Very few of us pass up an opportunity to save money. Be it in the form of a coupon that comes in the mail, a percentage discount given for signing up for a new promotion or an item purchased secondhand instead of new, taking advantage of money-saving opportunities is par for the course for many of us.
But where some of us drop the ball on saving money is when the payout comes over time instead of in the form of an instant discount. It’s easy to scan the coupon on your smartphone but not so easy to have new windows installed to cut back on your energy bills. Nor are many of us willing to purchase new energy-efficient appliances when our older, non-Energy Star rated ones are working just fine.
Eligible homeowners in the EPB and Volunteer Energy Cooperative service areas qualify for the eScore program, which is a free home evaluation program that looks at a home’s specific energy needs. In some cases, owners qualify for cash incentives for installing energy-saving improvements. Call 423-648-1EPB or 855-237-2673 for more information.
"We give advice on the best ways to save energy in their particular house," Epperson said.
However, there are other ways to cut energy costs without incurring large costs from having new equipment and appliances installed. Below are the most expensive home appliances to operate, so you can be mindful of when and how you are using them.
Heating and cooling
Unsurprisingly, maintaining a comfortable temperature in your home is about the most expensive thing to do.
"It is estimated that heating and cooling account for as much as 55 percent of our annual energy cost," Greg Epperson, EPB engineering tech, said.
Heating uses more energy than cooling because we experience more hours of heating use and a greater temperature difference, Epperson said.
"If we are keeping our homes at 68 degrees and it is 20 degrees outside, the heat transfer to outside is much greater than in the summer when we are keeping our houses at 75 and it is 95 outside," he said.
Upping or lowering thermostat temps, depending on the season, is one of the best ways to keep your electric bill in check (short of having a more energy-friendly system installed).
It varies from home to home, depending on the number of gallons used, but water heaters are huge consumers of energy.
"The water heater can account for as much as 15–20 percent of annual energy use," Epperson said.
Running full loads in the dishwasher, washing clothes in cold water when possible, limiting shower time and fixing leaks are all important ways to help keep this figure down. You should also make sure your temperature setting is not well above standard—which is 120 degrees. If yours is hotter than that, it’s consuming more energy.
For homes without outdoor hot tubs and swimming pools, refrigerators and freezers are the next-biggest consumers of energy. Refrigerators, along with washing machines and dishwashers, are an important appliance to purchase with an Energy Star rating. If your fridge/freezer does not already have this label, make sure the next one you purchase does to help you save money on your bill. There’s really no compromising on storing food at proper temperatures, so this is an area of energy savings that requires a larger investment with a longer payoff.
The extra expense on electricity bills caused by lighting typically comes when lights or fans are in continuous use.
"Remember to turn off any light that is not used, and do not use ceiling fans or any fan unless the occupant can feel the effects," Epperson said. "You are wasting energy if you have fans or lights in operation in a house when no one is there."
But overhead lights and lamps are also one of the easiest ways to save on energy costs because of the variety of LED and fluorescent light bulbs available. They cost only slightly more than traditional light bulbs yet last longer and show you immediate savings on your energy bills when used in all the light sockets in your home.
John Pless is the public relations coordinator at EPB.