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Have you ever received your energy bill and wondered which appliances use the most energy? Don’t worry – you’re not alone. A few years ago, after being away for a somewhat lengthy trip, I arrived home to a typical energy bill. I was surprised because I expected a lower bill after being away from home, so I began a search for some answers. 

Home heating and cooling adds up

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), a typical U.S. home spends more than $2,000 annually on energy bills, and on average, more than half of household energy consumption is for just two energy end uses: space heating and air conditioning. This shows the importance of adjusting the thermostat when you’re away because it truly makes a difference on monthly bills.

Water heaters tend to be the third- largest energy user at 13%, followed by lighting, which usually accounts for about 12.5% of the average energy bill.

These insights can help you better understand and control your energy consumption. I’ve been able to save money by using helpful devices like smart thermostats, water heater controllers and smart power strips to control my energy consumption.

Factors affecting energy use

Several factors affect the amount of energy a household uses, including geographic location and climate, the number of people in the home, the type of home and its physical characteristics. The efficiency of energy-consuming devices and the amount of time they are used also impact home energy consumption.

Six tips to save energy and money
  1. Use ENERGY STAR®-rated appliances and devices.
  2. Replace old, inefficient equipment. If your air conditioner, furnace or water heater is more than 10 years old, it is likely using a lot more energy than necessary. A newer model will save you money in the long run.
  3. Use appliances with efficiency in mind. Only wash full loads of clothes or dishes, and cook with smaller, countertop appliances instead of the oven when possible.
  4. Set your thermostat. When you’re in the home and active, the Department of Energy recommends setting it to 78 degrees in the summer and 68 degrees in the winter. 
  5. Use energy-efficient LED bulbs. They use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs and last 25 times longer.
  6. Plug electronics into a smart power strip. This allows you to designate “always on” for devices that need to maintain network connection, while cutting power from devices like speakers and TVs when they are not in use.

In addition to the tips shared above, consider using real-time energy monitors to help identify faulty appliances or other problems that might run unnoticed for extended periods of time, leading to high energy bills.

With a little extra attention to how you use energy in your home, you’ll be well on your way to a path of energy savings and lower energy bills. 

Tolu Omotoso is the director of energy solutions at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives.

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