Plan Your Hidden Electric Load Reduction Project Carefully
Minimize the impact of hidden electric loads on your electric bill by considering the options on the following list! These common issues typically play a role in high electric costs.
Inefficient Heating System
Heating systems, such as furnaces, often utilize large fans that circulates air around a home. This fan can be expensive to run if it runs a significant number of hours. In some cases, homeowners set the furnace fan to run continuously for air distribution purposes. This definitely increases your electric bill. Or, for homes that contain a high air exchange rate and need insulation, the furnace fan runs much of the day trying to condition your home. Improving the overall efficiency of your home’s insulation and air tightness level helps reduce the electric use of your furnace distribution fan and lowers your electric bill.
Inefficient Cooling System
Cooling systems such as central air conditions, single package units and window air conditioners run much of the day cooling air in your home during the summer. Improving the overall efficiency of your home’s insulation and air tightness level helps reduce the electric consumption of your home’s cooling system. In addition, central air conditioners are rated for efficiency in terms of SEER or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. GreenHomes recommends central air conditioners maintain a 15 SEER efficiency rating or higher when replacing an older air conditioning system. This helps reduce your electric bill.
Swimming pool pumps often run continuously during the summer months. The pool pumps, running at full speed, can be expensive to operate. Many new variable speed or 2-speed pool pumps are available that slow the speed of the pump down to save on electricity. Also, leverage timers, which limits the number of hours your pool pump runs, which helps save money.
Many homeowners utilize space heaters or electric heating blankets during the winter. These heaters, often 1,500 watts, consume a lot of energy. Improving the overall efficiency of your home’s insulation and air tightness level helps reduce the need for electric space heaters and heating blankets.
Most heat pump heating systems utilize an electric resistance backup heating system that consumes lots of energy (and expenses). This back-up heating system is energized whenever the desired room temperature (the set-point temperature) is several degrees above the actual room temperature. This often happens when homeowners set the temperature back at night and then raise it (either automatically or manually) during the day. Heat pumps require special thermostats to minimize the use of the electric resistance to save money on their electric bills during the winter. Or, if homeowners don’t have a thermostat designed for use with heat pumps, they should minimize using a night setback until the proper thermostat can be installed.
Dehumidifiers squeeze water from the surrounding to lower the moisture content. They accomplish this by cooling the air and then reheating it again. The cooling process (like an air conditioner does) causes the moisture in the air to condense into liquid which dries the air out. This dehumidification process uses more electricity than most people realize. Dehumidifiers that are run continuously will increase electric bills. Do not run dehumidifiers unless the conditions in the home require it. To try to lessen the amount of water intrusion into the home, homeowners should consider installing gutters or water drainage systems which can reduce the need for dehumidification.
Well pumps that run a significant number of hours for watering lawns or irrigation can significantly impact electric bills. Avoid over-watering lawns and gardens to save on well pump energy use.
Hot tubs can have electric pumps for filtration and electric heating elements to heat the water. All electric hot tubs or Jacuzzis will have a rather large impact on electric bills (especially in the wintertime). Insulated covers combined with managing the number of hours of operation for the electric heaters and pumps will save large amounts of electricity.
Electric Water Heaters
Electric water heaters are used every day of the year. If the amount of hot water use is high, electric hot water heaters will increase the electric bill each month. Reducing hot water consumption where possible with electric water heaters will lower your electric bill.
The electric consumption of an incandescent lightbulb is small compared to pumps, fans or electric heaters. However, most homes have a large number of lightbulbs. If a home is still using incandescent lightbulbs and the homeowner uses many of them for several hours a day, the electric bills will be higher. Switching to LED lightbulbs will offer immediate and significant savings on electric hills.
If you are looking to lower your entire electric bill beyond just evaluating hidden electric loads or you have hidden electric loads that you can’t identify, GreenHomes recommends getting a quality energy audit. When done properly, an energy audit will pinpoint the true sources of energy waste in your home from hidden electric loads. The energy audit will be your roadmap or plan for creating a more comfortable, energy efficient home.
Common Questions about Energy Audits by Homeowners:
- Why is a quality energy audit a smart place to start?
- What does an energy audit include?
- What does an energy audit cost?
- Is a Free Energy Audit Worth doing?
- What are 10 questions I should ask an energy auditor before I hire them?
- How do I find a qualified energy auditor?
- What is my Role as the Homeowner during an Energy Audit?
- What information should I learn from my energy audit?
Remember, a high-quality Home Energy Audit provides a critical step for determining your project for creating a more comfortable home. However, the energy audit by itself doesn’t improve the conditions of the home at all. Only actually installing the prioritized recommendations lowers your heating cooling costs and makes your home feel more comfortable.