|Turn up the Heat! Tips for Home Energy Efficiency|
|Written by alice freda|
|Wednesday, 27 June 2012 15:20|
The average Mid-Atlantic household uses 25 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per day. To put this figure into recognizable terms, that's roughly equal to: using a hairdryer 30 times (2 minutes each), microwaving 31 meals, or running your clothes dryer for 8 hours. However, unless you're feeding a small army (or doing their laundry), you're probably not using these appliances at that frequency.
So what exactly adds up to those 25 KWh of electricity usage/day? The single largest home energy hog is its heating & cooling system, accounting for almost 40% of an average home's electricity needs. Next on the list is water heating, consuming about 25% of a home's electricity needs. Your washer/dryer and refigerator round out another 20%.
The most commonly cited method of improving home energy efficiency is swapping incandescent blubs for compact fluorescents or LEDs, but lighting only accounts for 7% of the average home's energy usage. This means that even in device laden households, home's with lots of light fixtures, and home's of budding chefs, addressing the efficiency of your HVAC system and your Water Heater are the two most significant things you can do to increase home efficiency - and in turn decrease your monthly utility bills.
While we don't necessarily recommend going AC-less during the summer (that could be a health hazard, not to mention extremely uncomfortable), adjusting your thermostat by just 1 or 2 degrees can result in a savings of $25+/month (depending upon how large your home is) during the summer. Getting a home energy audit can be an eye opening experience, as you learn just how inefficient the average home is and how a few simple and relatively inexpensive upgrades and fixes can mean long term savings in the thousands. Another recommendation to increase the efficiency of your HVAC is upgrading your thermostat to one that is programmable, which you can set so that your system only runs when you're actually home.
To increase the efficiency of your hot water system, there are two particularly interesting and efficient alternatives to the conventional hot water tank. The first is a solar water heater. Installing a solar thermal system on your roof can chop your monthly gas bill by 2/3 (if your current hot water system is run on natural gas). Savings can be even higher for homes that heat their water with electricity. With a Maryland state rebate, sales of renewable energy credits, county incentives, and a 30% Federal tax credit, the net cost of a new solar hot water system is around $3,000 with an average payoff in as little as 6 years! An average family of four with an electric water heater can expect to save $500 per year after installing a solar hot water system. Click HERE to learn more about solar hot water.
Another alternative to hot water tanks is a tankless water heater. These provide hot water right when you need it, without a storage tank. Tankless heaters can use electricity, gas, or propane as a heat source, and in some cases can cut your water-heating bill by 20%. The savings are realized by eliminating standby losses - energy wasted by warmed water sitting around unused in a large tank. However, tankless heaters work better for smaller households. Residential-sized models on the market supply on average five gallons of hot water per minute - a comfortable enough output for a house with one or two people. If you have a large family, however, and need to do laundry and wash dishes at the same time as others shower, a tankless system may not be appropriate in meeting your hot water needs. Click HERE to learn more about tankless water heaters.
Of course simpler and free (or cheap) measures like the ones below can have outsize results in increasing your home's efficiency and reducing your energy bills.
I'm like many mothers I know, concerned about the planet our kids will inherit and overwhelmed by daily life. Clean Currents made it simple and affordable to switch to 100% wind power, without breaking my back or the bank.
- Residential Customer Michelle Culp