 50 gallons of water hot requires a lot of energy, and if you aren’t regularly draining your tank, then that energy essentially goes to waste. If you will replace your unit with a new tank-style water heater, look for one that offers about 75% efficiency to see a noticeable difference in your energy bills, and do some research on the model’s insulation to ensure it will run as little as possible. You may also prefer a tankless water heater that can provide hot water on demand; these are 10% to 20% more efficient than the tank-style options.
This may come as a surprise when you consider that today’s electronics are designed to be incredibly efficient. A flat-screen TV uses only a fraction of the power of its old tube-style counterpart, for example. Nonetheless, with all the devices we use these days – computers, tablets, mobile phones, and more – and with televisions and cable boxes in nearly every room, this truly adds up. Consider “smart outlets” that can automatically shut down power to an entire area, thus reducing consumption. Be sure to unplug these electronics when not in use and shut down your computers, too.
Numerous things add to your energy bill, but the four listed above are those responsible for the biggest increases. By replacing them with energy-efficient models, and by switching your standard outlets for smart ones that can stop the supply of power to the gadgets attached to them, you can see some drastic savings in your energy bills while you reduce your carbon footprint at the same time.