The Surprising Ways You Are Wasting Energy At Home Every Day
I never realized how much energy I was wasting in my home until I started paying closer attention. There are so many little ways we use energy inefficiently without even thinking about it. Making some simple changes has helped me reduce my energy usage and save money on my utility bills. Here are some of the most surprising ways I discovered I was wasting energy every day.
Using Inefficient Appliances
One of the biggest energy wastes turned out to be my old, inefficient appliances. I had no idea how much energy something as basic as a refrigerator could use until I looked up the stats.
- My old refrigerator from the 90s used almost twice as much electricity as a new Energy Star certified model.
- The same was true for my aging clothes washer and dryer. Replacing them with ENERGY STAR models saved me about $75 per year in utility bills.
- My dishwasher was also ready for retirement. A new efficient one uses only 3-4 gallons of water per load, compared to my old one that used over 9!
I never realized that simply replacing old, inefficient appliances with new ENERGY STAR certified models could make such a dent in my home’s energy use. The upgrade cost was worth it considering the energy savings.
Leaving Lights On
This one may seem obvious, but it can really add up fast!
- I was shocked by how much energy I wasted by leaving lights on in unused rooms.
- I got in the habit of manually turning lights on and off whenever I entered or left a room.
- Installing motion sensor lights in frequently used rooms also helped cut down on waste.
- I switched most of my lighting to LED bulbs which use at least 75% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs.
It seems simple, but remembering to turn off lights in unoccupied rooms has significantly cut my lighting energy use. This was one of the easiest ways I found to reduce energy waste in my home.
Leaving Devices Plugged In
This was one bad habit I never realized I had. I left unused appliances, electronics, and chargers plugged in even when powered off. I figured since they were “off” they weren’t using energy. I was wrong!
- Any device plugged into an outlet continues to draw a small amount of standby power, even when switched off.
- My TV alone was consuming over $15 per year in standby energy use.
- Unplugging devices or using smart power strips to cut standby power draw can reduce this hidden energy waste.
Chargers for phones and laptops are some of the worst offenders. Unplugging them when not in use avoids that standby power drain. This simple habit has reduced my phantom energy use considerably.
Running Large Appliances Half-Full
I never thought twice about throwing a few items into the washer or dishwasher instead of waiting until I had a full load. Or letting the oven preheat when only cooking a single portion. But using large appliances inefficiently really adds up.
- Only running full loads in the washer, dryer and dishwasher has significantly cut my energy waste.
- I wait until I have a large batch of items before using these big appliances.
- For the oven, I avoid preheating for cooking small portions. I also stagger baking tasks to limit preheating cycles.
Being mindful of fully loading the dishwasher, washer and dryer has been one of the best ways I’ve reduced energy waste. Only using the oven at full capacity has helped too.
Setting Thermostat Too High or Low
I’m guilty of cranking up the heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. But I tried to be more aware of reasonable temperature settings this past year. It paid off.
- I lowered my programmable thermostat 5-7 degrees at night and when away during the day.
- In summer I kept the house around 78 degrees rather than my usual 72 degrees.
- Simply dialing the thermostat to more moderate temps can cut HVAC energy use by up to 10%.
I even installed a smart thermostat to better regulate the temperature day and night. Setting reasonable thermostat temps and using a programmable thermostat have been great ways to reduce my home’s heating and cooling costs.
Poorly Maintained HVAC System
I’ll admit I was overdue for regular maintenance of my heating and cooling system. I figured as long as it was working, I was good. Turns out lack of maintenance can lead to serious energy waste.
- A yearly tune-up improves the efficiency of HVAC systems by as much as 20%
- Replacing old air filters monthly reduces strain on the system.
- Regular maintenance helps ensure your HVAC runs when needed, while minimizing energy use.
Having my HVAC professionally serviced yearly seems like a small thing, but it pays off in energy savings. I’m kicking myself for not doing it sooner.
The little ways we unconsciously waste energy really do add up. But now that I know where my home is inefficient, I’ve been able to greatly reduce energy waste through some simple solutions. The effort has really paid off in energy bill savings! Hopefully these surprising tips can help others identify energy waste areas in their own homes.