The amount of energy we use in our homes mainly depends on the climate where we live and the types and number of energy consuming devices we use. The number and variety of ways we use energy in homes is changing rapidly. Energy use for air conditioning has doubled since 1980.
U.S. households currently plug in more appliances and electronics at home than ever before. While refrigerators and cooking equipment have long been standard in homes, the ownership of appliances such as microwaves, dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers has increased over the past 30 years.
It is increasingly common for homes to use multiple televisions, computers and many other home electronics. As a result of these changes, appliances and electronics (including refrigerators) now account for nearly one-third of all energy used in homes.
Natural gas and electricity, the most-consumed energy sources in U.S. homes, is followed by heating oil and propane. Electricity, which is used for heating and cooling, also lights our homes and runs almost all of our appliances including refrigerators, toasters, computers and other electronic devices.
Energy efficiency means using less energy to provide the same level of energy services. Here are some great examples of way to reduce the use of energy.
Unplug your appliances when they're not in use.
Replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs and purchasing energy-efficient appliances and electronic equipment is helpful.
Insulating your roof and/or ceiling will help keep your home a pleasant temperature in summer and winter. It saves you money on energy bills and pays for itself over a relatively short time.
During hot summer days shading your windows will help to keep the heat out, and on cold nights curtains or blinds help to keep the heat in.
If you have an air conditioner, try to use it only on really hot or humid days, and if you expect a hot day, pre-empt the heat rather than waiting until your home is already hot. Look for programmable timer and thermostat controls. Each 1°C increase of the thermostat setting will save about 10% on your energy usage.
Upgrade your shower head to a water-efficient shower head. These are great water-saving devices for daily use.
The average household emits around 14 tonnes of greenhouse gases every year, half of which is from electricity generation. This contributes to climate change and global warming. One simple and relatively cheap way that we can all start to make a difference is by switching our electricity to "green" power. This means using power generated from clean renewable sources such as the sun, wind, water and waste power, rather than coal. Green power is available to all households and generally costs are only slightly more than standard electricity.