“Optimizing home energy efficiency requires a whole-house systems approach”
It’s important to remember that energy and water usage is driven by many factors. The U.S. Department of Energy states that “optimizing home energy efficiency requires a whole-house systems approach to ensure that you and your team of building professionals consider all the variables, details and interactions that affect energy use in your home”. Things like thermostat set points, water consumption, lighting use, quality of construction and size, design and location of the unit are just some of the major factors that influence energy consumption. Key components such as insulation, windows, doors and toilets along with the age and efficiency of major appliances play a big role in the efficiency of your home. All of these variables affect total electric and water consumption each month.
At NEP, we strive to educate and share the facts about energy consumption. We certainly understand that as tenants you don’t control decisions around building construction or appliances, but while occupant behavior alone does not determine energy and water consumption, there are a few simple changes in behavior and some inexpensive upgrades that can help you cut down on your usage. Check out the tips below and start saving today.
top energy and water uses in your home
HEATING AND COOLING
Heating and cooling your home uses more energy and costs more money than any other system - typically making up about 44% of your utility bill.
You can save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling by simply turning your thermostat back 7-10° from its normal setting when away from home.
Set your programmable thermostat as low as is comfortable in the winter and as high as is comfortable in the summer, as well as when you’re sleeping or away from home. The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall bill will be.
Utilizing the Emergency Heat or E-Heat setting on your thermostat is less energy efficient. Avoid utilizing this setting unless necessary.
In the summer, avoid setting your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner. It won’t cool your home any faster but could result in excessive cooling and therefore, unnecessary expense.
Appliances account for about 13% of your household's energy costs; refrigeration, cooking and laundry top the list.
Keep range-top burners and reflectors clean. They will reflect the heat better, and you will save energy.
Use a covered kettle or pan, or an electric kettle to boil water; these methods are faster and use less electricity.
Ensure the size of the pan is matched to the heating element.
Don’t set your refrigerator or freezer too cold. The FDA recommends setting your refrigerator at or below 40° F and your freezer at 0° F.
Cover liquids and wrap foods stored in the refrigerator. Uncovered foods release moisture and make the compressor work harder.
Most of the energy used by a dishwasher is for water heating. Check the manual that came with your dishwasher for the manufacturer’s recommendations on water temperature; many have internal heating elements that allow you to set the water heater in your home to a lower temperature (120°F).
Scrape, don’t rinse, off large food pieces and bones. Soaking or prewashing is generally only recommended in cases of burned or dried on food.
Be sure your dishwasher is full but not overloaded before running it.
Avoid using the “rinse hold” on your machine for just a few soiled dishes. It uses 3-7 gallons of hot water each use.
Let your dishes air dry. If you don’t have an automatic air dry switch, turn off the control knob after the final rinse and prop the door open slightly so the dishes will dry faster.
Wash your clothes in cold water using a cold water detergent whenever possible. Switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut a load’s energy use in half.
Wash and dry full loads of laundry. If you are washing a small load, use the appropriate water level setting.
Dry towels and heavier cottons in separate loads from lighter weight clothes.
Clean the lint screen in the dryer after every load to improve air circulation and prevent fire hazards.
An average household dedicates about 9% of its energy budget to lighting. Switching to energy efficient lighting is one of the fastest ways to cut your energy bills.
Replacing 15 inefficient incandescent bulbs in your home with energy saving bulbs could save you about $50.00 per year. The most popular light bulbs available are halogen incandescent, company fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light emitting diodes (LEDs). Although they can initially cost more than traditional incandescent bulbs, they use less electricity and can save you money over their lifetime.
Replace old incandescent bulbs with ENERGY STAR® qualified bulbs for the best quality in savings. Visit EnergyStar.gov to find the right light bulbs for your fixtures.