While turning off the lights when you’re leaving the room and using energy efficient fluorescent light bulbs may help lower the cost of energy bills, it hardly saves anything in your monthly energy bill. Due to higher fuel and energy costs, the average household will spend $2,350 on electricity and gas this year, up from $2,100 in 2007, according to the Alliance to Save Energy.
In order to make these bills more manageable and to cut down on the impacts of vampire energy, try going after the five biggest energy guzzlers in the home. Here are the five worst appliances and how to lower their costs:
1. HVAC System:
Your home’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system is probably the home’s worst offender, says Maria Vargas, a spokeswoman for the government’s Energy Star Program. This should come as no surprise, seeing as most households use some sort of climate control nearly 24 hours a day, seven days a week throughout both the hottest and coldest parts of the year. In reality, heating and cooling account for 50% of the average household’s annual energy bill.
How to cut your bill: Try programming the thermostat so that the HVAC system doesn’t work so hard while you are at work or asleep. By reducing the temperature by just two degrees during the winter or adjusting the air-conditioner two degrees higher during the summer, Energy Star estimates you’ll save $180 annually.
2. Water Heater:
The water heather works around the clock to provide enough hot water for showers, laundry, and dishes, among other things. The water heater represents nearly 13% –the second-biggest amount—of your annual energy bill.
How to cut your bill: By dialing down the heater’s temperature to 120 degrees from the standard 140 degrees, you’ll reduce your annual bill by 6% to 10%. You can also opt to wash your clothing in cold water only, which can cut the energy bill by $73 a year, while keeping clothing just as clean.
The refrigerator runs at all hours of the day. It periodically cycles up to draw maximum watts and keep the temperature consistent. Each time the refrigerator door is opened for an extended period of time, the appliance must work harder to maintain the desired temperature. The fridge accounts for 5% of the annual energy bill. Using an ancient, inefficient model for spare food storage in the garage or basement, then you can expect to pay twice that amount.
How to cut your bill: Keep your machine clean. A refrigerator cycles on less frequently if the coils beneath and behind the unit remain clean and dust free. Also, by keeping the fridge at a moderate temperature (36-38 degrees, not lower), the refrigerator won’t have to use so much energy. You should regularly defrost the freezer to eliminate ice buildup on the interior coils. If you’ve got a second refrigerator that’s been around for more than a decade, you should look into recycling it. One bigger fridge is more efficient than two smaller ones.
4. Clothes dryer
Here’s an indication on how inefficient a clothes dryer really is: “A dryer can’t earn the Energy Star label right now,” says Vargas. While it’s unknown what makes an appliance more or less efficient than another, one thing is certain: they’re all energy hogs. Clothes washers and dryers collectively account for 6% of the annual energy bill, with the bulk of that coming from the dryer.
How to cut your bill: Spend money on the most energy-efficient clothes washer you can afford, which will wring out more water from your clothes, cutting the drying time in half. If you can’t afford a new major appliance, be sure to use your dryer’s moisture sensor settings. Also, consider hang drying your clothes to virtually eliminate the cost of using a dryer.
While using the dishwasher may be more efficient than hand-scrubbing dishes, it comes with a heavy convenience fee. Dishwasher use accounts for 2% of our annual energy bill.
How to cut your bill: If you must use the dishwasher, make sure to run the dishwasher only when it is full. Try letting the dishes air dry instead of using the drying feature, which doubles the appliance’s power draw.