Living a greener lifestyle is en vogue. Homeowners not only are looking to decrease their carbon footprints but many understand that saving energy leads to saving money, too. Going green can be a win-win situation for both the pocket and the planet.
Choosing energy efficient appliances is one way to be proactive towards creating a greener home. But should homeowners know how to calculate energy efficiency to better understand the impact of their choices? Using an online calculator is an easy way to measure energy efficiency, but the savings data also might be obtained through other means.
Using an Energy Efficiency Calculator
The site Omni Calculator offers an energy efficiency calculator. This tool is fairly easy to use. Enter the energy input and energy output, and the calculator does the math. The tool provides the answer in a percentile; higher percentiles equate to better energy efficiency.
For homeowners that are new to these numbers, it might help to have a little background. JA Williams High School gives students a worksheet on calculating efficiency and also explains that the energy input refers to electricity (or other type of energy) that is pulled into an appliance or gadget, while the output is the amount of energy the appliance releases (or puts out!). Energy output might be heat, cool air, etc.
Homeowners can find energy efficiency by looking at the tag of their appliance. Many appliances include data on how much energy it uses; this is called the EnergyGuide label. Unfortunately, not every gadget will offer this data. The label, per the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), also compares the appliance to other offerings. However, the FTC also explains that the data related to savings on a label is an estimate.
Do Homeowners Need to Calculate Energy Efficiency?
As not all appliances offer energy data on a tag, using the calculator can help homeowners better understand the efficiency of a specific appliance. However, the efficiency data might not be the most important data to all homeowners.
The number that homeowners might find more beneficial is the cost of each appliance. While understanding the energy efficiency can give the homeowner an idea about the impact of the appliance on energy waste, many homeowners might simply want to know how that appliance impacts their financial bottom line.
Calculating the cost of an appliance is easy. In fact, the Department of Energy provides an online calculator for anyone who wants to view their yearly costs associated with a specific appliance. Simply find the appliance, enter the wattage, utility rate and the number of hours or minutes the appliance is used daily plus the days used per year. The calculator will provide the yearly cost.
Most homeowners might not know the exact number of minutes of days they use their appliance over the course of a year. Pinpointing an exact cost might be a bit difficult, and the goal is to find an overall estimate. For example, smaller households might only use their dishwasher a few times a week, while larger families might need to do those dishes once a day (or more!).
Using Calculators for the Big Picture
Calculators like the one offered by the Department of Energy can be used by homeowners to see the big picture of their energy use…or waste. Homeowners could use the calculator to find the cost of all their major appliances and create a spreadsheet detailing the numbers.
Homeowners could decide to calculate these costs yearly to find patterns and trends associated with their energy use and to look at ways to decrease costs. However, one of the easiest ways that homeowners might lower their energy waste and the costs associated with this waste is to choose energy-efficient appliances.
ENERGY STAR offers data that compares the costs of standard appliances to their energy-efficient upgrades. Homeowners could choose to upgrade appliances that use the most energy; for example, heating and cooling is the major energy drain in the household.
Conduct a Home Energy Audit
Energy-efficient appliances use less energy and might help lower monthly bills, too. Yet, homeowners also can find other ways to cut costs and save even more money…and energy! A home energy audit helps homeowners spot energy drains in their home that could quietly be adding more money to the monthly bills.
Not all energy drains are obvious. Homeowners should audit each room of the home and check outlets and power strips for unused gadgets/appliances. They also should look under sinks to find any potential water leaks or drips. Swap out all light bulbs for LEDs, too.
Air leaks around windows and doors also could cause HVAC systems to kick on more often than necessary, and poor insulation also could boost that HVAC use, too.
Homeowners also can make little changes to correct bad daily habits. Turning off faucets while brushing teeth, taking shorter showers, using ceiling fans to circulate air and even nudging the thermostat down or up (depending on the season) also could impact energy costs for the better.
While understanding how to calculate energy efficiency is beneficial for homeowners who want to dig deeper into those numbers, this data also could be discovered via the appliance tags…or maybe even online. Homeowners might find it more valuable to calculate the costs of their appliances to understand how that energy use is affecting the monthly budget.
When homeowners discover that an appliance or gadget is bumping up the price of energy, they can take steps to decrease use or even upgrade to a more efficient option. In addition, adopting better daily habits and conducting a home energy audit also can help homeowners take control of their energy use and zap the energy drains in their home.