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Savings at the switch

How Much Energy Can You Really Save at Home?

Montana Denton
February 16, 2024

For countless American households, electricity consumption is a constant backdrop to our daily responsibilities, activities, and actions. From powering our devices to illuminating our living spaces, the demand for energy is ever-present. Yet, in this routine, there lies untapped potential — potential for significant energy savings that can collectively make a substantial difference.

Understanding Household Energy Consumption

To comprehend the potential for energy savings in your own home, it’s important to understand the landscape of typical household energy consumption. The average U.S. home consumes around 10,500 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity annually, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). This consumption is distributed across various activities, from heating and cooling to appliances, lighting, and powering various electronics.

To give you an idea, CNET compiled a data set of average monthly energy bills in states across the U.S. The average cost for a kilowatt-hour of energy is 16.21 cents in the United States, but this seemingly minuscule price adds up very quickly!

At the high end was Hawaii ($228.76/mo) and Texas ($156.77/mo) with California ($114.80/mo) and New York ($108.84/mo) sitting somewhere in the median. The most affordable energy bills for the study — which was conducted for the month of October 2023 — could be found in Utah ($69.55/mo) and New Mexico ($81.05/mo).

While just averages from one month of one year from places all around the U.S., the study demonstrates just how much electric bills vary for U.S. customers. This number also fluctuates widely across housing types, geographic regions, energy sources, and seasons across the U.S. — whereas multi-story single-family homes in California and Texas may be putting more of their power towards air conditioning, residents of small apartments in New York City might be faced with a much higher heating bill in the winter months.

Time for an Upgrade: Changes and Replacements

Make no mistake, it's time for an upgrade — when it comes to household energy consumption, significant shifts and subtle adjustments can both lead to dramatic results. Your energy savings strategy doesn’t necessarily have to focus on high-yield, big-ticket changes like swapping out appliances — even small, habitual changes like turning off the lights when leaving a room can lead you to a more energy-efficient and sustainable lifestyle over time.

  • Smart Thermostats — Installing a smart thermostat can lead to substantial savings by optimizing heating and cooling based on occupancy and preferences. In parts of the country where air conditioning is a necessity, a smart thermostat can make a notable difference during warmer months. Not ready for a replacement? If you’re comfortable with a slightly cooler home in the winter, you can save up to 3% on your electricity bill for each degree that you turn your thermostat down!
  • Heating and cooling — replacing your current HVAC system with a heat pump is a more energy-efficient choice. This appliance can both heat and cool your home and do so more efficiently.
  • Think Before You Wash — make a habit of washing and drying only full loads of laundry and dishes, and stick with the cold water setting on your appliances, unless it’s really necessary! Rather than running your dryer for a full cycle, you might also want to consider setting up a clothes rack or clothesline to dry your garments. Bonus: this is easier on your clothes and will help them last longer!
  • LED Lighting: Transitioning to energy-efficient LED bulbs is a cost-effective switch that not only reduces electricity consumption but also lowers long-term maintenance costs. A lower-cost upgrade is incorporating more natural light into your house — keep those curtains open during the winter to maximize the power of the sun, but don’t forget to close them at night to keep that warmth inside.
  • Energy-Efficient Appliances: Upgrading to ENERGY STAR-rated appliances, from refrigerators to washing machines, can collectively contribute to significant energy savings. Reduce “energy vampires” — electricity that is wasted when your electronics aren’t in use — from your appliances by plugging them into a power strip that you can turn off each night.  
  • Maintenance Is Key — having your heating system inspected and serviced annually is a great way to ensure that your home is operating efficiently. Don’t forget to check your ducts too — dust, lint, and other debris can block air vents and reduce the efficiency of your heating system.
  • Saving Smarter: Another simple strategy for saving is time-based rates — many utilities are encouraging their customers to use electricity during off-peak hours, passing the savings onto consumers through rebates or reduced energy rates. Home energy management — from cheap monitors to smart systems to programs (like OhmConnect, for example!) — alert users and their homes of their energy consumption and when to reduce their electricity usage. If you’re able to shift your power use — running your dishwasher late at night or recharging your EV while you’re sleeping — you can save money while alleviating stress on the power grid.

Crunching the Numbers: Calculating Your Energy Savings

A pivotal piece of successful energy conservation lies in comprehending not only the environmental impact of our choices but also the benefits for our wallets. Whether it's embracing energy-efficient appliances or optimizing our home's heating systems, these changes extend beyond just reducing our carbon footprint — they translate into real and substantial savings. To put the potential savings into perspective, let's consider a few scenarios:

  • Smart Thermostat: According to data collected by Nest, smart thermostats can save approximately 10-12% on heating and 15% on cooling costs. Based on typical energy costs, Nest estimates that the average customer can expect to save roughly $140 per year on energy bills — although this is dependent on where you live, what your residence looks like, and how much energy you’re using.
  • ​​LED Lighting: Switching to energy-efficient lighting is a win-win — get the same amount of light in your home for less energy and money! Lighting accounts for around 15% of an average home’s electricity consumption, and the Department of Energy estimates that the average household can save around $225 in annual energy costs by switching to LEDs.
  • Energy-Efficient Appliances: Upgrading your appliances to ENERGY STAR-certified models could yield energy bill savings of around $450 each year.

Home is Where Sustainability Starts

While these annual savings estimates may seem modest at an individual level, the true power lies in the collective impact. If every household in a state embraces simple energy-saving practices, the cumulative effect becomes staggering. The potential for reducing overall electricity consumption and collectively decreasing our environmental footprint becomes an achievable goal — with personal incentives in the form of your decreasing monthly power bill!

The potential for energy savings is more than just a hack to cut costs — it’s a decisive step towards paving the way for a more sustainable future, one household at a time. From adjusting thermostats to embracing energy-efficient technologies, let's harness the potential power of collective energy savings — both economic and environmental.

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