Your house uses a lot of energy. Evaluating its efficiency offers opportunities for reducing energy use and saving you money.

Ever look at your utility bill and notice that graph where your home’s energy use is compared to other homes in your neighborhood? Maybe your home uses significantly more energy that your neighbors’. But that doesn’t necessarily mean your neighbor is keeping the heat at 60 degrees all winter in an effort to reverse Global Warming. Each house’s energy use is unique and based on a variety of factors that can’t be addressed by simply adjusting the thermostat. The details revolve around how energy efficient, or energy inefficient, your home is.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, energy use in the average home breaks down as follows:

  1. Heating (42 percent)
  2. Appliances, electronics and lighting (30 percent)
  3. Water heating (18 percent)
  4. Air conditioning (6 percent)
  5. Refrigeration (5 percent)

As indicated, nearly half of the average home’s annual energy use is expended in heating and cooling interior spaces. Better insulation could potentially reduce energy used for these purposes, especially in non-updated older homes. But there also are lots of other things that can have an impact without costing a lot of time or money:

  • Install a programmable thermostat if your home doesn’t already have one. Studies show this could reduce annual heating and cooling energy use by ten percent.
  • Use curtains and blinds to let in the sun on cold days and keep it out on hot days.
  • Seal windows and doors. Studies show the typical home loses 25 percent of its heat through windows.
  • Reduce water heating. Lower the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees. Install low-flow shower heads. Wash clothes in cold water.
  • Reduce use of your clothes dryer. Strategies to accomplish this include using the fastest spin cycle on your clothes washer to extract the most water possible, and line-drying items either inside or outdoors.
  • Use LED light bulbs. Today’s energy-efficient light bulbs are much better than they were just five years ago. You can get the same quality of soft white light while cutting energy use by 90 percent. These bulbs also last for decades as opposed to months.
  • Eliminate “vampire” devices. From computers to phone chargers to stereos, today’s electronics are often “on” even when they’re “off.” Turn your computer off when it’s not in use, unplug those phone charges and use power strips with on/off switches for devices like stereos and TVs.

Reducing the amount of energy your home uses yields immediate personal gains for your pocketbook. And the more people who do their part to reduce their energy use, the better off we all are as increases in energy production, and the pollution the process generates, are kept to a minimum.