Current methods of electrical energy generation consume large amounts of non-renewable resources and emit considerable pollution into our environment. Consequently, there has been a recent increase in the public interest in reducing our individual and collective “global footprint,” or demand on scarce ecological resources.
How America stacks up
Roughly four fifths of the world’s population currently has access to electricity. This figure represents a considerable increase than comparable figures of just a decade ago. Despite this increased global electricity access, usage patterns and levels vary widely from nation to nation, however.For instance, the World Energy Council recently found that the average Canadian and American household consumed about twenty times the amount of electricity than a typical Nigerian household and 2 to 3 times as much as a typical European household. Several factors contribute to these broad differentials. These include physical housing size, relative living standards, and availability of alternative cooking and cooling fuels.
Per a 2011 survey by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (“EIA”), the average residential utility customer consumed 11,280 kilowatts of electricity. This represents an average of 940 kilowatt hours per month. The State of Maine had the lowest consumption level at 6,252 kilowatts per year, while Louisiana had the highest consumption level of 16,176 kilowatts.Per a 2008 survey of the U.S. Department of Energy, the average U.S. household’s yearly energy usage was comprised as follows:
- Heating and cooling – 13,200 kilowatt hours
- Lighting – 1,200 kilowatt hours
- Cooking – 1,000 kilowatt hours
- Washing/Drying – 1,000 kilowatt hours
- Miscellaneous electric
- loads – 600 kilowatt hours
The above figures represent an average monthly energy consumption rate of about 1400 kilowatt hours for an American family of four. At an average cost of 12 cents per kilowatt hours, this translates into about $170 USD per month.
Indoor Temperature Control
The above data makes it apparent that the vast majority of U.S. energy consumption is expended on heating and cooling. Thus, those concerned about reducing their global footprint and saving on energy costs must concentrate their efforts in this area.Making wise choices about your home’s heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (“HVAC”) systems have a tremendous impact on your utility bills, comfort, and overall electric energy consumption. Following are some tips to increase your HVAC system’s efficiency:
Change Air Filters Frequently
Regardless of whether you have a window, split, or central air conditioning unit, check the filters at least monthly. Change the filter at least every three months. Dirty or clogged filters obstruct airflow and cause the unit to use up more energy to keep you cool or warm. You also prevent dirt and dust particles from accumulating in the system by regular air filter changes, thereby avoiding costly maintenance bills and premature system failure.
Tune up HVAC Systems Annually
Most people know that regular auto tune-ups help increase gas mileage considerably. Likewise, annual heat and air conditioning system tune-ups help enhance equipment efficiency.
Programmable Thermostat Installation
Programmable thermostats are perfect for those who spend significant time away from home on a regular basis. Wise use of preprogrammed settings can save you about $15 USD per month in electric bills.
Seal Heat and Cooling Ducts
Heat pumps and ducts that convey air to and away from forced air furnaces are typically huge energy wasters. Insulating and sealing ducts help increase HVAC system efficiency by up to 20 percent or more.
Consider Installing Energy Star Equipment
If your HVAC system is over ten years old or no longer keeps your home comfortable, seek an expert evaluation by a licensed HVAC professional. If your unit is inefficient or needs upgrading, replace it with one that has earned the Energy Star seal. Energy Star-certified equipment can reduce your yearly energy costs by $200 USD or more.
Proper Installation is Crucial
Although outdated HVAC system replacement with more modern, efficient models is an excellent starting point, be sure that it is properly installed in order to ensure best performance. Indeed, statistics reveal that incompetent installation can cut equipment efficiency by nearly one-third or more – thereby defeating the purpose of its acquisition.
Rachel is a blogger for Trademark Home Services, a plumbing, hvac, and electrical company in Richmon, TX that specializes in insulation, duct cleaning, and ac repair. Image source.