The Green Home

Evict energy hogs from your home

Posted April 14, 2012 8:33 p.m. EDT

When it comes to electricity, times have changed! Modern families now have more electronics and gadgets than we could have imagined a decade ago, and we consume energy at an alarming rate. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, domestic energy consumption has more than doubled to about 100 quadrillion BTUs since 1949.

Look around your own home, and you'll find power guzzlers in both likely and unlikely places. But by making some fairly painless changes, you can see big savings in energy, cash, and yes, saving the planet by shrinking your carbon footprint. Here's a look at some of those power-hungry appliances, and what you can do to be more efficient and economical without any hassle.

Old refrigerators

While older refrigerators may hold up better than their newer, more sleek-looking models, they also use up to three times more energy. Opting for a new Energy Star-rated refrigerator can save you significant cash in the long run. Your savings don't stop there. You're eligible for Energy Star tax credits for your purchase, while some electric utilities will pick up your obsolete appliances when you replace them.

Old freezers

Although those older freezers are amazing when frozen dinners go on sale, they can also cost about $120 a year to operate. Costs like that can easily wipe out any supermarket savings and can even put you in the hole. If your freezer's there for sentimental value, get rid of it — and consider replacing it with a more efficient Energy Star model, or doing without one at all.

Clothes Dryers

While the whirring and chugging of your washer's spin cycle might suggest it uses lots of energy, the dryer is the real power hog of the pair. Figures from the U.S. Department of Energy show that dryers consume between 1800 and 5000 watts of power. So 200 hour-long drying cycles could run you as much as $85. Not only does investing in a clothesline cost you mere pennies, but avoiding the dryer will also preserve the life of your clothes, saving you money in other areas as well.

Space Heaters

Thank goodness we're getting out of winter, as space heaters consume about as much power as a blow dryer (750 to 1500 watts), but stay on for much, much longer. One space heater might not consume a lot, but multiply that by three or four units, and you've got some real power guzzling going on. The obvious alternative — wearing thick sweaters or layers — really does work.

Televisions

Its common to use the TV as a white noise machine when we're not watching, but we might as well be throwing money out the window. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates TV power consumption at between 110 and 170 watts, meaning that if you leave it on eight hours a day, you're consuming close to 1 kilowatt of energy. Over the course of a year that could add up to $30 per TV set you leave on. Just as you would with lights, shut TVs off when they're not in use.

Personal Computers and Monitors

While many consumers now favor laptops for home and on-the-go use, it's not as if the tower computer with a separate monitor is a thing of the past. Taken together, a computer and its monitor eat up close to 300 watts of energy. Suppose that you leave your computer on eight hours a day, you're now looking at more than $60 in energy usage over the course of a year! When you computer's not in use, power down.

When it comes to looking for power drains around the house, the best thing to do is to consider age. Old appliances, especially the large ones, don't run nearly as efficiently as newer ones from a power-consumption standpoint. Put these bits of wisdom to work, and chances are you'll save hundreds of dollars a year on your energy bills. Also, getting in the habit of shutting all your appliances and lights off when not in use is going to help.

About this Blog:

Bobby Ferrel, founder of Green Horizon oversees The Green Home blog. Ferrel is co-founder of Green Horizon, with offices in the Triangle and Charlotte, offering home owners and builders a one-stop shop for energy efficiency and green building. Services include home performance assessments, weatherization, closed crawl spaces, all types of insulation, HVAC and geothermal installation and maintenance. Reach Bobby directly at bferrel@greenhorizon.com or visit him online at www.greenhorizon.com