Creating a cozy hearth for the family
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From the dishwasher that keeps your coffee cups clean to your HVAC system that heats and cools your home, you spend a pretty penny each month on these appliances. To lower your energy use, as well as your monthly bill, it’s important to identify which devices are guzzling the most juice. Once you know where most of your power goes, you can start taking steps to reduce it and your carbon footprint. Consider the following:
Refrigerators: Cool but Power-Hungry
Your fridge is the biggest energy-sucker in the kitchen, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Because some refrigerators are decades old, the energy usage varies from about 30 to 200 kilowatt-hour (kWh) per month. Regardless of how old your refrigerator is, you can take steps to reduce the power it uses.
First, check your unit to see if it has a power-saver switch; if you find one, turn it off. Second, see what temperature the thermostat is set to; a fridge doesn’t have to be any cooler than 36 to 38 degrees to keep your food and drinks cold. If you notice that some of your food is frozen in spots, it’s time to raise the thermostat. If your unit has a lot of frost on it, defrost it; more than a quarter-inch of buildup will make it use even more power. Be sure to keep your food and drinks organized so you can get in and out fast without letting too much cool air escape.
Air Conditioning: Energy-Guzzler Extraordinaire
Yes, air conditioning is a blessing in the summer, but you pay a price for this comfort in the form of mega-high energy bills. A window A/C unit will uses 200 to 650 kWh per month while a heat pump uses 600 to 1,800 kWh, the DOE reports.
To make sure your A/C is running as efficiently as possible, schedule an annual checkup by a professional. Also, change your filters monthly; mark the date on your calendar and keep a stack of them on hand. Closing up the vents in rooms that you rarely use will also help use less energy, as will installing thermostats with timers. If you have an attic, be sure it is thoroughly insulated. Most pros recommend at least 16 inches of insulation to keep your home cool.
Swimming Pool: Myriad of Energy Users
If you have an in-ground pool, it can guzzle up energy from a variety of sources. Start by setting the pool’s heater a few degrees cooler; this can save you hundreds of dollars a year. In addition, be sure the pool pump is properly and regularly maintained — if it is leaking, you could be wasting dozens of gallons of water. If your pump is older, consider replacing it with an energy-efficient model, which can save you up to 90 percent on your electric bill by running at lower speeds.
Switching from a regular pool light to an LED model will reduce the light’s energy use by 75 to 80 percent. To take advantage of any or all of these suggestions, find a retailer who carries these items, along with additional energy-saving products like a pool timer that will automatically run the pump when energy companies charge less for power, and/or pool covers that help maintain the temperature and reduce the need for a heater.
Alison Stanton has been a freelance writer for the past 15 years. She enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics, and always looks for opportunities to learn about new subjects.