Which Appliance Is the Energy Hog in Your Home?
High utility bills are a major concern for many American households today, and it should come as no surprise that appliances account for a major portion of those bills. But the… ahem… burning question is: which appliance is guilty of being your home’s energy hog? Hawaiian Electric was wondering the same thing, so they did a study (based on the annual energy usage for a family of four, and a cost per kWh of $0.34); here are the results:
A/C (central system) – $1,445
Water heater – $952
Second refrigerator – $680
Lighting – $544
Home entertainment systems – $408
While the numbers will vary according to the size of the household, amount of usage, etc., the point is that if you’re not careful, your appliances can end up costing you much more than you imagined.
So how can you keep your bills under control? Firstly, look at your home as a complete system, with each component working together. A good example of this is the way the central A/C (if you have it) works with lighting. Central A/C systems will monitor a home’s temperature and work to keep it within the set range. If a home is equipped with traditional incandescent light bulbs, these will cause the A/C to work harder to keep the home cool, as these types of bulbs actually produce more heat than light. And that’s a spike in the energy bill right there.
Secondly, get an energy audit with a certified RESNET Home Energy Auditor. An energy audit will reveal any energy deficiencies in your home, and the energy auditor can provide cost-effective solutions to rectify those deficiencies. For more information, contact a certified RESNET Home Energy Auditor in your area.
Top 5 Energy Efficiency Apps
If you’re looking for some app-solutely amazing ways to save energy, check out our infographic on what we think are the top 5 energy efficiency apps!
Make Black Friday Green This Year!
Thanksgiving has got to be one of the best holidays of the year. First, you get to gorge on roast turkey with all the fixings, and then the next day – Black Friday – you can shop for incredible stuff at even more incredible prices… if you can still move, that is! And this year, why not opt for energy efficient versions of amazing Black Friday deals. Here are some of the top picks you should highly consider:
1. ENERGY STAR Qualified Televisions:
TVs have come a long way and are always a popular gift idea. ENERGY STAR labeled models have advantages such as:
- 25% more energy efficient on average than conventional counterparts
- Includes all of the latest technological advancements like 3D, streaming capability and Internet connectivity
- Available in both OLED and LED versions
2. Energy Efficient Soundbar / Speakers
When choosing audio equipment, going the energy efficient route could save you some big bucks not only on Black Friday, but also later on. ENERGY STAR qualified audio equipment can be up to 60% more energy efficient than conventional models.
3. ENERGY STAR Qualified Blu-ray Players
Blu-ray players are VERY popular now and not only are they becoming more affordable, but also more energy efficient. If you’re in the market for a Blu-ray, make sure it’s got the ENERGY STAR label on it – this indicates that it’s 45% more efficient on average than those without the stamp of approval.
Black Friday is a great day to get a fantastic deal on a new computer! Models that are ENERGY STAR qualified use anywhere between 30-60% less energy than non-qualified ones. And, by enabling the computer’s power management feature, you could save up to $90 a year on your electricity bill.
5. Battery Chargers
Rechargeable batteries are great, aren’t they? What makes them even better is if they’re ENERGY STAR qualified, which means they will use around 30% less energy. Look for the ENERGY STAR label on products that come with built-in rechargeable batteries, such as cordless drills, screwdrivers, and shavers for example.
6. Game Consoles
Among the biggest sellers on Black Friday are gaming systems. And what’s great about them is that they can be quite energy efficient too. Newer models don’t use a tremendous amount of energy, and can enter into a low power sleep mode when not being used. This results in long-term energy savings.
7. Energy Efficient Light Bulbs
Energy efficient lighting options such as compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and LED light bulbs are easy and inexpensive ways to reduce energy costs. In comparison to traditional incandescent bulbs, CFLs use less power (25%) to produce more light (50–70 lumens per watt, compared 10–17 lumens per watt). LED light bulbs produce more light, use extremely little power and last 25 times longer than a traditional 60-watt light bulb. So if you spot them on Black Friday, make sure to stock up!
So this Black Friday, when you’re out fighting the crowds, make a beeline for those energy-saving bargains that save you money both immediately and in the future!
How to Maximize Your Fridge’s Energy Efficiency
Now here’s a question for you: which kitchen appliance is always on the go, provides a bright light in the deep dark of night and gives you what you need when you need it? Your refrigerator of course! And as the hardest working appliance in the kitchen, there are a few things you should know about how to keep it functioning in the most energy efficient manner:
- Keeping your refrigerator full helps increase energy efficiency as there is less air to cool due to the space taken by food. On the other hand, overfilling your fridge will hinder air circulation.
- Make sure liquids are covered and stored foods are wrapped. Otherwise, the food will dry out and the moisture released will force the fridge’s compressor to work harder.
- Proper maintenance is key to keeping your refrigerator working properly and more energy efficiently.
- The coils behind the fridge should be cleaned regularly and kept dust-free.
- Regularly defrost the freezer; frost build up more than one quarter of an inch will decrease energy efficiency.
- Make sure door seals are intact. Test this by placing a dollar bill between the door seal and unit; if it slides out easily, your fridge isn’t properly sealed.
- Ensure the compressor is working properly. If your compressor is struggling to cool your fridge, it’s using more energy than necessary and needs to be looked at.
- Set your fridge temperature anywhere between 37 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Your freezer should be at 5 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Finally, location also helps in regard to maximizing energy efficiency. Ensure there’s proper airflow around the fridge so it runs efficiently; avoid locating it near windows, stoves or ovens, as heat will force it to work harder to keep food cool. The best location for your fridge is the coolest area in your kitchen.
Phantom Energy Is Sucking Money out of Your Pocket
Bet you didn’t know there’s such a thing called phantom energy. But there is and before we tell you what phantom energy is, let us explain what it’s NOT:
- It is not the name of the new Star Wars movie
- It has nothing to do with haunted houses or ghosts
- It isn’t a new luxury sports car or sports drink
Phantom energy, also referred to as “vampire power”, is electricity that is drawn from outlets by equipment that’s been switched off but still plugged in. And believe it or not, this is costing you more money than you might think. In fact, phantom energy can account for up to 15% or more of the total electricity used by electronics.
So, what electronics are we talking about, and how much phantom energy are they consuming? Well, the Energy Center of Wisconsin did a study and put together a list of some office equipment and the average watts-per-hour they use when turned off. Take a look:
- Treadmill – 5.6 watts
- Fax machine – 5.2 watts
- Printer – 4.3 watts
- Compact stereo – 4.3 watts
- Tool charger – 4.2 watts
- Battery charger – 2.6 watts
- TV, CRT monitor (26 – 31 inches) – 1.3 watts
- Desktop computer – 2.4 watts
- Modem – 1.5 watts
- Scanner – 1.5 watts
- Monitor – 1.2 watts
- Laptop computers – 0.7 watts
- DVD player – 0.4 watts
The phantom energy draw may seem quite small in some cases but the truth is that over time, it can add up and contribute to a higher energy bill. Now we know what you’re thinking: what on earth can one do to avoid this phantom menace? Sorry – couldn’t resist! The good news is that this is a pretty easy problem to solve:
- Simply unplug gadgets that aren’t being used
- Use a power strip to cut power to multiple electronic devices
- Completely turn off any electronics using stand-by power
- Live in a cave and rely on candle power and the kindness of strangers (okay, maybe not this one)
Energy wastage can end up costing you a significant amount of money, which is no joke. To learn more about how you can save energy and money by making your home energy efficient, talk to a RESNET Home Energy Professional.
How to Choose Energy Efficient Electronics
Residential homes have changed a lot over the last few years. Today’s homes are packed with the type of technology that, while making life more entertaining and easy, can drive household energy bills through the roof. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) states that the average household has around 24 electronic devices. And, consumer electronic products account for nearly 15% of the household bill. However, by investing in ENERGY STAR® qualified electronics, you could save significantly on your electricity bills.
1. Audio and Video
On average, ENERGY STAR models are 60% more energy efficient than standard ones. For example, ENERGY STAR qualified Blu-ray players are 45% more energy efficient than their conventional counterparts. The range of ENERGY STAR qualified audio/video products includes:
- Home theater systems
- Sound bars
- MP3 speaker docks
- Audio amplifiers
- AV receivers
- Blu-ray players
- DVD players
Nearly every household has at least one television. Again, it’s worth your while to invest in ENERGY STAR qualified models. They are, on average, 25% more energy efficient than their basic counterpart, and many incorporate the latest technology including 3D and LED backlighting. By combining an ENERGY STAR qualified TV with an ENERGY STAR blu-ray player, DVD player, audio system and home theater, you could save more than $200 over the lifetime of those products. If every household in the U.S. did this, we could prevent more than 2.2 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions every year.
3. Cable and Set-top Boxes
Many American households watch TV via cable, satellite or an IP device. Again, these devices draw quite a bit of power so it’s worth investing in an ENERGY STAR qualified version. On average, ENERGY STAR qualified set-top boxes are 45% more energy efficient than conventional models. If all the set-top boxes in the U.S. were ENERGY STAR qualified, the resulting energy cost savings would be in the neighborhood of around $3 billion per year, while the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would be equivalent to the emissions of about 3 million cars.
4. Cordless Phones
Cordless phones have become more and more popular over the years. By choosing an ENERGY STAR qualified model, you could save significantly on your costs. ENERGY STAR cordless phones, answering machines, and combination units use about half the energy of non-qualified versions by incorporating improved energy performance features such as switch-mode power supplies and “smart” chargers.
ENERGY STAR qualified computers have to meet stringent energy consumption requirements in order to earn the qualification. For example, ENERGY STAR qualified computers must have efficient internal or external power supplies in order to ensure energy savings when being used and performing tasks. In addition, ENERGY STAR power management features put computers into a low power “sleep mode” after a certain period of inactivity. If all the computers sold in the U.S. were ENERGY STAR qualified, it would save over $1 billion in annual energy costs per year.
ENERGY STAR qualified electronic products come in a wide variety of models and offer the latest in available technology. Look for the ENERGY STAR sticker the next time you’re looking for new electronics.
Which Appliances Cost the Most Money to Run?
Appliances that are not operating in an energy efficient way can be one of the reasons for your high energy bills. If you’re wondering which appliances cost the most money to run, here’s a list of the top five:
1. Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning
The heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system comes in at number one on the list. Up to 44 percent of the typical American homeowner’s utility bill will go towards their HVAC costs. According to ENERGY STAR, once your HVAC system has hit the 15-year mark, you’ll probably have to look into upgrading to an energy efficient version. If replacing your HVAC system is not feasible, here are some steps you can take to help your system work more efficiently:
- Install a programmable thermostat to regulate temperatures.
- Schedule routine maintenance for your HVAC with a RESNET Qualified EnergySmart HVAC contractor.
- Seal and insulate the ducts in your home.
- Ensure your vents are clear of blockage, i.e., furniture, etc.
2. Water Heater
The water heater is number two on the list. According to the Department of Energy (DOE), water heating can account for about 18 percent of a household’s utility bill. Some tips to reduce your water heating costs include:
- Consider installing low-flow faucets and showerheads.
- Repair leaky faucets ASAP – a leaky faucet results in gallons of wasted water.
- Set the thermostat on your water heater to 120°F (a comfortable hot water temperature for most uses).
- Insulate your electric hot-water storage tank.
3. Refrigerator and Freezer
According to the DOE, refrigerators consume the most energy of all kitchen appliances. If your fridge or freezer is more than 15 years old, your best bet is to replace it with a new energy efficient ENERGY STAR model. If that’s not currently an option, you could also:
- Disable the power-saver switch if your fridge has one. This switch activates indoor heaters to reduce external condensation; if you don’t have external condensation, you don’t need the heaters.
- Set the ideal temperatures:
- Refrigerators: 36˚F – 38˚F
- Freezers: 0˚F – 5˚F
- Defrost regularly – more than 0.25 inch of frost buildup impacts energy efficiency.
- Check the door seals by closing the door on a piece of paper to see if it’s held firmly in place; if not, you need to replace the seal.
4. Clothes Dryer
Clothes dryers rank number four on the list. If your dryer is equipped with a moisture sensor, this can be used to increase its efficiency and reduce energy consumption. The moisture sensor turns your dryer off once the clothes are dry. Some other dryer tips include:
- Dry full loads to maximize electricity usage.
- Dry towels and heavier cottons separately from lighter-weight clothes.
- Clean the lint screen after every drying cycle; it improves air circulation and prevents fire hazards.
The last on the list is the dishwasher, which accounts for around two percent of a typical household’s annual electricity bill. If your model dates from 1994 or earlier, it’s time to replace it with an energy efficient ENERGY STAR qualified dishwasher. Otherwise, here are some tips you can follow to reduce your dishwasher’s energy usage:
- Don’t rinse off your dishes – scrape off large food pieces and bones. Only soak or pre-wash dishes with burned or dried-on food.
- Run your dishwasher only when it’s full (but not overloaded).
- Avoid using the “rinse hold” function for only a few dishes; it uses 3-7 gallons of hot water per use.
To find out which systems in your home are operating inefficiently and costing you money, you should contact a certified RESNET Home Energy Auditor for a home energy audit. This is the best way to learn how to make your home more energy efficient.
Do Energy Efficient Light Bulbs Really Save You Money?
One of easiest and most cost-effective ways to cut your energy bills is by replacing your traditional incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient versions, and there are a couple of different options you can choose from:
- Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs)
- Light emitting diodes (LEDs)
But do energy efficient light bulbs really save you money? In general, these alternatives use 25 – 80% less energy and last up to 10 times longer than the traditional incandescent bulb. While the initial cost for energy efficient bulbs is higher, you save money over the course of the life of the bulb, which lasts significantly longer than its conventional equivalent.
To demonstrate how much you can save by switching to energy efficient light bulbs, the table below compares a 60-watt traditional incandescent light bulb against energy efficient ones that provide similar levels of light. The statistics regarding cost are based on the following conditions:
- 2 hours a day of usage
- Electricity rate of 11 cents per kilowatt-hour
To learn more about the advantages of energy efficient lighting fixtures and bulbs, talk to a certified RESNET Home Energy Professional.
How Energy Efficient Are ENERGY STAR® Appliances?
In a typical American household, appliances account for 21 – 25% of the utility bill. One way to reduce this cost is by replacing older appliances with energy efficient ENERGY STAR models. How energy efficient are ENERGY STAR appliances? Here are some examples:
1. ENERGY STAR Qualified Dishwasher
- Costs less than $35 a year to run.
- 5% more energy efficient than a non-qualified model.
- Saves 15% more water than a non-qualified model.
2. ENERGY STAR Qualified Refrigerator
- 20% more energy efficient than a model that meets the minimum federal energy efficiency standard.
- Can potentially cut energy bills by more than $125 over the lifetime of the fridge.
3. ENERGY STAR Qualified Freezer
- 10% more energy efficient than a model that meets the minimum federal energy efficiency standard.
4. ENERGY STAR Qualified Clothes Washer
- On average uses 270 KWh of electricity and costs $85 a year to run (compared to $225 for a 10+ year-old washer).
- Uses 35% less water and 20% less energy than a non-qualified model.
- Can save up to 27,000 gallons of water over the lifetime of the machine.
5. ENERGY STAR Qualified Dehumidifier
- Uses 15% less energy to remove the same amount of moisture as a similarly sized conventional unit.
- Saves consumers more than $150 over the course of its lifetime.
- Amount of energy saved by an ENERGY STAR qualified dehumidifier could power an ENERGY STAR qualified refrigerator for 4 months.
6. ENERGY STAR Air Purifiers
- 40% more energy efficient than a non-qualified model.
- Saves consumers around 230 kWh and $25 annually on utility bills.
- Could save consumers up to $200 over the lifetime of the machine.
If for a period of one year all the appliances bought in the U.S. were ENERGY STAR qualified, it would prevent annual greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to that of 420,000 vehicles, conserve 25 billion gallons of water, and save nearly $580 million in energy costs. To learn more about energy efficient appliances, talk to a RESNET Qualified EnergySmart Contractor.
Choosing the Right Power Strip
The modern home is packed with electronics. From TVs to DVD players and gaming consoles, these gadgets, which are so much a part of our lives, also cost us money in terms of energy consumption. In fact, they can add up to nearly 10% of a home’s monthly electricity bill. One of the reasons for this is that many of these products aren’t actually turned off when not in use; instead, they’re on standby, which means they’re still drawing power. They become what are known as “energy vampires”. An advanced power strip can solve this problem, but choosing the right power strip is key to maximizing energy savings.
Similar to conventional power strips, APS are designed primarily to deal with home entertainment areas and home offices. They prevent electronics from drawing power when not being used. APS come in a variety of types to suit different requirements.
1. Timer Power Strip
- Automatically turns off outlets based on a pre-set schedule.
- Look for a digital or dial timer.
2. Activity Monitor Power Strip
- Scans for movement in the room and turns off outlets if there is none.
- Look for a motion sensor or infrared eye.
3. Remote Switch Power Strip
- Can be turned off with a remote switch.
- Look for a tethered or remote switch.
4. Master Controlled Power Strip
- When the user turns off the primary device (i.e., TV), the power strip automatically shuts down connected devices (i.e., game console, DVD player, etc.).
- Look for one outlet labeled as “master”.
5. Masterless Power Strip
- Will cut power to all outlets where plugged in devices have been turned off, thereby eliminating vampire loads.
- Shouldn’t have a “master” outlet; may have “automatic switching” or “power detection” label.
In addition to using an APS to control your electronics, look for ENERGY STAR qualified devices when buying. ENERGY STAR qualified devices are designed to save energy without sacrificing features or functionality. For a range of energy-saving tips and advice, visit the RESNET Smart Home.