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Simple Ways to Cut Energy Use

No doubt that US homes consume a lot of energy. Annually, they require about 11,700 kWh, compared to France with 6,400 kWh, the UK with 4,600 kWh, and China at around 1,300 kWh, according to the US Energy Council. Here are ways that utilities can work with consumers to reduce demand.

Check or upgrade a water heater. Many run too hot, so turn the temperature down to 120F, which is still enough for a warm shower, but can lead to double digit heating cost reductions.

Examine the dishwasher. Nowadays, dishwashers require about 5 gallons of water per cycle, which is half the amount of water and energy that standard dishwashers consumed 20 years ago.

Incandescent bulbs waste money and energy. LEDs use less energy, as much as 85% less energy to produce the same amount of light. Also, the LEDs last 10 to 25 years; incandescents must be replaced every year or two.

Standard shower heads use up to 8 gallons of steaming water per minute. A low-flow shower head works with only 1 to 2 gallons of water per minute.

US residences consume a great deal of energy. But options are available to reduce consumption in a number of household devices.

Paul Korzeniowski's picture

Thank Paul for the Post!

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Discussions

Dr. Amal Khashab's picture
Dr. Amal Khashab on Aug 13, 2020 9:57 pm GMT

These need public awareness campains every now and then.

Paul Korzeniowski's picture
Paul Korzeniowski on Aug 14, 2020 8:34 pm GMT

Very true. They do run but have a hard time gaining much traction in today's highly competitive social networking world. 

Dudley McFadden's picture
Dudley McFadden on Aug 19, 2020 2:25 pm GMT

It must be 10+ years since I purchased, or probably even could've purchased, an incandescent light bulb.  Thank you for pointing out how easy it is to trim energy use, especially to the newer generation who probably hasn't ever had to think about it.

But I would add, the most simple action to reduce energy use is to stop cooling excessively homes in the summer and heating them in the winter.  Of course I certainly don't mean live without air conditioning at all! Don a sweater and put blankets on the bed in winter.  Most importantly, set the thermostat to 85° in the summer.  (OK, turn it down to 80 before turning in to bed!)  People, including the elderly, continue to live all over the world without air conditioning.  But North Americans simply won't do it.  We've exhorted them since at least the 1970s energy crunch. The mantra then was bold:  set it to 78°!  Oh my gosh, you're not serious, are you?  People move to warm climate regions, insist they care about the environment one minute, then the next minute they're unwilling to put up with a temperature above 80°, much less 90°.  Again, we don't need to do away with the A/C, just stop expecting Arctic conditions in August.  Maybe folks should pre-pay for electricity like some do for their cell phone.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Aug 19, 2020 4:16 pm GMT

I agree with you Dudley, but it's also a delicate balance. If you have people who are overly used to these excessively heated/cooled homes and you tell them that they must be green and energy conscious and adjust their thermostats by 10 degrees from what they're used to, they are likely to reject those measures as too extreme (as unfair as that labeling may be). That mentality around conservation as leading to sacrifice of way of life is where the Carter-era discussions on conservation erred. Luckily today we have tools like smart thermostats that can help as well-- making sure AI-based adjustments, ensuring empty buildings aren't heated/cooled, etc. 

Paul Korzeniowski's picture
Paul Korzeniowski on Aug 21, 2020 10:17 am GMT

Interesting points. One would think that consumers would want to cut their expenses and lowering the thermostat is one way to reach that goal. These systems are much smarter than they were in the past, but I wonder how many individuals take advantage of the capabilities. The user interfaces on many of the devices are still fairly limited and in some cases, difficult to use. 

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