Energy is an essential part of our everyday functions. Just as we need breakfast, lunch, and dinner to keep giving us energy throughout the day, our homes require constant energy to run the air/heat systems, keep the refrigerator cold, and make sure the T.V. never goes off. It’s not a surprise to know that such a big thing requires an enormous amount of energy, but have you ever actually performed a home energy audit to figure out just how much your home is using? Home energy audits are kind of like counting calories: if anything else, it makes you aware of how much you’re using. The right kinds of changes can be made after you see how and where your energy is being used.
Taking a Look at Your Energy Bill
It’s not a simple task, but it’s really not the hardest either. The meter readers come around all the time to get a reading on the amounts of electricity your home uses in a month, and then they flip you a bill that shows that number. If you’ve been keeping all of your bill statements, go ahead and gather them all up and start looking at the numbers. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports the average monthly kilowatt-hours (kWh) per residence is 903. If you’re a little over, you’re not necessarily doing too badly, but it does mean you can be doing better.
For a good measure on electricity usage, consider that a 100-watt light bulb burning for 10 hours takes up 1 kWh. Light bulbs are pretty much the lowest energy guzzler in a home, in comparison to bigger appliances. When it comes down to understanding where most of your electric bill is coming from, look to the big guys—the fridge, the stove, the washer and dryer, the water heater, and so forth. It’s going to be difficult to determine exactly how much energy your appliances use—unless you’ve been keeping the user manuals—but a good determination is age. If your appliances are older, then chances are they are using a lot more energy than necessary; newer, modern appliances usually come with the Energy Star seal and use dramatically less energy. If your energy bills are sky-high, it’s probably due to old appliances. This is a good time to figure out whether or not purchasing a new appliance would be smarter for you in the long run.
Nearly half of every energy bill is going to heating and cooling costs. What a lot of folks don’t realize is that number is a lot higher than it needs to be. Sure, heating and cooling units are expensive, but when you’re already putting an average of $1,000 a year towards them, you may want to start thinking about upgrading a newer model. Newer models will run a lot more efficiently, and they will circulate cleaner air throughout your home than older models. Okay, this isn’t always possible and in most cases, you’re going to want to look at how you can lower your energy bill immediately. A good place to start is with your air filter—if it hasn’t been changed out in a long time, then you should do that right away. Dirty filters make it harder for HVAC units to push air through, causing them to work harder, which in turn ramps up your energy costs. It’s a good measure to stay consistent with your air filters and changing them every three months or so.