Reducing energy use in your home saves you money, increases our energy security, and reduces the pollution that is emitted from non-renewable sources of energy. If you are planning to install a small renewable energy system to make your own electricity, such as a solar electric system or small wind turbine, reducing your electricity loads is the first step because it allows you to purchase a smaller and less expensive system.
First look at your utility bill. The national average electricity consumption is about 1000 kWh/month. If you use more, even greater savings may be possible. There are many ways you can reduce electricity use in your home:
- Appliances and electronics -- Purchase energy-efficient products and operate them efficiently. Use an advanced power strip to reduce "vampire loads"--electricity that is wasted when electronics are not in use.
- Lighting -- Purchase energy-efficient products, operate them efficiently, and incorporate more daylighting into your home using energy-efficient windows and skylights.
- Electric space heating and cooling -- Purchase energy-efficient electric systems and operate them efficiently. Incorporate passive solar design concepts into your home, which include using energy-efficient windows. Properly insulate and air seal your home. Select an energy-efficient heating system that doesn't use electricity.
- Electric water heating -- Purchase an Energy Star heat pump water heater and operate it efficiently.
- Reduce your “always-on” appliances. If your home has a smart meter and you can see your hourly consumption, then examine your consumption at 3AM. It should be significantly less than your use at 7pm. If it isn’t then you might have “vampire loads.”. Look for electronics that you don’t use (like VCRs!) or can switch off, or perhaps get rid of that extra refrigerator.
To improve the overall energy efficiency of your home, see the Energy Saver home energy assessment page.
Time-Based Electricity Rates
Many utilities are introducing programs that encourage their customers to use electricity during off-peak hours. The programs pass on the savings to you, the customer, through rebates or reduced electricity rates.
Smart meters and home energy management systems allow customers to program how and when their home uses energy. If you are able to shift your power use to off-peak times -- such as running your dishwasher late in the evening -- these programs can save you money.
Time-based rates are very attractive to owners of plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles since typically these vehicles are recharged at night. See buying and driving fuel efficient and alternative fuel vehicles for more information.