What are the Biggest Home Energy Drains?

Monday, December 15th, 2014 by Danny Peterson

Looking to reduce the amount of money you spend on your monthly utility bills? Well, who isn’t! That’s a common desire among homeowners everywhere, but it’s easier said than done. Before you can start saving cash, you have to start saving energy; and to save energy, you have to figure out where you’re wasting it! All of us waste energy, even those of us who try our best to be green—to turn off the lights when we’re not in the room, to keep the thermostat set at a reasonable temperature, and so on. Knowing how and where your home uses the most energy—perhaps needlessly—is a good place to begin your campaign to save on energy bills.

Climate Control is the Biggest Culprit

As you can probably imagine, the biggest source of energy use, for the overwhelming majority of homeowners, is in temperature control—heating and air conditioning, just depending on the season. In fact, studies show that heating/air conditioning accounts for more than 40 percent of all home energy use, but it’s possible to reduce bills by 10 percent just by following a few simple strategies:

  • Make sure you don’t have any air leaks or drafts. Check around doors and windows, in particular, and use caulk or weather stripping to make sure you’re home envelope is secure.
  • An unexpected place to lose energy is outlets and light switches; applying some insulation here can make a significant difference.
  • Simply turning down the thermostat is always effective, of course; every degree you turn it down, in the winter months, can translate into big bucks on your energy bills.

 Lighting is the Next in Line

Beyond heating and air conditioning, what do you think is the biggest source of home energy use? For most homeowners, it’s lighting. This might surprise you—we don’t necessarily think of lighting as a huge energy drain—but actually, the lights in your home account for about 20 percent of your monthly energy bill. There are really only a couple of ways to curb this cost. The first is to switch to CFL bulbs. Beyond that, we’d recommend simply this: Turn ‘em off when you’re not in the room!

Other Big Energy Drains

Of course, there are plenty of other common energy drains—some of which might surprise you:

  • Do you have an old dishwasher? If it was installed before 1994, then upgrading to an Energy Star dishwasher can actually save you around $30 a year on utility bills—not a huge amount, but something!
  • Hot water heaters eat up a lot of your home energy. Replacing yours and getting a tankless one will lead to noticeable energy savings in the long run, though the initial cost of the unit will be somewhat steep. On the other hand, simply investing in some insulation for your water heater tank can lead to some small but discernible energy savings.
  • Any appliance or electronic device that you have on standby mode is sucking energy, even though the item is not really in use. Walk through your house tonight before bed and count how many little red or green lights you see. Each of those items is using electricity, and could be adding anywhere from 5 to 30 percent to your monthly utility bills! Unplugging some of these items may make a big impact on your utility expenses.

How well do you know your home energy use, then? Know it a little better and you could find some ways to save money on your next utility bill!