Grey skies, freezing temperatures, snowy conditions. The long, cold winter months are already hard enough to get through. But we’re here to help you ease one of the woes of winters a little: soaring energy bills.
There are little things that you might not even realize you’re doing that are slowly ticking up your energy costs. This list explains common mistakes that waste energy and offers solutions to fix your mistakes and put some money back in your pocket.
Mistake #1: You’re letting electronics and appliances suck energy. Call it phantom load, standby power, or vampire draw it’s all the same thing: energy that’s used by your electronics even when they’re not in use. Many of the appliances and devices around your home draw power continuously, wasting energy and running up your electric bill as much as 10%. When it comes to this type of energy loss, little things add up fast, like leaving charging cords plugged in or TVs and computers on when they’re not in use. Slash these unnecessary costs by unplugging devices when you’re not using them or using smart power strips to power multiple devices, making it easy to turn off the juice completely. Alternatively, many of the devices you use daily have a sleep or standby feature that turns them off after a certain amount of time.
Mistake #2: You’re using inefficient lighting. You already know to turn off the lights when you leave a room. But the way you are lighting your home can have an even more dramatic impact on your energy use. Traditional incandescent lightbulbs were phased out in 2023, leading to the widespread use of more energy-efficient options like LEDs and CFL lighting. According to energy.gov, LED bulbs can last up to 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs and save hundreds of dollars in electricity bills over their lifetime, meaning it takes less than a year to pay back the higher upfront cost of energy efficient bulbs.
Mistake #3: Your HVAC is working harder than it needs to. Dirty filters and leaky ductwork can make your HVAC system work harder than it needs to, putting strain on the unit and driving up your energy bills. Clean or replace filters regularly and insulate ductwork to keep it running at peak efficiency. Read this post for an easy guide to showing your furnace some love.
Mistake #4: Your appliances are outdated. Older appliances, especially washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, and freezers, can be major energy hogs. When you need to replace an appliance, compare the bright yellow and black EnergyGuide label on display models and look for the ENERGY STAR logo to make sure your choice meets minimum federal standards for energy efficiency.
Mistake #5: Your hot water heater is working overtime. Heating water accounts for about 18% of your home's energy use and is the typically the second largest energy expense in any home. Simple steps like using less hot water, turning down the thermostat on your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and insulating hot water pipes can save you hundreds of dollars a year. If you have an older hot water heater, check to see if it has an R-value of at least 24. If you’re not sure about the R-value, touch the tank to see if it feels warm to the touch. If so, wrapping the tank with a water heater insulation blanket reduces standby heat loss by as much as 45%.
Mistake #6: Your doors welcome drafts right into your home. If you have gaps around your door frame, you’re letting valuable heat go right out the door. Seal gaps with weatherstripping and slip a door draft stopper under the door to reduce energy loss and make your home feel warmer.
A DIY Fix to Energy Mistakes: Do a Home Energy Audit
All these issues can quickly add up to a lot of wasted energy and money. You can hire a professional to do a comprehensive home energy audit that assesses all the areas of your home and pinpoints problem areas. But did you know you can do a basic energy audit yourself to find spots around your home that could benefit from some energy-saving changes? Read this post to find three easy tests you can do to identify air leaks that are costing you money.