In recent years we have all heard about a slew of energy efficient products just waiting for consumers to buy them. These products promise to save us money and save the environment, some could even claim to save the world one purchase at a time. As a home owner what are you truly saving? We certainly aren't saving gas by running from one store to the next to search out the best deal on energy efficient products and we aren't saving money by buying these things on credit either. Until we stop buying products that try to change the laws of physics and thermodynamics we really aren't going to save anything.
I recognize a real need for change. But that change doesn't start with buying a new appliance it starts with how we as individuals use appliances to begin with. While I am all for big companies making appliances that are meant to use less energy the average homeowner trying to stay afloat during a credit crisis just can't afford them. As a homeowner who is conscious of the world around me and a need for viable change that is within my grasp I have compiled this list.
If you can't build a chest refrigerator there are some simple habits you can form to make your upright refrigerator more efficient. You should keep the door on your refrigerator leak free and closed as much as possible. You should also keep it full. Keeping the fridge full ensures there is less space within to continually cool as the products inside will keep their temperature unless they are removed for long periods of time. You should also thaw all items from the freezer in your refrigerator as this will keep the fridge from turning on during the time that the frozen food is thawing.
Hot Water Heaters
Every homeowner may not be able to build a solar hot water heater but there are steps you can take to lower the energy usage of the hot water heater you already have. Insulate all hot water pipes to reduce the amount of energy lost from hot water running to your faucets. Insulate the hot water tank itself to eliminate the need for reheating water that has already been heated. If you have an electric hot water heater you can reduce the reheating need further by setting your hot water heater on an automatic timer. I think in the future all water heaters should come with this option however I don't work for General Electric so I can only tell you why it is a good idea. It is unnecessary to heat water while no one will be using it. Your hot water heater could be needlessly heating water up to 15 hours a day. Consider the peak usage hours for hot water in your home and then set the appliance to work on an automatic timer so that you are only heating water when you need it. Eliminate the need for electricity further by simply installing an on off switch to the hot water heater. If you have insulated the tank well the water will stay hot long after the tank has turned off.
Despite the change to a more energy efficient bulb we are still lighting our homes when other opportunities exist. First we could all open the curtains. I know it sounds simple but the reality is that energy efficiency often is simple. Solar tubes are another viable option for homeowners that desperately need the light and admittedly don't want to pay their power companies for it. These tubes are similar to skylights however they focus light where you need it the most. If you made a simple change to let in more sunlight you could save big dollars over the life of your home. Lets assume you lowered the amount of time you used electricity to light your home to 5 hours a day. This change could save more than $1200.00 over the life of your mortgage.
As much as 10,980 watt hours a month can be consumed by one appliance functioning on a phantom load. That translates into 11 kilowatt hours. Kilowatt hours is how you are billed by your electric company and it is usually at a rate of around $0.08 per kilowatt. While $0.88 cents for a phantom load might not seem like much multiply that by the number of appliances in your home. I found that I had 30 appliances in my home drawing a phantom load. That's $26.00 a month that I was paying for absolutely nothing. Over the life of a mortgage a homeowner can easily pay $10,000.00 or more for appliances in stand by mode. When we think about it like that we can all agree that phantom loads need to be eliminated. You can eliminate phantom loads by switching appliances to a power bar with an on off switch. Find one that does NOT have a light on it so that you don't create another load that you don't need.
There are further ways a homeowner can reduce the way they use energy. Using space heaters instead of a central heating unit can save $1200.00 a year in home heating costs. Washing laundry in cold water can further reduce your bills by $167.00 a year and using a drying rack can drop your bill by $147.00 more. All of these little things that seem so inconsequential can add up to real savings. Those savings can be spent however you would like. Pay off your home early, go on a cruise, do something to reward yourself for your diligent use of energy efficiently.