Most advice about home energy savings involves big projects, like insulating your attic, replacing old windows or buying Energy STAR rated appliances. But what can you do right now at home to save energy, just by making a few changes? We’ve come up with six easy ways to save money by making a few adjustments at home.
If you’re a parent, tracking down wasted energy is a great way to teach kids how to live more responsibly every day. Walk through the house with your child looking at the Power Meter view in the Sense app. They’ll be able to instantly see how much energy your family is saving as they turn off each device or you discuss replacing it.
1. Turn off your consumer electronics.
Gadgets that stay on continuously, which includes consumer electronics and common devices like radon fans, account for 23% of the average electricity bill, which translates into $322 annually. Your gadgets are silently, stealthily trickling energy savings out of your pocketbook. Take a tour of your home and put your printers, PCs, laptops, home entertainment equipment and gaming systems on power strips -- smart ones, if you have them -- and turn them off when they are not in use. Some things have to remain on, of course, like a cable box, but does your printer need to stay in idle mode all the time?
If you’re a smart home gadget lover, Sense’s research shows that homes with more than 15 consumer electronic devices have much higher idle loads than average homes. They also offer the potential for bigger savings when you turn off devices that are not in use.
2. Find every incandescent bulb and replace it.
We know how it is -- you’ve been buying LEDs to replace old bulbs as they burn out, which seems like the most frugal approach. But those old incandescents use up to 70% more energy and burn out 25 times quicker than LEDs. And they can lurk in odd places like inside your fridge or oven, or in your ceiling fixtures and outdoor lights. See how much energy you can save by replacing them.
3. Turn off the extra freezer, fridge or wine cooler.
This may seem like the worst of times to consolidate your food into a single refrigerator, but if your extra fridge or freezer is an older model that’s been retired to a garage or basement, it’s far less energy efficient than newer models. A ten-year old refrigerator could cost $53 annually, depending on the model, and a chest style freezer could cost $35 annually. Decide if that extra cooling is necessary. For the fridges that remain in operation, give them a spring cleaning by vaccuuming the condenser coils, inspecting and cleaning the door gaskets for a proper seal, and checking that the temperature settings are correct (at or below 40 degrees for fridge and at 0 degrees for the freezer).
Wine chillers operate at higher temperatures so they use less energy than fridges. Having said that, a new Frigidaire wine cooler’s annual operating cost is $42.
4. Clean out the dryer vent.
As lint collects in your dryer vent, the drying cycle becomes less efficient and runs longer, wasting money. If the vent becomes blocked, it’s a fire hazard. So take advantage of a warm spring day to clean out the dryer duct and vent, being sure to follow safe practices. A few more ways to save energy while drying laundry:
- Make sure your washing machine spin cycle is working well so your dryer uses less energy
- As warm spring days arrive, hang your clothes out to dry, and
- Set the dryer to the delicate cycle, which uses less energy overall.
5. Turn off the coffee maker after your morning cup.
Many coffee makers have a warming mode that can stay on all day and use more energy than you might think. For instance, when heating for the first time after being off, the peak usage of a Keurig coffee maker is 1,500 watts. If the power is kept on, the brewer will keep the internal tank up to temperature using between 200 – 400 watts when heating. While idle and not maintaining heat, the brewer will still use the average electricity of a 60 watt light bulb. That idle heat alone translates into $60 on your annual electricity bill, without taking account the energy usage during warming mode.
Instead of letting the coffeemaker warm, use your microwave to reheat a mug of coffee or set an alert in the Sense app to remind you to switch off the coffeemaker sooner.
The most common type of coffee maker usage peaks during start-up as it heats. If the power is kept on, the brewer will spike up to 200-400 watts to maintain heat.
6. Find your home’s hidden energy hogs.
If you have the Sense monitor and are spending your time at home now, take the opportunity to track down your home’s energy hogs in the Sense app. Sense customers have shared stories about all sorts of hidden energy drains, including out-of-control heat pumps, inefficient water heaters, demanding fans and pool pumps that never stop cycling. As Sense identifies devices in your home, you’ll see exactly how much money they are costing you and can decide if it’s time to make a change.