I remember when the electric bill was called the light bill. With the outrageous prices here in Tucson, that feels like a lifetime ago. Those were the days when electricity was mainly used for lighting because there were few other appliances in the home that consumed a lot of energy. Not so today. There are too many conveniences that we have come to depend on today that make our lives easier.
However, the price we pay for these modern-day conveniences comes in the form of an electric bill that seems to get higher every year. Part of that is the age we live in; fossil fuels cost more today than they did even just a few years ago. But the other reason is that we are simply using more electricity than ever before.
The biggest energy user is our heating and cooling system. In fact, in warmer climates, air conditioning alone typically accounts for more than half of a household’s total electric bill. Both your heating and cooling units have “lifespans” and if you home is creeping up on 10 years or more, you may want to consider replacing it with a more energy-efficient one. Although the investment of a new system can seem (at first) difficult to swallow, over time, the energy (and money) you save with a more efficient unit will exceed the up-front costs.
If you decide to invest in a new furnace and/or air conditioner, consult with a professional. Not only will they be able to properly size the system to your house, but they will also be able to address any “cold or hot spots” in your house and make those fixes at the same time as the install. Remember, it isn’t just about conserving your energy bill, it is just as important to keep your family comfortable, too.
Another way to conserve energy is by installing a programmable thermostat. The thermostat can be specifically programmed to fit your family’s lifestyle. During the weekdays, you may have one routine that you program (so you are not excessively heating or cooling your home when no one is home) while you may select a different program when you are home on the weekends. This is also handy to have when you are away on vacation. You can set it more appropriately when you are gone and then set it to return to “normal” when you are scheduled to return home. Again, these little tricks will conserve energy and save you money over time.
Another electric guzzler is the electric water heater. A traditional tank, whether it is gas or electric, keeps the entire tank of water heated 24/7/365 whether you use the water or not. Today, there are several alternatives to the traditional model. Tank-less water heaters are available and can be installed for the entire house or smaller on-demand models can be installed under the kitchen sink, for example.
Other options for water heaters include high-efficiency gas water heaters, such as A.O. Smith’s Vertex™ which provides continuous hot water shower after shower. There are also solar water heater options.
Refrigerator and freezers are both guilty of guzzling electricity, especially if it was manufactured before 2001. Be sure to replace your old model with a more energy efficient one by looking for the Energy Star® label. Top freezers use less energy than the side-by-side or bottom models. Save even more energy if you can skip the ice maker and dispenser.