(855) 321-7473

M-F 9am-5pm Eastern

Tips to Lower Energy Use

Tips to Lower Your Household Energy Use

By Tobias Roberts Rise Writer
May 29, 2020

Energy efficiency is best defined as using less energy to achieve the same end. One of the most well-known examples of this is switching to LED or fluorescent light bulbs. Whereas incandescent bulbs used anywhere between 40 and 100 watts, fluorescents use around 15 watts. Even better, LED lights can consume as low as 5 watts while still emitting the same amount of lumens (light) as their incandescent counterparts. 

In 2018, the average American household consumed 10,972 kWh of electricity - just over 900 kWh per month. For perspective, the average household in urban China used only about a sixth of that amount of energy at 1,888 kWh per year. To avoid comparing apples to oranges, developed countries in Europe also generally consume much less energy per capita despite living in similar climates. 

  • The average home in the UK uses under 4,000 kWh per year
  • Germany hovers around the world average at just over 3,500 kWh per year.
  • Even countries with extremely cold climates and long stretches of dark winters have significantly lower per capita energy consumption. For instance, households in Denmark consume about 5,860 kWh per year.  

While electricity consumption in the United States has continued to rise year over year (though recent statistics show that it might finally be flattening), the majority of European countries have seen significant declines in their energy demands during the past 15 years. For example, France reported an almost 12% decrease in household energy demand between 2000 and 2008. European countries are working hard to meet carbon reduction targets and are taking leadership in the transition towards a clean energy economy. Lowering energy demands and increasing efficiency measures in the household have been important contributors to their success.

report by the EPA found that energy efficiency measures are an extremely low-cost resource for achieving carbon emission reduction targets. Finding ways to lower your home's overall energy usage is an important and cost-effective strategy to help your home become more sustainable. And you'll save money too! Below, we look at a series of ways you can lower the energy usage (and carbon footprint) of your household. 

Photo Credit: Nest

Programmable and Smart Thermostats

Programmable and Smart thermostats allow homeowners to set different schedules for heating and cooling the home based on the actual use of the house. Smart thermostats also rely on sensors to change your home's temperature to save even more energy over time. Instead of setting your inside temperature to a comfortable 68 degrees throughout the day, a programmable thermostat can lower the temperature during the long hours when nobody is inside the home. The thermostat will then kick in to heat your home (during winter) around 5:00 PM, or whenever you get home. The US Department of Energy estimates that it is possible to save up to 10% on heating and cooling per year by lowering your thermostat 7°-10°F for eight hours per day from its usual setting. 

Unplugged Phone

Eliminate Vampire Power

Vampire power, or phantom power, is another major cause of energy waste in homes. Many electrical devices and household appliances have a standby mode. This essentially means that they continue to consume energy, even when they are turned off. The average American household has at least 50 different devices and appliances that potentially draw phantom power. A report by the National Resources Defense Council states that 23% of all home energy consumption might be due to vampire power associated with standby modes.

Eve Smart Energy Strip Apple
Eve Smart Energy Strip. Photo Credit: Apple

Simply unplugging your TV, coffee pot, and other devices you rarely use is an easy way to cut back on your energy demands. There are also smart plugs with timers or off switches and smart power strips that allow you to ensure that your devices' power is truly off.

Rheem Tankless Gas Water Heater Home Depot
Rheem Tankless Gas Water Heater. Photo Credit: Home Depot

Update Your Water Heater

Just as regular thermostats will keep your home heated or cooled when no one is home, traditional water heaters keep water heated around the clock, even though we do not use hot water for a large part of the day. 

Rheem Hybrid Heat Pump Water Heater Rheem
Rheem Hybrid Heat Pump Water Heater. Photo Credit: Rheem

Heat Pump Water Heaters

Heat pump water heaters look like traditional storage tank water heaters, but they're better! They draw heat from the air in your house to heat water very efficiently. Depending on your water usage, they can save a household between $200 and up to almost $500 per year.

Tankless Water Heaters

Electric on-demand (or tankless) water heaters will lower your energy usage and save you money. Rise estimates savings of over $150 per year. If you want to reduce your bill even more, you can consider propane gas on-demand heaters. They are extremely efficient and will reduce gas or electricity usage for hot water in your home. 

Intermatic Water Heater Timer
Intermatic Water Heater Timer. Photo Credit: The Home Depot

Water Heater Timers

If you are not ready to switch out your water heater yet, consider installing a water heater timer. They can save a typical family of four almost $300 per year and are not a significant investment.

Image Courtesy of myheat.ca
Rooftop Heat Zones. Photo Credit: myheat.ca

Insulate Your Roof

Another important consideration when it comes to lowering your household energy demand is adequately insulating your roof and ceiling. Since heat rises, at least 25% of all heat loss occurs through the roof or ceiling in a home. Obviously, the more heat you lose during the winter, the harder your central heating unit will have to work to keep your home a comfortable temperature. Space heating accounts for around 45% of home utility bills. So, insulating your roof and attic to improve your home's thermal efficiency will save you significant amounts of money. 


Think About Your Needs

Energy efficiency measures will certainly go a long way in helping to reduce your overall electricity consumption. However, there is also a need to consider our needs versus our wants. We should consider this in terms of how we use and how we design our homes.

LED Bulb

While LED lights do consume less energy than incandescent bulbs, they still require electricity to work. Does your household really need the 45 lighting fixtures that make up the average home? Do you need to run your dryer to dry that last load of clothes when the sun is shining outside, and your clothesline is empty? Can your hair air-dry instead of using the blow dryer?


Bottom Line 

Lowering our electricity consumption requires some simple behavior changes as can include some more far-reaching cultural shifts. Transitioning into more energy-efficient homes that are smartly designed could very well help to make the transition towards renewable energy easier and more attainable. 

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2021-05-14T20:14:19+0000
Tobias Roberts

Article by:

Tobias Roberts

Tobias runs an agroecology farm and a natural building collective in the mountains of El Salvador. He specializes in earthen construction methods and uses permaculture design methods to integrate structures into the sustainability of the landscape.