When you get your monthly electric bill, there can sometimes be a little sticker shock when you see how much all the appliance usage can add up to. And with increasing energy costs and environmental concerns pushed to the front burner, many homeowners are looking for ways to lower their usage.
Over the last decade or so, energy-efficient options have become widely available for everything from washing machines to light bulbs and furnaces. Manufacturers understand the needs of consumers, and they’re embracing newer technologies to lower energy consumption. But how many old appliances are still hanging around your home and drawing excessive electricity?
Common Culprits of High Electric Usage
Take a look around your home and evaluate these common appliances based on the age of the model, its energy-efficiency ratings, and its use in your home. Keep in mind, even when you don’t frequently use an appliance, it will still draw power when plugged into a circuit. Speaking with a licensed electrician can help determine what appliances are hogs in your home.
One homeowner in a small rural midwestern farming town had an old standup freezer unit from the 1940s that had made it into the 2000s. After their kids and grandkids had grown and moved out, they simply no longer needed that old freezer. They took it to a local recycling center, and the following month when they received their electric bill, they couldn’t believe their eyes. It was a full $100 less than their average monthly bill. The next month, the same thing happened. As this pattern continued, they were forced to acknowledge that their dated freezer had been costing them more than $100 per month or $1200 per year as an energy hog in their home.
Common High Electric Usage Appliances:
- Heating and Air Conditioning Systems
- Water Heaters
- Electric Stove/Ovens
- Washing Machines/Dryers
- Lighting Fixtures
- Ceiling Fans
- Electronics (Computers, TVs, Video Games)
- Swimming Pools/Hot Tubs
Tips for Reducing Energy Usage
Nearly 46% of your home’s energy consumption comes from heating and cooling systems. Most HVAC systems run two or three times per hour, around the clock. You can reduce your energy consumption by staying on top of routine maintenance and upgrading older models. Other ways to reduce the load that your HVAC system carries are by installing ceiling fans, adjusting your thermostat temperature, and taking a good look at your windows, siding, and doors for energy loss.
Your water heater is another significant source of energy consumption, using up to 14% of your total expenditure. Aside from upgrading to an energy-efficient or solar-powered model, your best bet is to add insulation to your water heater and pipes. Your other household appliances like the refrigerator and electric stove use a similar amount of electricity. Try these tips:
- Wash full loads, but don’t overfill your dishwasher, washing machine, or other appliances.
- Choose smaller appliances and ENERGY STAR-rated models.
- Unplug smaller appliances that are not regularly used.
- Don’t use standby or sleep modes on electronics.
- Use LED light bulbs and natural light when possible.
- Install motion detectors for outside lights and timers for holiday lights.
- Practice good habits like turning lights off when you leave a room and the water off while brushing your teeth.
Small Changes Add Up to Big Savings
Homeowners may not realize that they have an energy vampire in their home. After all, you’ve probably been paying a similarly-priced power bill for months or years. And maybe it has gradually increased over time, but rates go up, and there is a lot more technology in our homes today than there was ten years ago. So, these increases are easily explained away.
Chances are, the average homeowner can benefit from modest changes like turning the temperature down on the water heater or thermostat and shave $20 per month off their utility bill. Homeowners that want to get serious about lowering their energy bill can upgrade that water heater to a tankless system and take $70 or $80 off per year. And if you’re all in─updating your entire home to a solar energy system could actually put you in a positive energy state where the electric company pays you for the power you provide to the grid. Of course, this is rare and depends on where you live and how your system is designed, but it’s possible.
Bobby Lynn, the owner of Livewire Electrical, is a fully licensed electrician in Charlotte, NC. Bobby is insured for both residential and commercial electrical projects and has over 20 years of experience in the industry.