How Homes Consume Energy

— Written By N.C. Cooperative Extension

How you heat and cool your home is a major decider in how much energy your home consumes. Having efficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) appliances allows for less energy to be lost in the process. If replacing your current appliances is not within your budget at this time, consider some low and moderate initial cost methods to conserve energy.

Appliances and lighting account for the next largest energy consumer in your household. Plugging electronics into power strips that can be turned “off” and “on” saves around 15 percent of your annual energy use. When the strips are turned off you can decrease the amount of “standby power” electronic devices, like televisions and radios, use so that they may be turned “instantly on”.

Replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs is also an easy way to reduce the energy consumption in your home.

Think about these Energy Savings Quick Facts

•    Compact Fluorescent lights use one-fourth the amount of electricity that incandescent lamps use, and they last seven times longer.

•    Turning the dishwasher off just before the drying cycle saves at least half the power consumed in a normal cycle. In hot weather, this reduction of heat in the home will ease the air conditioner load.

•    Energy Star-rated appliances use up to 50 percent less energy than other appliances

•    The refrigerator is the most expensive home appliance to use, next to the heating and cooling system. The cost of running an Energy Star-rated refrigerator is less than the cost of running a 75 watt light bulb

•    Keep a freezer filled to capacity for most efficient operation. Frozen food can retain cold much better than air — so the freezer uses less energy than if it is nearly empty. However, do allow for air circulation within the freezer.

•    The average household spends $35 every year on appliances they think are "off".

North Carolina Cooperation Extension offers a variety of consumer resources about housing and energy conservation on the Internet at  Burke Extension Center will be offering energy conservation workshops and home audits for homeowners in the near future.

Eleanor Summers
Extension Agent
Family & Consumer Sciences