Explore Ways to Reduce Your Energy Consumption
Do you know how much your appliances are costing you? Most homeowners don’t, because, let’s face it, we’re all so busy that we don’t have time to tab up the dollars-and-cents amounts of the things we use every day—our TVs and fridges and dishwashers. But it’s a pertinent question, since energy prices in the US have climbed at a clip of 2.8% each year since 1960.
That rate of increase, however, does not factor in the costs of utilities like water and natural gas—which are also soaring nationwide. Factors as volatile as political upheavals and climate change can affect the pricing and availability of energy reserves, so households may find that they can’t budget long-term for the bills they get from their utility companies.
They also may find it difficult to scale back those budgets. Saving on electricity isn’t as simple as turning off the lights when you leave the room—although that can help. Even using appliances in off-peak times is often not enough to lower your bills. So what can help you cut costs? Following these tips that we put together to reduce your energy consumption at home.
Your Roof Can Help You Save
Your roof does more than just keep the rain out—it’s your home’s first line of defense in energy efficiency. Here are a few ways that it helps you reduce energy use.
- Solar Reflectance, Absorption, and Thermal Emittance
When sunlight hits your roof, a number of processes occur:
- The surface of your roof reflects away some of that solar energy.
- Your roof also absorbs some of the energy and transfers it into your house.
- And it emits a portion of the energy that it absorbs back into the atmosphere.
Your roofing materials influence how much heat makes its way into your house. A darker-colored roof may absorb so much light that it becomes the hottest part of the building. Cool roofs, meanwhile, tend to be made of lighter-colored materials with high solar reflectance—like asphalt, wood, and polymer shingles, or clay and concrete tiles—lowering the amount of heat conducted into your house and easing the strain on your air-conditioning system, which could cut down on your utility bills and reduces energy use. (Side-note: Not all cool roofs are white or light-colored. Some cool-color roofs use darker-hued pigments that are highly reflective in the near-infrared spectrum.)
- Qualifying for ENERGY STAR Certification
Technicians measure solar reflectance on a scale of 0 or 1—from 0% to 100% reflective. If your roof has an initial solar reflectance of at least .25, and a 3-year solar reflectance measurement of at least .15, it can qualify for an ENERGY STAR certification.
ENERGY STAR appliances are some of the most trusted products on the market, in part because the EPA attests to their efficiency performance. They also lower greenhouse gas emissions. Your roof can qualify for an ENERGY STAR certification, which benefits your bottom line and amounts to a one-household-sized investment into the planet.
How Much Is Your Air Conditioning Unit Costing You?
If you’re like most homeowners, you probably won’t replace your AC until it stops working. But think about this: HVAC systems, on average, use 46% of the energy consumption of homes in the US—making it the biggest energy-guzzler of any appliance that you likely own. Evaluating your HVAC, especially if it’s an older unit, is one of the best ways to save electricity. Here are a few cost-saving measures to explore:
- Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) Ratings
Every air conditioning unit or heat pump in the US should have a score from the SEER rating system. The higher the number, the less electricity the AC or heat pump uses. Over time, regulators have required that new installations have higher SEER ratings. But older units, with lower SEER ratings, still pump air through a lot of houses—even though they draw more power than newer models. An older AC unit that might be a 10 SEER could cost around $655 a year to run, while a newer unit at 19 SEER might cost $345. Check yours to see what its rating is and how much you’re paying to operate it.
- Smart Thermostats
Ecobee, Nest, Wyze—these are some of the smart thermostat brands that can help your AC unit become more energy efficient. Another of the acclaimed Energy Star appliances, smart thermostats are WiFi-enabled, and adjust to energy-saving temperatures when you’re asleep or out of the house. You can also control the temperature through your phone. Geofencing helps your smart thermostat know when you’re coming home so it can switch the temp to your liking before you even walk in.
- Ceiling Fans
Running your fan makes the air in a room feel cooler than the actual temperature, so you can usually turn up your thermostat to be about four degrees warmer than it’s normally set to without feeling uncomfortable. The ceiling fan option won’t pan out during some stretches of the year, but your AC will run less frequently if the thermostat’s setting is close to the temperature outside. Check the weather and be ready to flip the switch.
Adding Energy-Efficient Appliances Could Help You Save
Your HVAC may use the most energy of all the appliances you own, but each appliance that’s plugged into the energy systems that power your home—namely, gas and electric—contribute to the total amount of energy you use (and pay for) each month.
If you’re using older products that burn through energy, it may be time to update them so you can start saving. We recommend installing—you guessed it—ENERGY STAR appliances. ENERGY STAR-certified apartments and homes are at least 10% more energy-efficient than residences built to code. They also achieve, on average, a 20% improvement in energy usage.
In 2019, ENERGY STAR helped US American households avoid paying $39 billion in energy costs and save almost 500 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity. Those savings reduced nearly 390 million metric tons of greenhouse gas—roughly equivalent to 5% of total US greenhouse gas emissions.
Adding a Solar Solution Can Help You Reduce Energy Consumption
Homeowners who go solar can cut their dependence on electrical utility companies—and adding a backup battery, like Tesla Powerwall, can enhance the benefits of harnessing solar.
- What is Tesla Powerwall?
A rechargeable battery system, Powerwall works with your solar installment and lets you store energy to use later on. Through the Tesla app, you can monitor your energy production and consumption, and claim credits for clean energy incentives.
Implement Home Improvements with PACE to Help You Save
We admit it: Solar might be more expensive than using the appliances you already have. With that said, it may be cost-effective to finance solar through our PACE program. See if your property qualifies today!