Thursday, February 3, 2011

Breaking It Down

The average home in the TVA region uses more than 15,000 kilowatt hours of energy per year. Here's how that power was used in 2008, the latest year for which a detailed list is available.

Kitchen appliances 23.2%
Water heating 18.8%
Air conditioning 17.9%
Heating 13.5%
Plug load * 10.3%
Laundry 7.2%
Lighting 6.1%
Other equipment 3.0%

* Electronics and small appliances


Let's put the percentages into perspective. You can clearly see that turning off the lights is not enough to make a dent in your utility bill. At 6.1% of your overall usage, it's pretty low. Still turn them off when not in use, and use energy saving CFLs, but plan to do more than that if you want to save money.

Taken together, heating and air conditioning account for 31.4% of all of your utility costs. That is why we recommended 68 (or lower) in the winter and 78 (or higher) in the summer. Adjusting your thermostat is the #1 way to reduce your utility bill. Buy a programmable thermostat and let it do the work for you.

(It should also be noted that insulating your house and sealing cracks is the best way to keep that expensive air conditioning and heating inside your home!)

Also, look at the water heater--18.8%. All those hot showers, loads of laundry and dishes add up. Take a 5 minute shower, wash full loads of clothes in cold, and wash dishes by hand. Or, just adjust your water heater setting to 120 degrees or low. When you leave town, put it on vacation mode. Buy a tankless water heater when it's time to replace the old one.

If you add up the lights, the plug load (electronics and small appliances) and other equipment, it's 19.4%. So in addition to turning off the lights--turn off the TV and computers, use power strips, and unplug small appliances that don't get used very often.

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