Everyone knows that old appliances can be real energy drainers, but few people realize that newer appliances and gadgets can also strain an energy budget.
All household appliances use different amounts of energy, depending on their efficiency and how they are used. Other factors that determine energy use include where the appliance is located and what energy conservation methods are used.
Because energy bills for various appliances will vary greatly depending on where you live and how much your utility company charges for energy, the per-dollar impact on your budget will vary. However, there are many steps you can take to reduce energy costs each month. Keep reading to learn which appliances can strain the budget and how to lessen their impacts.
These necessary appliances have long been touted as the ones that use the most energy in your home. Because they must be operated constantly, they use energy around the clock. However, newer, energy-saving models have greatly reduced the impact these appliances have on the family budget. Older models bought before 1985 use about 100 kilowatt-hours per month. Newer models manufactured after 2000 us approximately 37 kilowatt-hours every month, which is nearly one-third the amount of energy.
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Where you place your refrigerator or freezer also impacts how efficiently it performs. A fridge or freezer in a hot garage will need more energy to keep your food cool than one located inside a climate-controlled home. For this reason, it is also best to design your kitchen so that the fridge is not located next to the oven or stove. Buy the smallest refrigerator and freezer that fits your family’s needs, as larger ones use more energy to operate.
Most people welcome moderate weather because air conditioners and furnaces cause such a deep impact on the budget. Whether you have a whole-house system or rely on window units and space heaters, most of us end up paying a lot of money for comfort every summer and winter. However, central air conditioning is generally the biggest annual energy outflow, especially for those living in warmer climates.
You can reduce the impact of your air conditioning needs by supplementing central air-conditioning with smaller cooling units in certain rooms. It is cheaper to run small units than to cool the entire house. Using ceiling fans and smaller, personal fans help to circulate cool air and provide a cooler feeling on your skin. They use relatively little electricity compared to a/c units.
In the wintertime, cut your heating bill the same way. Make use of space heaters in your main living areas, and close vents and doors in rooms you rarely use. Ceiling fans have a switch at their base to reverse the blades’ direction. This helps circulate warm air without causing a cooling effect. Consider using existing fireplaces or wood-burning stoves to provide warmth without incurring additional energy costs. However, be cautious when using space heaters, as they are one of the appliances that can cause house fires .
Front-loading washers use less water than top-loading appliances, but the electricity bill to operate them are about the same. As with refrigerators and freezers, older appliances cause more of an energy drain than newer, more efficient models. The main way to save money getting your clothes clean is to only wash and dry full loads. Even though washing machines have settings for small loads, energy costs to wash a small load are nearly equal to washing a bigger load.
If your homeowners’ association or apartment complex allows it, then using a clothesline or a portable drying rack outdoors can save the cost of using an electric or natural gas dryer. Even if you are not allowed to use exterior drying racks, you can set one up inside the home to save a bit on energy costs.
Because we keep most small appliances plugged in around the clock, they can add a significant amount to a family’s annual energy costs. Each appliance only uses a small amount of electricity each day, but it adds up over time. This type of energy drain is multiplied by the number of appliances you keep connected in your home. You may want your microwave ovens, coffee makers and other appliances with clocks and timers plugged in all day, but other small appliances can be unplugged with no loss of function. Many European countries’ electric outlets have switches built in, to turn off when an appliance is not being used. You can mimic this function in the United States by plugging your appliances into power strips and flipping the switch off when not in use. Likewise, you can use home automation gadgets to select when items should be on or off through the day,
Even when they appear to be off, your TV and cable box or satellite receiver use a good deal of energy sitting idle, waiting for your next command. As with all appliances, newer models tend to be more energy-efficient than older ones. But modern electronics never really “turn off” unless they are unplugged from their power source, as they simply enter a standby mode which uses nearly the same amount of energy as when they are in use.
Power strips not only provide an easy way to switch off your electronics at night. They also help keep these expensive items safe from power surges, lightning strikes and other damaging electrical problems. Make it a habit to flip the power strip switch off before bed each night to keep them from using energy constantly.
Computers and gaming systems impact the electric bill much like televisions and cable boxes, and because most homes have multiple units, the idle energy costs can really add up over the course of a year. If you do not need an expansive desktop computer set-up, such as for video editing or other jobs, then consider switching to a laptop. The annual cost of operating a laptop is about one-third the cost of keeping a desktop computer up and running. Note that screen savers do not save any energy, but making use of your “sleep mode” feature can save a few dollars annually. It bears repeating, your best bet for energy savings is to unplug any electronic devices that are not in active use.
We all have phones, tablets, laptops and other portable gadgets that require frequent charging to stay alive. However, charging blocks draw small amounts of energy when plugged into the wall, whether your gadget is attached to the other end of the cord or not. If you prefer to keep your charging cords all in one location, then at least plug them into a power strip that can be turned off when not in use. Just do not forget to turn it back on when you need a charge.
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