Growing up as a child in my parents’ home, I did not fully understand the significance of energy conservation. I would walk through every room in the house, flicking on every light, and then would exit every single room without turning off a single light. Once my parents came home or upstairs, they would fuss about the lights being on.
At the time, I didn’t even come close to comprehending the depth of energy conservation as I do now. There came a time when they even had to look into home insurance for carpenter ant damage because we attracted ants by consistently leaving bags of food open.
Now, I am an adult and have a 2-year-old that has recently discovered light switches. She takes her little stool from room to room after waking up and switches on every single light. I find myself having to do checks throughout the day to make sure the lights are off.
Being an adult in these situations now allows me to see things from my parents’ perspective.
The upkeep of a home is expensive and as a joyful, carefree child, you do not see that. As I grew up, however, I had to learn how to closely monitor bills and the items that were causing my expenses to jump through the roof constantly.
One interesting thing I learned throughout my observations was that there are many common household items that cause people to waste energy without even knowing.
What is energy conservation?
The book definition of energy conservation is the effort that is taken to reduce the utilization of energy by reducing the use of an energy service. This definition can be simplified to eliminating the consumption of energy completely by not using an energy service at all.
Those who practice energy conservation to the extent of not using energy at all tend to accomplish this by living without electricity and the tools that run off it. This includes, but is not limited to, televisions, computers, phones, toilets, food preservations (food/freezer), and central heating systems in your home.
Practicing conservation to that extent is great for the planet, but makes it difficult to function in the 21st century, which is why some people practice energy conservation by reducing instead of removing energy. Reducing energy conservation also saves you money.
How does energy conservation save you money?
What many people do not consider when monitoring their expenses is their utility bills. People are not having conversations about utility bills, and they need to because these tend to be one of the largest living expenses. One utility bill always includes electricity usage.
Electricity is a secondary energy source that we get from primary energy sources. Those primary sources of energy are coal, natural gas, oil, and other natural resources. Companies use the primary energy sources to create the electricity they charge you for. That electricity keeps everything in your home operating. So using less electricity equates to those companies charging you less.
Aside from saving you money, energy conservation can potentially save the planet. Creating electricity alone has an impact on our land, air, and water. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Producing and using electricity more efficiently reduces both the amount of fuel needed to generate electricity and the number of greenhouse gases and other air pollution emitted as a result.”
For those of you who do not know, greenhouse gases and other air pollutants lead to warmer temperatures. Having a world with warmer climates means the sea levels will rise, extreme weather will increase, causing heat-related deaths and an increase in the transmission of infectious diseases.
These things all could have a negative effect on all living organisms.
What items in the home use the most electricity?
You can save money with your utility bills by first picking the best electricity company and plan. People do not really look into the rates that electricity companies charge, and that is one of the common mistakes when choosing an energy plan.
Another way you can save money on your utility bills is by monitoring the objects that are using up your energy. Out of all of the items in your home that use the most energy, these are select items that use the most energy throughout your home.
Heating and Cooling Systems
Heating tends to use around 27% of the energy in the house. This is especially true during the winter when you need to significantly boost the temperature inside your home.
Cooling uses around 19%. You may not have to regulate the temperature too much in your home depending on where you live, but during warmer seasons you may need to find energy-efficient ways to cool your house down.
This uses 14% of your energy. Many underestimate the energy used to warm up the water when you are washing your hands or taking a shower, but it certainly adds up.
Washer and Dryer
For those who have both a washer and dryer, these appliances can use up 13% of your household energy. This percentage may be higher for those with children or big families because you are doing more loads of laundry weekly.
Of course, your lights take up 12% of your energy. Just like my toddler, your kid loves to have a bright house too, and they probably think it’s fun to turn the switches on and off (usually leaving them on) all day.
Keeping your food cold in a refrigerator takes about 8% of your energy. However, this is an appliance that most people cannot live without in today’s world.
Electric Oven and Dishwasher
These both only make up 3% each. That is not a large percentage of energy, but using the electricity for these appliances uses enough energy to increase your bill.
Surprisingly, your television only takes up 1% of your energy. People tend to use the television the most out of the other objects in their home, so it can be shocking to see it only uses 1%.
Though that percentage can make a huge difference on an electricity bill too.
Ultimately, these percentages can fluctuate depending on the household and the number of people in your household.
These percentages may even be inflated due to the fact that you may be currently sheltering-in-place because of COVID-19. If you are sheltering-in-place and are working from home, there are still things you can do to save energy while working at home.
Things You May not Know that Waste Energy and Cost You Money
Wasted energy is the energy that is not usefully used or transformed into a different form. The items I listed above are readily known to use the most energy in your home, but they are typically items that are necessary. There are also instances and unnecessary objects that could be causing you to waste energy.
Walking around with wet hair can be annoying and frustrating for me, so I am sure it is the same way for others. Though blow-drying helps deal with the annoyance of having wet hair sit on your shoulders, the usage of a blow dryer can be running your bill up.
Drying your hair naturally may be a better, energy-efficient alternative.
Vanity mirrors have quickly become popular. Especially since on social media, people share how that special person in their life has crafted a vanity mirror by hand for them.
These mirrors can take up to 10 lightbulbs, so they can easily use a lot of energy. Using LED or other energy-efficient bulbs may counteract this energy waste.
Have you ever stood in front of your refrigerator for a couple of minutes trying to find something to eat? Or have you seen another family member do this? This indecisiveness can raise the consumption of energy in your home more than you know too.
When all the time adds up, people can spend 10 or more hours at an open refrigerator or freezer. This is specifically true to those who leave the door open while cooking. So shut the door, and save the energy!
Did you know that even though your television is off it is still using energy? Yes! When you leave your television or other appliances plugged into the wall while off, it still uses up energy.
Instead of unplugging every device and appliance in the house, you can use smart outlets that are energy efficient. These electrical adapters come in all shapes and sizes and can be found in all major department stores.
Drinking Tea or Coffee
If you drink multiple cups of tea or coffee throughout the day, you could be wasting energy by consistently boiling water. Boiling 10 kettles of water per day can cost around $110 per year.
Save Energy Whenever You Can
As you can see, there are a lot of ways that you can run up your electricity bill by wasting energy. With the uncertainty of the future’s economic standing because of COVID-19, you may want to take every measure possible to save money.
These instances may be surprising to you and are something you may even want to look out for while practicing energy conservation during the lockdown.
About the author
Imani Francies writes and researches for the insurance comparison site, USInsuranceAgents.com. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Media and specializes in various forms of media marketing.