8 Ways Your Home Is Wasting Energy And How To Fix Them
Wasting energy is like taking your hard-earned cash and throwing it in the garbage. You may only feel the impact on your wallet once a month when your utility bills arrive, but it still dents your monthly budget. Not to mention, its contribution to climate change. Fortunately, you can make your footprint a lot more green with simple once-and-done repairs and adjustments.
1. An Uninsulated Garage
Maybe you inspect your windows and doors before each cold season. When you notice the weather stripping has gone bare or you catch a draft, you take immediate action. You head to the hardware store, replace that material, or grab the caulk gun. However, you could still lose tremendous energy every time you come home if you typically enter through your garage.
Many interior doors from the garage open to high-traffic areas like your kitchen, and open floor plans let the cold (or hot) air flood through the doorway. There’s nothing to stop that heat or cold from adjusting your interior temperature several degrees, causing your HVAC system to kick into high gear.
A well-insulated garage creates a cave-like space. While it won’t maintain the same temperature as the rest of your home, it will mitigate the worst of the climate’s effects.
2. Old Freezer Running
Many people make a great choice by replacing their old refrigerator/freezer model with a sustainable Energy Star model that should reduce their energy consumption and costs. However, they don’t see the difference in their monthly bill. Why?
Instead of recycling that old dinosaur appliance, many people merely shift its location from the kitchen to the garage, where it keeps sapping your home’s energy reserves and raising your monthly charges. Schedule an appliance recycling pickup and prevent energy wastage.
3. A Drippy Faucet Wastes More Than Water
Do you have one of those faucets that stays dripping unless you turn the handle just right? You probably know that your plumbing needs upgrading if you want to conserve water, a precious resource. However, did you realize you waste more than droplets?
Your water heater doesn’t differentiate between intentional pours and a drippy faucet you accidentally forgot to turn off all the way. It has one job – keeping that liquid toasty warm – and it draws electricity to do so. It isn’t as hard as you might imagine to simply change out your fixtures and save considerable cash and energy over time.
The one exception to the no-drippy-faucets rule occurs when you go out of town during the winter holidays. If you live in a location where frozen pipes are an issue, it’s smart to leave one faucet dripping to maintain constant pressure and avoid bursts.
4. Water Heater Set Too High
Your water heater might be wasting energy in one additional way. Many people default to 140°F, but doing so creates an unnecessary energy vampire – while possibly endangering your family.
Water that’s 140°F can create a severe burn within three minutes. Conversely, it takes 10 minutes to burn in 120°F water. Your simple fix here is to dial down your water heater temperature to the appropriate level. You’ll prevent potential scalding while saving money and energy consumption.
5. Spinning for No Reason
Ceiling fans can be a boon for the environment. When you set them to spin clockwise in the winter, it draws hot air up from your floor vents and circulates it around the room, making you feel warmer without turning up the thermostat. Reverse the blade direction in the summer to stay cooler.
However, fans are designed to cool people and not rooms. Leaving the room — or even the house — with the blades spinning is an energy waste. Likewise, pay attention to your bathroom exhaust fans. While they help remove humidity during a shower, there’s no need to keep them running once your mirror clears.
6. The Little Things You Leave Plugged In
If you’re like many people, you probably have various chargers for different electronic devices all over your home. While this approach may be convenient, especially if you work from home and move from room to room, leaving them in the socket drains energy. They continue to pull power even when not in use.
Your solution? Create a charging station along a singular power strip with an on-off switch. Instead of going room to room to unplug your chargers, hit one button and you’re done.
7. That Leaky Gasket
Appliances, like your refrigerator and stove, use 13% of your home’s total energy on average. If you struggle to get that fridge or freezer door to stay shut, you’re wasting unnecessary power and risking your meat defrosting if you aren’t careful.
Fortunately, it’s a piece of cake to replace a worn gasket — the little spongy strip of magnetized plastic that holds your appliance’s doors closed. You can redo an entire fridge for less than $100, and the whole process takes about 15 to 20 minutes. That’s not bad for potentially saving hundreds of dollars in lost frozen food, not to mention the environmental impact.
8. Shade the Air Conditioner
Many homes with central AC place the units on the roof. While this placement may increase your yard space slightly, it’s a nightmare for energy efficiency.
Putting this appliance in the shade can reduce your energy costs by 50%, at least according to home improvement guru Bob Vila. If possible, place it alongside your home where you get shade and the eaves may provide additional protection.
Rose Morrison is the managing editor of Renovated, and has been writing in the home living industry for over five years. Her work has been featured on The National Association of Realtors, the American Society of Home Inspectors and other reputable publications.