Utilities. Everyone uses them, and everyone pays. But do you ever wonder what electricity costs you’re paying for — especially on those months where your utility bill seems unusually high? No one likes surprises when it comes to their bills. Fixed monthly expenses can directly impact discretionary spending — so energy conservation can actually help you achieve more financial freedom.
EnergyCloud by Blue Line Innovations takes the surprise out of monthly bills by helping people understand their electricity bill. EnergyCloud, our home energy monitor tracks energy usage for you with real-time information that breaks out electricity costs and helps identify big energy wasters with its easy-to-understand app.
Why do we do this? Because knowing where your electricity dollars are going is powerful. Once you’re able to identify the items or behaviors that are driving up your electricity bill, you can find ways to fix it. You can even get started saving electricity today with these top energy wasters. We’ve detailed easy fixes that will help you improve your home’s energy efficiency — and lower your energy bills.
According to research, up to 47 percent of utility costs are for heating and cooling. While new, high-efficiency systems can cut costs by up to 20 percent, they are a big-ticket item. Since furnaces and air conditioners can last up to 10-15 years, buying a new unit might not be a top priority. But that doesn’t mean you can’t improve their overall performance.
Keep your furnace and air conditioning units running smoothly with regular service by certified professionals. Keeping the furnace clean and regularly changing its filter will help it run efficiently.
Leaks are also a drain on efficiency. Ductwork should be regularly inspected to ensure there are no leaks. Seals around doors and windows are another problem area. Remember to periodically check windows and doors to ensure the air you’re spending money to heat or cool isn’t escaping. You can also consider adding a smart home thermostat to help you better adjust temperatures—even small adjustments can lead to significant savings.
Water heaters account for about 14 percent of household energy costs. Again, high-efficiency units will save you money, but they do come with high upfront costs. For top-of-the-line, consider tankless or on-demand water heaters which can be up to 30 percent more efficient, depending on your water consumption. Not in the market just yet? You can still help improve efficiency by setting your temperature lower and insulating the tank and hot water lines. It’s also recommended that you flush the tank yearly to get rid of any sediment in the bottom.
Washer & Dryer
Laundry also has a significant impact on your monthly electricity bill, running about the same as a water heater in terms of energy use. While there are high-efficiency washers available, it’s important to also think about when you are running your machine. EnergyCloud, the whole house electricity usage monitor, can pinpoint the best time to do laundry in order to take advantage of off-peak hours—usually during the evenings or weekends. Regular maintenance it also important, such as making sure you keep the lint trap and hoses clean. Of course, using cold water and line-drying your clothes is also a great way to save electricity.
For bright, long-lasting lights nothing beats the new LED bulbs. Once quite expensive and hard to find, they are now mainstream. We like them because they last longer and can save as much as 75-80 percent over a traditional 60W bulb.
LED lights have a few advantages over Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) as well. For example, CFLs take a long time to get to full strength, whereas LEDs light up bright right away. LED lights can also be placed on dimmers switches, and don’t contain mercury which the CFLs do, making disposal an issue.
Beware the Phantom Power: Also called standby power, phantom power is the energy your appliances and devices draw even when they are off. Think of your TV, cable box and videogame consoles. Standby power lets these devices switch on quickly, but they also syphon power — along with any device connected to your power supply. Some estimates suggest it could account for up to 23 percent of home energy use.
Home energy monitors like EnergyCloud can help identify the worst culprits so you can take action. The best way to deal with phantom power is to unplug appliances and devices when they aren’t being used. Consider power bars so you can conveniently switch off what you don’t need. Power bars with surge protection are always a good investment, especially for expensive electronics. However, newer features such as timers or remotes are also available, and a lot easier to use if your plugs are behind a heavy desk or TV stand.
Now is a great time to take on your home’s top energy wasters. With a little work, you can help make your home more energy efficient — and reduce electricity bills.