Energy Efficiency 101: Increased Sustainability in the Home

Sustainable energy has been defined as a way in which humans use energy to, “meet the needs of the present

Sustainable energy has been defined as a way in which humans use energy to, “meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” In other words, energy sustainability is about the big picture of energy consumption. Not big picture as in 5 years, while 5 years is important . . . think 50 years. Or 500.

There are two primary pillars to sustainable energy habits. The first is better methods for clean energy. This includes things like using solar energy or wind energy. The second is energy conservation. The costs of using sustainable energy have decreased substantially over the last decade with very promising advances soon to come. Whether it is residential solar, utility bill management, or microgrids, there are a number of ways to have clean and sustainable energy in every home. This is especially true when you know what to know about energy deregulation.

Here are some of the best ways homeowners can take responsibility for their own energy footprint, and save some money along the way. For example, simply switching to energy efficient appliances saves the average household $500 or more each year on utility bills. Energy sustainability is important — and it starts with you.

Optimizing Homes for Energy Sustainability

Get Energy Efficient Light Bulbs: Most homes have incandescent light bulbs that consume large amounts of energy and must be replaced frequently. Upgrading to halogen bulbs, CFLs, and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) can reduce the electrical needs of lighting by 30-80%! Additionally, these bulbs all last significantly longer than traditional light bulbs. This is a no brainer that saves you money from the very first day. Energy efficient light bulbs are slightly more expensive off the shelf, however, they have a significantly longer lifespan, meaning over the course of a year you save 10x on your money spent.

Upgrade to Smart Power Strips: Just because something is “turned off” doesn’t mean it isn’t using electricity. Just having a computer or even a phone charger plugged in will consume electricity. This is a major source of wasted energy. It is estimated that almost 75% of the energy used to power household electronics is consumed while the electronics are turned off, costing around $200 per year. Smart power strips eliminate this problem by shutting off power to electronics that are not in use. These strips can also be set on a timer to turn on and off at assigned times, or simply during times of inactivity.

Get a Smart Thermostat: Smart thermostats can be set to automatically turn on and off, reducing the heating or cooling during times when people are asleep or away from the home. This eliminates a massive amount of wasted energy that is used by heating or cooling a home when nobody is around. Additionally, this means you don’t have to be bundled up in your sweats all winter inside a cold house. Because of how much energy you are saving by not running the system while you are at work or asleep, you can easily enjoy the comforts of a properly warmed home in the winter and cooled home in the summer. You can even program the thermostat to turn on five or ten minutes before you arrive home to make sure it is the right temperature just before you arrive. These thermostats end up saving almost $200 per year on electric bills.

Energy Efficient Appliances: Let’s face it, most kitchen appliances last a very long time. In fact, some homes are still sporting microwaves and refrigerators from the ’70s! This means you’re spending more money than you should by powering older, inefficient appliances. In fact, it’s estimated that a new fridge will cost half as much today and uses up to 75% less energy than those older models. So, even if that super old fridge is still running, it would be a good idea to replace it. Look for the Energy Star label on new appliances. This label is a federal guarantee that the appliance will use less energy than standard models. For example, an Energy Star clothes washer consumes 25% less energy and 45% less water than a conventional one. That is a LOT of savings and a great way to promote energy sustainability.

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