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Easy Ways To Reduce Energy Costs!

Updated on July 9, 2014

Energy Consumption in the US!

In the year 2010 the US ranked the 2nd largest consumer of energy and it's not getting any better. Increased standard of living and population growth are among the major factors that contribute to the huge increase in the level of energy consumption in the US.

The population in the country doubled over the last few years and this contributes significantly to the increased consumption of energy. The majority of the US residents have also grown more accustomed to using electronic appliances and gadgets so the immediate rise in electricity consumption is no longer surprising.

The annual consumption of energy in the US is so enormous that experts often measure it in quadrillion BTUs. A quadrillion BTU (1 quad) is almost equivalent to the total energy consumption of about 5.5 million households in the US in 2009. In the year 2009, it was estimated that around 94.9 quads of energy are consumed all throughout the country and this has increased even more in the last three years.

The Most Common Causes of High Energy Consumption!

Aside from the improved standard of living and population growth, there are other factors that contribute to the increase in energy consumption. Some of these are the following:

  1. The Use of Seasonal Electronic Items: Electronic appliances and other devices that are used at specific seasons of the year such as dehumidifiers, air conditioners and hot air furnaces can cause a dramatic increase in your energy consumption. Even if you use items that operate using gas or oil, electricity will still be consumed for proper circulation.
  2. A Completely Occupied House: Specific times of the year when your home is fully occupied like school vacations and holidays may be among those periods when your energy consumption is higher than what is normal. The electrical usage may increase even more if you have house guests since this translates to an increased use of laundry, showers, dishes and cooking. It should also be noted that the type, ventilation, age and size of your house can greatly contribute to the increase of your electrical consumption.
  3. Faulty Appliances: These are among the most common causes of high electric bills. Faulty appliances like a constantly running pool pump, leaky water heater, faulty thermostat and defective freezer and refrigerator may lead to the surprising increase in your electricity bills. The majority of electronic devices still use power even if they are no longer in use so it is highly recommended for household owners to check all their appliances regularly for damages and unplug electronic items when not in use.

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Major Sources of Energy in the US!

  • Oil: This is the largest source of energy in the US. In fact, forty percent of the total energy consumption in the country is accounted to the use of oil. The US relies heavily on oil especially in the transportation sector. Its fleet of cars, trucks and SUVs completely depend upon diesel and gasoline to run. Airplanes, trains and any other means of transportation operate with the help of gasoline as well.
  • Clean Coal Technology:This is the second largest source of energy in the country and accounts for 23% of the total energy consumption. The majority of coal in the country is utilized as a means of producing electricity. The cleanest method when it comes to burning coal is called coal gasification which refers to the process of converting coal ore into flammable gas. But because coal gas is capable of releasing carbon, the process still contributes to acid rain, climate change and greenhouse effect. But the coal gasification process is still beneficial because of its ability to removes all the other harmful and contaminating substances associated to the burning of coal. Note that coal can also be liquefied and the liquefied form can be used in replacing gasoline.
  • Natural Gas: This is also used when it comes to producing electricity and the demand for this source of energy has increased steadily within the past fifteen years. A significant increase in demand for natural gas can still be expected over the coming years because of the also increasing demand for power plants that are now fueled using natural gas. There a lot of advantages from using natural gas as a main source of energy. One of these advantages is that the result of burning it is cleaner when compared to other fossil fuel such as coal and oil. Aside from that, natural gas also works effectively in providing power to automobiles.
  • Renewable Energy Sources: These are sources of energy that can be continuously replenished. Among the best examples for renewable sources of energy are geothermal sources, the sun, wind, water and biomass sources like energy crops. Fuels like natural gas, oil and coal that are already mentioned above are not renewable. Once these fuels are already deposited and depleted, one can no longer replenish them. Just like the non-renewable fuels, renewable energy sources also work in producing electricity, providing the right amount of light, heating and cooling and in powering automobiles.

What makes the renewable sources of energy even more beneficial is the fact that these are cost-effective and environmentally friendly. Renewable energy sources are incapable of causing pollution so these are ideal for household owners who want to help save the environment.

Traditional Power Versus Wind and Solar?

Different Types of Renewable Sources of Energy!

The renewable sources of energy have received a lot of praises over the last few years because of their ability to help reduce electricity bills. If you are one of those who have longed to reduce electrical bills, then be aware that these sources of energy come in a several types. These include the following:

Hydropower:

This is said to be the largest among the many sources of renewable energy. At present, about 77,000 megawatts of hydropower are available and this is enough to provide energy to up to thirty-five million households. The production of hydropower actually involves the conversion of flowing water into a more usable form of energy.

Among the major sources of hydropower are lakes and rivers. The water from rivers and lakes is released with the help of turbines to promote energy production. The hydropower system is considered as the cleanest source of energy because it is free from elements that can cause pollution. It also works in reducing or fully eliminating the cost of fuel.

Wind Energy:

This is capable of producing up to two thousand five hundred megawatts of energy, comprising one percent of the total energy consumption in the US. Wind power is produced by using wind turbines that are usually installed or mounted on top of a tower to convert wind energy into electricity.

Presently, wind power is already used in large-scale wind farms as a means of supporting national electrical grids. Wind energy also works effectively in supplying electricity to those who are living in the rural areas.

This renewable source of energy is beneficial because it is widely available, free and provides a sufficient amount of energy. It is also incapable of producing wastes and other harmful greenhouse gases. It does not need fuel to run and is proven to be an effective method in providing power to those who are living in remote areas. The only problem about using this source of energy is that it produces a lot of noise when in use and requires you to spend high on installation.

Biomass Energy and Power:

This refers to the power or energy derived from plants and other materials that are based on plants including grassy and woody plants, food crops, organic components of industrial and municipal wastes and agricultural and forestry residues. Biomass power is capable of providing two valuable services to the public.

The first one is that it works as the second most effective and important provider of renewable energy particularly in the US and the second one is that it plays a vital role in improving the performance of the waste management infrastructure in a country.

Krafla geothermal power station
Krafla geothermal power station | Source

Geothermal Energy:

This refers to the power produced by harnessing heat from the Earth’s interior. Areas with high underground temperatures are those where geologically young and active volcanoes are located.

The main sources of geothermal energy are magma or molten rock, hot dry rock, geo-pressure which can be defined as methane-saturated water produced after putting in tremendous pressure and hydrothermal which refers to steam or water coming from fissures and geysers.

Different methods are used when it comes to generating energy from the heat of the Earth’s interior or surface.

One method is called geothermal electricity production which involves the process of deriving electricity from the heat of the earth with the help of a turbine rotated by a steam to activate the generator. Another method is called the geothermal direct use which involves the direct production of heat from the hot water produced by the inner surface of the earth.

Geothermal heat pump is also another method used in generating electricity and this works by utilizing the shallow ground as a means of heating and cooling buildings.

Solar Energy:

Solar technologies take advantage of the heat of the sun to provide light, heat, electricity, hot water and cooling for businesses, industries and homes. But despite the effectiveness of the sun when it comes to supplying energy, solar power is still said to be less than one percent of the energy needs of US residents. This percentage, however, can be expected to increase over the coming years after newer and more effective solar technologies are developed.

If you are thinking of using solar power to reduce your electric bills, then be aware that this renewable source of energy uses various kinds of solar collectors in order to meet the different electricity and energy needs of users. There are passive solar building designs that can be used effectively in capturing the heat of the sun and provide sufficient amount of light and heat within a space. Photovoltaic cells are also available and these are primarily designed to directly convert sunlight into electricity.

Concentrated solar power systems are also available and these are extremely useful in producing a high-intensity source of heat by focusing sunlight using mirrors. This results to the production of mechanical power or steam which is useful in running a generator capable of creating electricity.

You may also find flat plate collectors that work perfectly in directly absorbing the heat of the sun into water or any other fluid in order to produce space heating or hot water. Solar process cooling and heating systems are also available and these systems take advantage of more specialized chemical processes and solar collectors as a means of meeting the heating, cooling and hot water needs of large-scale industries.

Advantages of Solar Power when it Comes to Reducing Energy Consumption!

Among the five different renewable sources of energy mentioned above, the solar power is considered to be the most beneficial especially when it comes to reducing your energy consumption. It is a wise investment considering the many benefits that it can provide as soon as it is installed in your home. Here are just few of the many benefits of a solar panel:

  1. Significant Reduction in Electricity Bills: If you are planning to save a substantial amount on your electricity bills, then it is highly recommended for you to go solar. Solar technology is extremely beneficial because of its ability to lock in lower and more predictable electricity cost in comparison to the increasing utility rates. In fact, you can expect a reduction of as much as sixty percent depending on where the solar panel is installed and where you are living. The amount of savings that you can get will also be dependent on the total electric usage of all the members of your household and the specific size of your solar panel. Solar technology is also a major help in your attempt to protect yourself against the increasing cost of energy.
  2. It does not cause pollution: Aside from significantly reducing the amount of your electricity bills, another great benefit of solar power is that it does not cause pollution. Its ability to work without causing any pollution is one of the major reasons why it is more practical in comparison to oil. It is better than fossil fuels because it does not release any harmful carcinogens, carbon dioxide and greenhouses into the air.
  3. It adds value to your property: The installation of solar energy system into your property is extremely important when it comes to increasing its value since there is a huge increase in the number of people who are looking for energy-efficient properties. The solar energy system increases the appeal and efficiency of your residential property, making it saleable at a higher amount and giving you and the future owners of it a guarantee when it comes to enjoying lower energy cost.
  4. It does not produce any noise: If you are hesitant about buying a solar panel because you are worried that it is one of those systems that produce a lot of noise when in use, then rest assured that this system silently operates. You won’t hear a single sound from it once it starts to extract energy from the heat of the sun.
  5. You won’t spend a lot of money on maintenance: Solar panels require little maintenance and you can expect their cells to run without any moving parts so their chances of getting damaged are very minimal. Solar cells are also said to have greater longevity even with their little maintenance.

14 Effective Ways to Reduce Your Energy Costs!

Aside from the solar panel and the other renewable sources of energy, there are a few things that you can do when it comes to reducing the cost of your electricity bills. This means that you do not always need to seek the help of experts in the field of reducing electricity bills just to get your desired savings. Here are just some of the many things that you can do at home to finally cut your energy cost:

1. Address the biggest electricity users among the many electronic devices and appliances present within your home. Among those appliances that tend to consume too much electricity are air conditioning / heating, washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerator, lighting, tumble dryers and water heating. Consider limiting your use of the said electronic appliances in order for you to enjoy greater savings on electricity.

2. Avoid leaving your television or any other appliances in your home on standby mode. Electronic devices that are left on standby can still consume up to ninety percent power. If you tend to forget turning off your appliances, then it is advisable for you to buy a PowerSaver device as this works in automatically cutting the power in electronics when they are already on the standby mode.

3. Arrange a regular HVAC inspection. What you need to do is to hire a legitimate and certified technician who can do annual checkup on the ventilation, heating and air-conditioning system of your home. This will allow you to determine if there are damages in the system that cause your electric bills to immediately increase. Bear in mind that leaking ducts and any other damages in your electrical appliances may cause your bills to go up by as much as twenty percent so having all these checked regularly is a major help in reducing your bills.

4. Seal your house. Cooled air that goes into your home through cracks along door frames and windows may cause your electricity bills to rise so you should consider investing in materials that will plug the drafts. It is important for you to properly seal and insulate your home as this works effectively in improving your energy efficiency by twenty percent all year round.

5. Unplug all electronic appliances and gadgets that are no longer in use. You have to unplug even the smallest items including your microwave and cell phone charger if you are no longer using them as these generate heat if they are attached to an effective source of power. You have to make sure that you unplug everything even the smallest appliances if you want to enjoy huge savings in your electricity bills.

6. Start using compact fluorescent lamps or CFL’s. In comparison to traditional bulbs, these lamps take lesser amount of energy. Aside from that, you can also expect CFL’s and the compact fluorescent lamps to last longer than traditional bulbs. This allows you to save more since you no longer need to spend on regular replacements.

7. Research about the many things that you can do to reduce your electricity consumption when using your refrigerator. One tip when it comes to properly using your refrigerator without consuming too much electricity is to allow your foods to cool down before storing them into your fridge. If you put warm foods into your refrigerator, then more electricity will be used in cooling them down. It is also important for you to make sure that the door of your refrigerator is properly closed and sealed. If it is open, then it will consume more energy because it will try to cool down your entire room.

  • Another tip when it comes to properly using your fridge is to defrost it regularly especially the freezer. This is a huge help in maintaining the good condition of your unit while also reducing its electricity consumption. It is also advisable for you to avoid putting your freezer or fridge next or close to a hot device like a heater as this might cause it to experience difficulty in cooling and preserving your foods at the correct temperature. This might cause your unit to waste more energy and trigger carbon dioxide emission.

8. Closely scrutinize the insulation within your home. Bear in mind that exterior walls and crawlspaces that have poor insulation may cause cool or warm air to escape. This might cause your air conditioner or furnace to have a difficult time maintaining a more comfortable temperature within your home. If you realize that your home is in need of a better insulation, then you should seek the help of a professional in the field. You have to hire someone who knows exactly how to assess the problematic areas and provide reasonably priced solutions to maintain the warmness or coolness in your home during the winter or summer season.

9. Look for appliances that are energy-efficient. If you own outdated appliances, then you should consider replacing them with the newer models that are guaranteed to be energy-efficient. Consider looking for those appliances that carry the label Energy Star as this guarantees that the units are capable of performing their individual functions efficiently while also allowing you to save up to seventy-five percent on electricity.

10. Install smarter switches. Motion or occupancy sensors work by automatically turning your lights on and off so you get the chance to only pay for the specific amount of light that you consume. The use of motion sensors allows you to save as much as one hundred dollars every year. Most of these motion sensors are available with a manual turn on capability while having the ability to turn the light off automatically. You may also buy timers that work effectively in controlling bath fans. This is effective when it comes to setting the length of time which you want your fan to operate. But you have to make sure that you check the label before buying the timer so you can pick that which is rated for motors and not just for lighting.

11. Buy a digital programmable thermostat to replace the one which you are currently using. This is extremely useful in your attempt to reduce your electricity bills as you can expect this to work in allowing you to save as much as three hundred dollars per year. The digital programmable thermostat works in preventing your air conditioner from turning on when you are out of your home or at work.

12. Install a water heater timer. If you keep your electric water heater running for twenty-four hours a day, then you are wasting too much energy. To help you deal with this problem, you should consider installing an electronic water heater timer switch into the device. You can expect to find timers that can work perfectly for either the 120-volt or the 240-volt heater. An advantage of having this timer around is that you can program it to fit your daily or weekly schedules and this is a huge help in heating water only when you need it. You can expect to save twenty-five dollars per year if you use the timer.

13. Wash clothes on a full load. This means that you should avoid using your washing machine each time you have a new pile of dirty clothes. You have to consider waiting until you have enough dirty clothes to fill your washing machine. You can also expect to reduce your consumption of electricity if you use cold water when washing your clothes through the appliance.

14. Request for an energy audit for free. You can request your local energy company to do the energy audit for free. The major purpose of the audit is to review your electricity consumption. The representative from your local energy company will then provide you a list of solutions to reduce the cost of your electricity after the audit.

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Conclusion:

Despite the extremely high cost of energy consumption in the US at present, note that there are still a few things that you can do to save a substantial amount on your electricity bills.

  • You can use solar panels or any other renewable source of energy as these are proven to cost less.
  • You may also follow the tips mentioned above as those are proven to be effective when it comes to cutting down your electrical consumption.
  • It is also advisable for you to educate yourself about the specific amount of electricity consumed by each of your appliances. This is a huge help in determining which among your present home appliances require the most attention.
  • You should also inform all the members of your household about the things that they can do to save more on electricity. Being an informed user can make a huge difference when it comes to saving on energy cost.

What Can You Do Today To Save Energy and Save Money?

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