We’re reaching the one-year anniversary of the arrival of COVID-19 in the US, and what we hoped would be a few weeks or months of inconvenience has evolved into a host of lifestyle changes.
Pre-COVID, families would spend 6-8 hours awake at home. Now with working and learning at home, many of us are there the better part of 24 hours every day. And that has a big impact on our power usage.
Let’s take a look at the various ways it is changing.
Heating and Cooling
Heating and cooling account for 47% of home energy use in the US. When the house was vacant 8-10 hours on weekdays, considerable savings could be had by cutting heating or cooling during those times. While we can still reduce electric and gas use when we’re sleeping, we lose some of that prior benefit by being home during the daytime. And a programmable or “smart” thermostat is still a good investment.
It’s harder to concentrate on work or studies (or relax) when we’re too hot or cold, though, so maintaining a comfortable environment is important. But that doesn’t mean you can’t save money and still be comfy.
Dress for success—successfully saving energy, that is. Warm and cozy in the winter; cool and breezy in the summer. Looser warm clothing traps body heat, and less is more in the heat of summer.
Use space heaters safely to warm smaller spaces without needing the full fury of the furnace. Reversible multi-speed ceiling fans move warm air down toward you in the winter, hot air up and away in the summer. Keep them turning slowly in the winter but speed them up in warm weather for a cooling breeze.
Your water heater is the second biggest household energy hog, accounting for 14%. Between them, the washer/dryer and dishwasher add another 15%. Throw in a few hot baths or showers and washing you and yours is right on the heels of heating and cooling when it comes to energy use in the home.
The first step in saving hot water costs is making sure your appliances have a high Energy Star rating. The ratings compare individual items’ energy use to similar products. New appliances have tags on them with the rating and the estimated annual operating cost. If you’ve kept the paperwork, you might find the Energy Star tag from existing appliances. If not, you can probably look it up on the webs. Use the ratings to help decide whether it’s time to upgrade.
Water heater technology has improved considerably in the last few years, and other options like tankless heaters, inline heaters, and heat pump heaters can also save depending on your circumstances.
Energy Star ratings should help guide your kitchen appliance purchases, too. Refrigerators, ranges, and ovens typically add up to about 10% of your energy use, and that’s likely to have climbed lately with more home cooking.
At 12% of home energy use, chances are a little extra lighting for work and study won’t add a lot to your electric bill, but it still totals up. Save on lighting costs by using low-energy LED lighting wherever possible (and that’s nearly everywhere these days, both indoors and out). Take a look at your home’s lighting design, too. Simple changes can improve functionality, comfort, and mood.
Vampires Are Lurking
Nearly everything we use these days has some sort of computer chip in it and a lot of those things are on 24/7 whether you know it or not. Aside from Alexa and her friends lurking about constantly, TVs, computers, networks, entertainment centers, and “smart” appliances constantly trickle current from your outlets onto your electric bill.
These hidden energy stealers are called vampires and while they don’t suck blood, just like leaky faucets, those little energy drips can add up, sometimes to several hundred dollars a year.
To learn more about vampire current and how to fight back, read this article on our website.
Now, the Good News
Today’s lifestyle comes at a price, but it’s not all bad news. Energy-saving appliances and tips like those referenced above can offset some of those costs. Energy companies often have rebates, sometimes considerable, for new energy efficient appliances. The government even gets into the act with occasional tax breaks. Check their websites for current programs and offers.
The money you save from less commuting and dining out post-COVID can offset added home energy costs, too.
Allstar Electrical Services is committed to responsible, safe energy use without compromising comfort and convenience. We deliver the quality results you expect and deserve for your energy-saving upgrades and any of your other electrical needs. Just give us a call at 303.399.7420 or visit our website. Then use our handy online forms to request a free estimate or set up an appointment. We’ve served the Front Range for over 20 years, are top-rated by the Better Business Bureau and Angie’s List, and are proud to be listed as a preferred contractor by Home Advisor.