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Energy Use in the Home
As energy prices increase, more and more EMEC members are examining how they use energy. Given below is some recent information about energy use in the average home.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 44 percent of the average home’s energy use goes toward heating and cooling. Another 14 percent goes toward water heating, and refrigeration accounts for 9 percent. The remaining 33 percent accounts for all of the remaining appliances.
*These percentage figures are from the Department of Energy report Energy Savers, Tips On Saving Energy & Money at Home, available at on-line www.eere.energy.gov
The appliance chart below is a guideline for figuring out how a home uses energy. These figures are based on estimated electricity use by a family of four.
Note: These ranges of energy use are given as guidelines only, and they are not intended to suggest that a certain appliance will not use more or less energy than is shown. Estimates are based on usage by a family of four, but the range may include differences in appliance sizes and brands. Since the early- to mid-1990s, some appliance manufacturers have made great strides in improving energy efficiency. For that reason, some of the ranges of use can be fairly dramatic.
*When shopping for these appliances, shoppers may compare brands and models by using the EnergyGuide labels, which give information on energy efficiency.
Due to recent improvements in energy efficiency, new large appliances such as refrigerators can pay for themselves relatively quickly through energy cost savings.
Beyond the purchase of efficient appliances, heating and cooling changes make the biggest differences in reducing electric bills. Timers on heating and air conditioning, for instance, are energy savers if the whole family is gone during the day. With a timer, the home can be cool or warm when the family arrives home. At night, a timer can also be set to turn the heat down at bedtime.
Maine summer nights are usually cool enough that the air conditioner could be turned off at bedtime and the windows opened. Even if a fan is used to circulate the outside air, the savings can be measurable.
The (by now) common call to "turn off the lights when you leave the room" is still helpful, but lighting is a small part of the average residential electric bill. It saves more energy to cut back on dryer use by hanging out the laundry to dry during warmer weather.
Admittedly, some attempts at conserving energy are not worth the nuisance, but it is up to each consumer to decide what measures are worth the trouble. Here are some appliance-related suggestions for saving energy.
Be sure refrigerator and freezer seals are working. If a dollar bill is closed in the door of the refrigerator, there should be some resistance when it is pulled out. It should not slide right through the seal.
If possible, move the refrigerator and/or freezer where they will not be next to sources of heat such as the stove or oven. Only twenty percent of energy loss from refrigerators results from opening and closing the door. The rest results from interaction with the warmth of the kitchen itself.
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