These days, reducing our environmental impact is more important than ever before, but knowing where to start can be a real challenge.
How much energy do you consume each year? Is your car as efficient as it could be? Which devices and appliances are using the most power in your home? What upgrades will make the biggest impact?
Is your head spinning yet? Ours is too. But don't worry! The good news is there are tons of free online tools available right at your fingertips that can help make answering some of these questions easy!
Not sure where to look? We've got you covered. Here are five of our favorite online tools to help you save money and energy, whether you're at home or on the go.
Have you ever wondered which of your appliances and home devices are the biggest energy hogs? They're typically the culprit behind your high monthly electrical bills, and often they're not the products you think!
Energy Saver, an office of the U.S. Department of Energy, has a great tool to help you find out more about the energy hogs in your home.
The Appliance and Electronic Energy Use Calculator helps estimate the annual energy usage of specific home appliances and devices as well as the costs to run them.
To use the calculator, simply select the type of appliance you want to assess from the dropdown list, enter its wattage, select your state to receive accurate utility rates and input the hours you estimate you use the device per day as well as the number of days you think you use the device per year. From there, you'll receive an estimate of its predicted annual energy use and what it will likely cost you in the process.
It can be a great place to start if you're considering investing in more energy-efficient appliances and need help deciding which ones to focus on!
And another excellent tool if you're investing in more energy-efficient appliances is ENERGY STAR's Rebate Finder! It helps you locate rebates and special offers in your area to help you save on investments in ENERGY STAR-certified products.
ENERGY STAR-certified products meet a set of strict energy-efficiency requirements put forward by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA). As a result, they are more energy-efficient than their traditional counterparts, helping you to save money on your monthly energy bills while simultaneously investing in a cleaner, more energy-conscious future.
To use the tool, enter your ZIP code into the search bar. The Rebate Finder will then populate a list of incentives available in your area across various categories, like home appliances, building products like insulation, doors and windows, heating and cooling systems and water heaters.
Now our third tool is a perfect starting point for any energy-saving newbie looking to understand their consumption habits better. ENERGY STAR's Home Energy Yardstick (HEY) offers a quick and easy online assessment of your home's annual energy consumption compared to similar homes nationwide.
To complete the assessment, you'll have to answer a few simple questions about your property, including its square footage, how many people live there, and the type of energy you use (i.e. solar, wind, natural gas, etc.) as well as provide the last twelve months of your energy bill data (aka how much you paid).
Once you've answered all the required questions, you'll receive a score on a scale of 1 to 10, ranking your household's overall efficiency!
Next, we have the Department of Energy's Vehicle Cost Calculator. This tool provides emissions data and details on lifetime operating costs for specific vehicle makes and models, including alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles like those that are electric or biodiesel-powered.
To use the tool, you'll need to input some basic information about your driving habits, such as your average daily driving distance, how often you typically drive, and the percentage of your total traveled distance you estimate is driven on highways.
If you're looking to buy a new car or truck, this is a fantastic tool to help you compare different vehicle types and determine which one will meet your lifestyle needs best while simultaneously costing you the least and doing the most for the planet in the process.
And last but not least, we couldn't put together a list of online tools for saving money and energy without mentioning OhmConnect!
OhmConnect is a free service that alerts you to the times when electricity is most expensive in your neighborhood, equipping you with the knowledge you need to know when to power down and save.
By unplugging your devices during these energy-saving events (called OhmHours), you can earn points called Watts — which you can then cash in for rewards like gift cards, prizes, donations and cash right back in your wallet!
How does it work, you ask? It's pretty simple! During peak times when more electricity than average is being consumed in your neighborhood, utility providers are forced to turn on additional electrical plants called peaker plants to accommodate the added demand. These pop-up power plants are worse for the planet and more expensive to run than traditional power plants, and providers would rather pay you to power down than pay to turn them on.
Because of this, OhmConnect can take the energy you save during peak times and sell it back to the grid, sharing those profits with you. It's a win-win!
You can even connect your home's smart plugs and smart thermostat to your OhmConnect account through the platform. In doing so, you can enable OhmConnect to power down your selected devices during OhmHours automatically, allowing you to set it, forget it and max out your rewards.
Not an OhmConnect member yet? What are you waiting for? Signing up is quick and easy. Click here to get started!