Does Your House Gobble Energy?


Save money by saving energy

By FamilyTime

 

Instead of worrying about your high electric, gas and oil bills, determine to lower their amounts. Not only will you save money, but you’ll help the planet at the same time.

Without doubt, heating and cooling our homes accounts for most of our energy use. Efficient furnaces and air conditioners go a long way to cutting energy consumption, as do costly improvements such as insulating attics and replacing windows.

Most of us know about replacing incandescent light bulbs with CFLs. We have lowered the temperature of the water in our hot water heaters to 120ºF. or lower, and often wash our sheets and clothes in cold water. We may have installed a programmable thermostat and determined which direction our ceiling fans should rotate in cold or hot weather.

What else can we do?

Identify the energy gobblers in the house and take even more action to stem their appetites.

Common Culprits

Refrigerators are still major energy hogs in most households, particularly older models. Even new, efficient fridges demand a lot of power. For example, a frost-free model with 16 cubic feet draws a maximum of 725 watts. Stand-alone freezers are high on the list, too.

A flat-screen TV might draw 120 watts. New televisions are far more efficient than older models, but as the screens get larger, the energy savings rapidly diminish.

Other screens demand energy, too. Desk top computers will draw 120 watts when fully awake, although when put into standby or sleep mode, use 30 watts or less. Laptops use less energy overall than desk tops — about 50 watts — so if you are planning to replace your current PC, consider buying a more efficient laptop.

Vampires

You’ve probably heard the term “energy vampire” or perhaps “phantom power” but might not fully understand what it is — or you might decide it's not worth it to deal with items that fall into this category.

An energy vampire or phantom is any electric appliance or gadget that even when turned “off” continues to suck up energy if plugged into a wall socket. These electronics are designed to remain in standby mode so that they will turn on in a fraction of a second — but the price for this luxury is high.

For example, your toaster might demand as much as 1,400 watts of energy when crisping up an English muffin but who cares? It’s only in use for a few minutes a day, right? And yet, if you leave it plugged in, it will continue to draw a few watts.

And so will your microwave, your computer, your printer, your television and its set-top box (for cable or satellite), the game consul, cell phone chargers, and so on. By many estimates, these vampires consume up to five percent of the country’s energy resources.

The best way to deal with this is to unplug the appliances when not in use, or to plug them into a power strip that can be easily turned on and off.

This can be annoying, no question about it. For example, you might rely on the microwave's digital clock, and so deciding to deal with that particular energy vampire comes down to making a smart choice. A microwave sucks up as much as 1,100 watts when in use, and a percentage of that when in standby mode. You might decide a stand-alone clock in the kitchen is more practical (a clock radio uses 10 watts of energy; a battery-operated one uses none). You can make similar choices for other electronics.

Other Solutions

To reign in your overall energy consumption, encourage your kids to turn off lights when they leave a room. Don’t leave TVs blaring as “background” noise. Be sure your refrigerator’s seals are tight and remind family members to open and close its doors quickly and infrequently.

Other ways to save energy (and money) include limiting the length of showers (especially necessary if you have teenagers!), lining windows with removable weather stripping, and switching to an LCD computer monitor. These are about 65 percent more efficient than older monitors.

For small rooms or areas that never seem to get warm enough, use small space heaters when you’re in the rooms. Make sure to purchase safe heaters with thermostats and then monitor their use, particularly around pets and children. The same goes for efficient fans in warm weather, which can augment the a/c without adjusting its thermostat.

Finally, whenever you buy a new appliance or piece of electronic equipment, make sure it meets the Energy Star requirements set by the EPA. Any or all of these suggestions, plus others you may have already taken or plan to take, will save you money in the long run. Nothing wrong with that!