Energy-efficient appliances and upgrades could be appealing to homeowners who want to lower their energy use and save money on electricity, water or gas each month. Some of these appliances might have higher up-front costs than standard options, and homeowners might wonder how they can understand savings over time.
Is the investment worth the cost, and will those energy-efficient appliances save money over time? Homeowners can understand energy savings potential with an energy-efficiency calculator, and different types of these calculators are available around the web!
What is an Energy-Efficiency Calculator?
An energy-efficiency calculator is fairly self-explanatory. These tools help homeowners calculate the energy savings from different appliances or energy-efficient upgrades to their home. With energy-efficient calculators, homeowners can compare costs and better understand the long-term savings benefit of these eco-friendly upgrades.
Where to Find Energy-Efficiency Calculators
When homeowners are looking for energy-efficient calculators to better understand savings, one of the best resources is offered by the Department of Energy. Their website offers calculators for heating and cooling (commercial and residential), lighting, faucets/shower heads and more.
With the Department of Energy’s faucet energy-efficiency calculator, for example, homeowners will need to include data related to flow rate, time in use (hours per day and number of days), and costs associated with the utility (both water rates and the energy that supplies heat to the water heater).
The calculator from the Department of Energy “…estimates a product’s lifetime energy cost savings at various efficiency levels.”
ENERGY STAR® also offers data related to savings for different energy-efficient appliances. Homeowners can visit the site to find out how ENERGY STAR appliances compare to the traditional options. In addition, ENERGY STAR includes a different type of calculator that helps homeowners find out the energy-efficiency level of their home. The tool is called Home Energy Yardstick, and it will show energy use as it compares to other homes. Energy Yardstick gives tips on how to improve energy efficiency, too!
How a Home Energy Audit Can Help
A home energy audit also can help homeowners better understand energy use…and energy waste. A home energy audit can help homeowners find ways to cut down on energy use and maybe embrace greener solutions like energy-efficient upgrades or appliances in the future.
Homeowners can conduct their own DIY home energy audit or hire a pro. When conducting a DIY audit, though, homeowners will need to go through each room in the home and examine every single energy source in that room (don’t forget the basement or attic!). Homeowners will need to inspect outlets for unused appliances or gadgets as well as power strips.
In the bathrooms, look under sinks to check for drips or leaks. If the faucet is not in great condition, it also could be replaced with a touch-free faucet or a low flow faucet to minimize water waste.
Lights also could be a source of energy waste. Are bulbs still incandescent? Switch them out to LEDs for greater energy efficiency.
In the kitchen, unplug toasters or other appliances if they aren’t being used. And, once again, check under the sink for any leaks or plumbing issues.
The HVAC also needs a review. Check the filter and replace it if it’s dirty. The temperature on the thermostat also could be a source of energy waste. If the thermostat is set to a balmy 72 degrees in summer, that HVAC unit could be kicking on constantly during a hot summer. A busy HVAC could mean a higher electricity bill!
HomeSelfe also could help homeowners during their DIY home energy audit. Homeowners can download HomeSelfe to help them find any energy waste in each room. Using the app, homeowners will need to take a picture of each room and enter any necessary energy data for the home. It might be helpful to grab utility bills from the past few months to help with data entry.
Once all the photos have been snapped and the energy info is added into the app, HomeSelfe will show homeowners ways to improve the energy efficiency of their home. The app also can help find rebates for additional energy savings.
Hidden Energy Drains
Sometimes homeowners might have the latest energy-efficient appliances and still be faced with high electricity or gas bills. So what gives? There are hidden sources of energy drains that could contribute to higher bills.
Since heating and cooling can account for nearly half of the home’s energy use, an overzealous air conditioning of the furnace system could be a contributor to a high bill. Maybe homeowners have adjusted the temperature too high or too low during summer or winter.
However, the unit could be working overtime for other reasons, too. Poor insulation could mean that the home isn’t properly protected from the cold or heat. Windows also could be poorly insulated, and this also could cause energy leaks.
Homeowners can use a variety of tools from the Department of Energy, ENERGY STAR and/or HomeSelfe to find and compare energy costs…and energy drains, too. Using these tools could help homeowners create a more energy-efficient home and maybe even lower their monthly bills, too.