January 25, 2010

Easy Resolutions to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

By James Stevenson, Sustainability Educator, Pinellas County Extension

Part III: Plug Load and Phantom Power Load

In previous articles, we have looked at ways to save energy and money by helping the biggest users of electricity, the HVAC system and water heater, operate more efficiently. The chart on the right shows the break-down of an average home’s energy use. What we will concentrate on in this article is the overall draw of power from various appliances (Plug Load,) and the mysterious and slow-killer, Phantom Power Load.

These two factors can represent up to 25% of your home’s energy consumption. Therefore any savings that can be made could make quite a difference on your electric bill.

Plug Load
We’ll start with appliances, and the amount of energy they draw. Older appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers, clothes washers, room air conditioners, etc. may not be as energy efficient as newer models. This is due in part to newer, energy efficient technology and to the inefficiencies that build-up in any appliance over time. By now you may have purchased a new, energy-efficient refrigerator several times over, simply by adding up the wasted energy you’ve already paid for! The extra refrigerator in the garage could possibly be the older one from inside that started being less efficient and thus was banished to the hottest, dirtiest room of the house—creating a situation where it has to work even harder (that is, draw much more electricity) to keep those Diet Cokes cool!

If it is time to replace an old appliance, (and there are incentives right around the corner) please consider these three different cost factors when looking at the price—which is, for most of us, the deal maker/breaker.
1. Purchase Price – OK, this one is pretty easy to understand. Refrigerator A costs $X and Refrigerator B costs $2X and is more energy efficient. It is likely that many of you may say “let’s get the cheaper one and go home” but did you consider the “hidden”

2. Upkeep Cost – Have you heard the expression “you get what you pay for?” Of course you have. And it is true. A quality-built appliance will generally have much lower maintenance costs. Items like refrigerators tend to choose the worst possible moment
to break-down (like the eve of a holiday with the whole family coming…sound familiar?)

3. Energy and Water Costs – These costs will certainly not be DECREASING in the near (or distant) future, so preparing now for increased utility rates makes quite a lot of sense. Look for the EnergyStar®
and Florida Water Star™ logos when making an appliance purchase to ensure you are buying a product that will perform to your highest expectations AND use fewer resources.

In April of this year, the Florida Energy and Climate Commission will begin a two-week Florida EnergyStar® Appliance Rebate Program. This short-lived program will allow for a 20% rebate on the purchase price of an EnergyStar® rated appliance. For more information on this exciting offer, see our Thinking Green post from December 1, 2009.

Phantom Power
For some reason, over the past twenty years or so, manufacturers of electronic equipment and gadgets have included little red and green lights on their products. They don’t really DO anything, except let you know they are on. How very convenient! Not. What all these little lights ARE doing, however, is using your money to light your way around the house in the middle of the night. No thanks. If you are not using a piece of equipment, then unplug it. You’ll KNOW it is off then! Use a power strip to make turning several pieces of equipment off at once. Make a ritual of slaying the energy phantoms (or “Vampires” as they are called) every night before bed.

"Energy vampires are everywhere in your home," said Bill Eberle, Efficiency and Innovative Technology Analyst for Progress Energy Florida. "And they are using energy 24 hours a day, which can add up quickly to five percent of your monthly energy bill."

We hope you have learned a few energy efficiency tips in these last few articles. We will continue to bring you the latest news and research-based information to help you make decisions about your home’s energy use and how to make the most of opportunities available.

Join us February 20 for Solar Power in the Sunshine State. Doug Gregory, UF/IFAS Monroe County Extension Specialist will provide an overview of solar technology and how to decide if it is the right choice for you. On March 20, we will host experts from Progress Energy who will explain the various incentives, rebates and credits available from the company to make energy efficient changes to your home. Pinellas County extension specialists will provide information on state and federal incentives as well. Sigh up for either class by visiting our online registration site


Energy Efficient Homes: Appliances in General -

My Florida Home Book 2.7: Saving Energy in the Home -

Progress Energy Warns Against Energy Vampires -

No comments:

Post a Comment