8 habits that waste energy in your home


Most of us have at least one or two bad habits we’d like to break. Hey, we’re all human.

Perhaps some of those bad habits are wasting energy in the home. If you’re looking for ways to cut costs, add money back into your budget and reduce your carbon footprint, put a priority on breaking these.

1. Letting “energy vampires” haunt you

Energy vampires are electronics that continue to draw power even when they’re not in use. A cable box with DVR, plugged in for a year and never used, would add about $38 to an electric bill (assuming a rate of $0.10/kWh). Vanquish those vampires by unplugging items, if possible, when not in use. A power strip makes it as simple as toggling a switch.

2. Leaving on lights when you’re not in the room

A light fixture with two 60-watt bulbs, left on for eight hours each weekday, would add $25 a year to an electric bill. So, be sure to switch off the lights, whether you’re leaving the house to go to work, or just walking from room to room.

3. Washing partial loads of dishes

The average dishwasher draws about 1,800 watts of electricity. Used daily, for an hour, it would cost $66 a year to run. If that dishwasher were used two fewer days a week on average, the homeowner would save about $19 during that year.

4. Not installing your storm windows

If you have storm windows, by all means, take the time to install them before winter hits. That time investment could be repaid with savings. The National Resource Defense Council estimates storm windows can reduce heat loss by 25 to 50 percent in cold weather.

5. Leaving the microwave door open

This is an example of an energy vampire we thought worthy of special mention. On average, a microwave oven with the door left open uses 26 watts of electricity, compared to about 3 watts for an oven with the door closed. The 23-watt difference would add $20 to an electric bill over the course of a year—even if that oven never heated a single burrito.

6. Taking a daily hot bath

An occasional hot bath is a nice way to end a stressful day. But day-in and day-out, a shower is a more efficient way to get clean. A 10-minute shower under a low-flow (2 gallons per minute) showerhead uses 20 gallons of water, compared to the 30 gallons used in a typical bath. Over the course of a year, opting for a daily shower could save more than 3,600 gallons of water, plus the energy needed to heat that water.

7. Leaving your water heater’s thermostat set too high

Find your water heater’s temperature control and lower it to 120 degrees Fahrenheit—that’s adequate for most household tasks. According to one estimate, that simple change could help homeowners save 15 to 25 percent on their water heating costs.

 8. Not programming your home’s thermostat

There’s probably no good reason to keep your home at its “occupied” temperature while you’re away. If you have a programmable thermostat, take a few minutes to set it. Manual thermostat? Get into the habit of re-setting it when you leave, arrive, go to bed and wake up. According to Energy.gov, turning the thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours could save homeowners 5 to 15 percent a year on their heating bills.

 Winter: Set to 68 degrees when you’re home and awake, and 58 while you’re away or asleep.

 Summer: Set to 78 degrees when you’re home during the day, and 88 while you’re away and/or at night.

Chances are, you could save a lot of money on your electricity and other utility bills by changing some simple habits.

Looking for additional savings? Consider solar. Getting electricity from the sun is an excellent “habit” to develop. It’s easy with SolarCity, and you can have a system installed for $0 down. Learn more about solar panels for your home.

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