Tips on how to make your home run more efficiently
Our homes are big consumers of energy, and the less efficiently they run, the more money we end up paying. Here are some of the ways your home may be wasting energy, with quick fixes and long-term solutions to lower your energy bills.
Phantom or standby loads: Our homes are filled with gadgets that are constantly drawing a small amount of electricity even when we’re not using them. This includes everything that can be turned on with a remote control or that displays the time. The sheer volume of devices running 24 hours a day adds up to a lot of wasted energy.
- Quick fix: For lower energy bills, unplug appliances you don't use often, or invest in a power cord with an off switch. Be sensible about what devices you unplug. The flashing clock on your microwave is a bit annoying but you can live with it; having to reset all your channels every time you use your TV is probably too much hassle.
- Long-term solution: Consider getting rid of gadgets you don't use anymore, like VCRs or old gaming systems. Make sure any new devices you buy can multi-task, such as a computer that plays DVDs or has a TV card, or is certified to draw a low phantom load.
Inefficient appliances: Whether through age or design, older appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, water heaters and furnaces are energy hogs compared to newer models.
- Quick fix: Set them on the most energy efficient settings or use them less. Hang clothes to dry, or turn off the drying mode for the dishwasher. Keeping your fridge and freezer filled with food also helps it to use less energy.
- Long-term solution: Appliances are not cheap, so it doesn't make financial sense to replace them for a lower energy bill. However, when they reach the end of their life cycles, look for the most efficient appliances that meet your needs.
Drafts: A poorly insulated home uses more energy because the furnace and air conditioner have to work harder to replace all the lost heat or cooled air.
- Quick fix: Wall-covering curtains add a bit of insulation. Use caulking or honeycomb blinds to reduce the drafts around windows and doors. Instead of jacking up the heat, handle cooler temperatures by wearing sweaters and long pants.
- Long-term solution: No one wants to live in an icebox. So to make your home more comfortable and lower your energy bill, talk to a contractor about adding better insulation, and consider investing in new windows and doors.
New technology: Our homes now have many more electronic devices such as computers. And our new TVs are much bigger, which ramps up their electrical usage.
- Quick fix: Get out of the habit of having your TV or computer running in the background all the time. If you're not using it, turn it off.
- Long-term solution: Consider energy use when replacing high-tech appliances. Plasma screen TVs often use two to three times as much energy as LCD screens.
What's next? 10 ways to save money