Home energy emissions make up nearly 40% of the average American's carbon footprint, which is why it's imperative that we mitigate our electricity and home energy use to both curb our CO2 emissions and save ourselves money.
Below are facts on home energy usage in the average American home, followed by a list of quick and simple actions you can take to reduce your home energy footprint. Check out this post for lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your energy footprint.
Annual home energy consumption
The average American home consumes the following energy per year, according to the EPA:
- 11,764 kWh of electricity
- 37,517 cubic feet of natural gas
- 45.8 gallons of liquid petroleum
- 29.1 gallons of fuel oil
Annual home energy emissions
Based on the above, the average US home generates 16,700 pounds of CO2e from home energy per year.
Annual home energy usage
How energy is used in homes, according to Energy Information Administration:
- 5% of home energy usage goes toward refrigeration
- 26% of home energy usage goes toward lighting and appliances
- 20% goes toward water heating
- Nearly 50% goes toward heating and air conditioning
Annual cost savings from switching to renewable energy
The average American could save over $1,400 per year in electricity costs alone (assuming electricity costs $0.12/kWh on average) by switching to renewable energy.
How to Reduce your Home Energy Footprint
#1 - Sign up for Arcadia Power
By signing up for Arcadia Power and connecting it to your current energy provider account, you can source 50% renewable energy for free, and 100% renewable for a small monthly fee.
#2 - Install a programmable thermostat
By installing a programmable thermostat, such as a Nest, you can adjust your home's temperatures based on your daily routines. This simple switch could lower your energy bill by 10%-15%, and reduce your footprint by 1050 pounds of CO2e per year.
#3 - Replace incandescent bulbs with LEDs
LED bulbs are 75%-80% more energy-efficient than regular incandescent light bulbs. According to the EPA, switching to LEDs reduces your footprint by nearly 60 pounds of CO2e per bulb switched per year! Assuming that the average US home has 45 light bulbs, you could save $3.26 per bulb per year as well.
#4 - Turn your heat off as much as possible
40% of your home energy usage goes toward space heating. By turning your heat off for a day during cold months, you can reduce your footprint by around 35 pounds of CO2e per day, and save over $3 per day on average. Note that these numbers assume you're running your heat for 6 months per year.
#5 - Turn your air conditioning off as much as possible
8% of your home energy usage goes toward air conditioning. By turning your AC off for a day during hot months, you can reduce your footprint by almost 11 pounds of CO2e per day, and save nearly $1 per day, on average. Note that these numbers assume you're running your AC for 4 months per year.
#6 - Adjust your thermostat by three degrees
Nearly 50% of home energy usage is attributable to heating and air conditioning (40% is heating; 8% is air conditioning). According to the National Park Service, turning your thermostat down 3 degrees in winter and up 3 degrees in summer can reduce your footprint by 1,050 pounds of CO2e per year, and save at least 10% on your energy bill.
#7 - Use Smart Strip power strips
Smart Strip power strips help eliminate the phantom loads of your peripheral devices (such as laptops, coffee makers, and curling irons) by cutting power to them altogether when they are not in use. Since it's estimated that nearly 5% to 10% of your home energy usage over the course of the year is attributable to phantom power, these strips pay for themselves in energy cost savings in a matter of months. This can reduce your footprint by 835 pounds of CO2e per year, and decrease your energy bill by $70 per year, on average.
#8 - Install a hot water heater timer
According to Energy Star, if you have an electric water heater, you can reduce your energy usage by 5% to 10% by installing a timer that turns it off at night when you don't use hot water and/or during your utility's peak demand times. This can reduce your footprint by around 835 pounds of CO2e per year, and save you over $70 per year. You can install the timer yourself. Although they can cost $60 or more, they pay for themselves in about 1 year. Timers are most cost effective when you don't install a heat trap or insulate your tank and pipes. Timers aren't as cost effective or useful on gas water heaters because of their pilot lights.
#9 - Use the washer and dryer less and more efficiently
In many households, the dryer, washer, and refrigerator are the most energy-hungry appliances. Below is a list of ways you can do laundry more sustainably, thus reducing your CO2 footprint and saving you money.
Hand wash and hang dry laundry - Instead of doing laundry in the washer and dryer, try hand washing and hang drying your clothes instead. You'll reduce your footprint by 5.2 pounds of CO2e per load, and save $1.50 per load, on average.
Hang dry laundry - Air-drying your clothes reduces your footprint by nearly 4 pounds of CO2e per load, and saves you $1 per load, on average.
Hand wash laundry - Hand washing your clothes reduces your footprint by 1.5 pounds of CO2e per load, and saves you nearly $0.50 per load, on average.
Use cold water for your laundry - Almost 90% of the energy consumed by a washing machine goes to heating water. Switching from washing with hot or warm water to cold water saves that energy, and reduces your carbon emissions by 0.22 pounds CO2e per load, and saves you $0.40 per load, on average.
Use wool dryer balls - Wool dryer balls are an excellent natural, non-toxic replacement to dryer sheets. They last for 1000 loads, and are said to reduce drying time by 10%-30%, thus reducing your footprint by 0.8 pounds of CO2e per load, and saving you $0.20 per load, on average.
#10 - Turn the lights off as much as possible
26% of your home energy usage goes toward lighting and appliances. If we assume that 50% of this usage is by lights, you reduce your footprint by over 4 pounds of CO2e and save $0.50 for each day that you use no lights. Please note that these emissions numbers assume you are using incandescent bulbs, not LEDs. If you switched to LEDs, this does not apply to you.
#11 - Clean your fridge coils if you have an older fridge
Clean the coils on your refrigerator annually, or twice per year if you have pets that shed. The cleaner the coils, the less energy your refrigerator uses to do the same amount of work. Assuming that cleaning old refrigerator coils reduces their energy consumption by 30%, and that the refrigerator is responsible for 5% of your home energy usage, you can save 250 pounds of CO2e and $20 per year by performing this activity.
#12 - Replace your HVAC and furnace filters
Clearing any duct obstructions and replacing clogged air filters in your heating, ventilating, and air conditioning equipment is a quick and easy way to drastically improve the smoothness of air flow and reduce the amount of energy your system uses by 5% to 15%. Replacing your HVAC filters can save you around $11 per year, and reduce your footprint by 133 pounds of CO2 emissions per year, on average.
#13 - Clean your dryer's exhaust vent
Your dryer's exhaust vent becomes clogged with lint frequently. This leads to the dryer operating less efficiently, harmful chemicals being released into your home, fires, and more greenhouse gas emissions. Cleaning your dryer's exhaust vent every two months keeps your dryer running better and reduces your footprint by 11.3 pounds of carbon emissions per cleaning, and saves you $2.50 per load, on average.