Did your last electricity bill catch you by surprise? What you might find even more surprising is just how many of those extra dollars may have leaked out of your home.
On average, Americans waste more energy than they use, according to government sources. Part of the problem is there are so many kinds of energy leaks in a typical home — some of them in places you never would have guessed. Identifying these leaks and taking steps to reduce or eliminate them will help you tighten your utility spending, without necessarily changing your lifestyle. Doing so is guaranteed to save you money, and create a greener lifestyle to boot.
Wondering where your biggest energy leaks are hidden? Here are a few beyond-the-obvious places to look:
- Your TV receiver. Do you subscribe to cable or satellite service? Bet you didn’t know that little box connecting your cable/dish to your entertainment system consumes more power than your big screen TV. A lot more, according to a study by the NRDC. The problem is most models use nearly as much power when it’s not in use than when it is in use. You can reduce the damage by replacing your old receiver with an ENERGY STAR-rated model.
- Your furnace fan. If you have a forced air HVAC system, heads up — your furnace fan could be a huge energy waster. In an average household, the furnace fan alone accounts for nearly 10 percent of all electricity used. New efficiency standards are planned for furnace fans that will result in about 40 percent energy savings for new models. These standards won’t be required until 2019, but some manufacturers are already offering efficient models … so why wait to reap the benefits?
- Your cell phone. True, it doesn’t take much power to charge a smartphone. It probably won’t make a big difference to your utility bill if you use yours a lot. But if you care about the planet, you should know that all the data you’re using adds up to a lot of power. In fact, a study by the Digital Power Group estimates that streaming just an hour of video per week on your phone burns more electricity than two ENERGY STAR refrigerators! Of course, we all need our phones, but why not be mindful of how we use them?
- Your laundry. Did you know that if your washing machine is over 10 years old, it is probably costing you $180 per year in wasted electricity? That’s how much more efficient the new ENERGY STAR-certified washers are. Same with your dryer. A new ENERGY STAR clothes dryer uses 20 percent less energy than conventional models —even new ones!
- Exposed plumbing. Got naked hot water pipes? That’s a case of indecent exposure! It’s probably not the biggest energy leak in your home, but it’s an easy DIY fix that will pay for itself in a year or so. (While you’re at it, take a look at your water heater. If it’s 10 years old or more, you will likely need a replacement soon. If so, you should know that replacing it with an ENERGY STAR model will save you up to 50 percent of your water heating costs.)
The average American pays for lot of energy they never use, but there’s no reason this has to be true for you. Are any of these energy-wasting “surprises” lurking in your home? Taking care of them will not only save you money, but you’ll feel better knowing you’re above average when it comes to being green!