How to Drastically Reduce Your Energy Usage Without Compromising Your Lifestyle
Reducing your energy usage can seem daunting, but with some simple changes, you can drastically cut your energy consumption without compromising your lifestyle. Here are some of the most effective ways to reduce your energy usage:
Evaluate Your Biggest Energy Users
The first step is identifying where you use the most energy in your home. The biggest energy hogs are typically:
Heating and cooling – This can account for over 50% of home energy use. Focus on adjusting the thermostat and improving insulation.
Water heating – Water heating can account for 14-25% of energy use. Take shorter showers, use cold water for laundry, and insulate hot water pipes.
Appliances and electronics – Refrigeration, cooking appliances, entertainment systems, and lighting use the rest of your home’s energy. Replace old appliances and utilize energy saver settings.
Evaluating your utility bills or using an energy monitor can help pinpoint the systems to target first. An energy audit can also identify weaknesses.
Improve Insulation and Seal Air Leaks
Improving your home’s insulation and sealing any air leaks are two of the most effective ways to boost energy efficiency. According to the Department of Energy, you can reduce your heating and cooling needs by up to 30% through proper insulation and air sealing.
Some ways to improve insulation:
– Add insulation to the attic and exterior walls.
– Replace old windows and doors with energy efficient models.
– Use weather stripping and caulk to seal air leaks around windows, doors, pipes, and wiring.
A home energy audit using a blower door test can identify the biggest air leaks to target.
Adjust the Thermostat Strategically
Heating and cooling accounts for a huge portion of home energy usage. You can dramatically reduce this by making some thermostat adjustments:
Set the thermostat lower in winter and higher in summer – Every degree lower in winter or higher in summer can save up to 3% on heating and cooling costs.
Use a programmable thermostat – This allows you to customize temperatures for when you are home, asleep, or away.
Install a smart thermostat – Smart thermostats like Nest learn your schedule and automatically optimize heating and cooling.
Use fans and improved circulation – This allows you to feel comfortable at warmer summer settings and cooler winter settings.
Pay attention to humidity levels – Higher humidity feels warmer, allowing you to turn down the thermostat. Lower humidity feels cooler, so you can turn up the thermostat.
With some strategic thermostat adjustments, you can stay comfortable while reducing energy usage.
Upgrade to Energy Efficient Appliances
Appliances account for over 20% of home energy use. Upgrading to energy efficient models can make a significant impact. Here are some of the most effective upgrades:
Refrigerator – Look for an Energy Star certified model. Newer refrigerators use 25-50% less energy than those made before 2000.
Dishwasher – Choose one with booster water heating and energy saving settings. Using cold water and no heat dry settings also saves energy.
Washer and dryer – Wash with cold water instead of hot. Air dry clothes instead of using the dryer. Front loading washing machines are also more efficient.
Water heater – Insulate your water heater and set the temperature to 120°F. For big savings, install a heat pump water heater.
Cooking appliances – Induction cooktops use 50% less energy than electric and 70% less than gas. Convection ovens are also more efficient.
Prioritize upgrading the appliances you use most frequently for the biggest energy savings.
Change Lighting to LED Bulbs
Replacing incandescent and CFL light bulbs with LEDs can reduce lighting energy use by 80-90%. LED bulbs also last years longer. Some tips:
Upgrade most used fixtures first like kitchen, living room, outdoor, and bathrooms.
Use lights on timers and motion sensors so they’re only on when needed.
Use task lighting like desk lamps instead of lighting a whole room.
Turn off lights when leaving a room to build the habit.
LEDs provide the same brightness using a fraction of the energy and rarely need replacing.
Shift Usage to Non-Peak Hours
Electricity costs fluctuate based on demand throughout the day. By shifting usage of appliances and electronics to non-peak hours, you can reduce energy costs. Some ways to shift usage:
Run the dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer in the early morning or late evening.
Cook, bake, and perform other major appliance tasks outside of 4-7pm.
Set timers on lights and electronics.
Charge devices and electric cars overnight.
Checking your electric company’s website for peak usage hours can help inform your schedule. Taking advantage of lower demand times reduces stress on the grid.
With some effort and investment upfront, reducing your energy usage by 20, 30, or even 50% is achievable without sacrificing comfort. The reward is lower energy bills and a reduced environmental footprint for years to come.