Energy consumption

I know it's a bit off but I'm just curious, What do you guys do to lessen energy consumption at home? Did purchasing an energy efficient gadget or appliances really saves both energy and money? Thanks!


TS Contributor
For a benchmark, the average US house uses 1 kw of power, about 9000 kwh of energy per year. We use ~700 w and yet the power company bothers us about energy saving.
The water company tells us 70 gallons per person per day is average but the civil engineering handbooks say 100.
The gas company says we use twice what similar 50 YO houses use but if we get a new energy efficient furnace I will not be able to repair it like the one we have from the 80s (it uses relay logic rather than a computer). And so we will at the mercy of repair people.

The decision problem becomes:
pay a lump sum now for more efficiency
pay "an annuity" over time with your less efficient appliances.
The formula for the Present Value of an Annuity can help you decide.


TS Contributor
For a broader view, I understand that the US consumes 25% of the world's resources though only 5% of the world's population. This would be justifiable if the US did 25% of the world's work. Dunno' if it does.

And if you save energy you are subsidizing those who don't. :(

Ah, well, . . .Game Theory. . .[shrug]


TS Contributor
The evidence from California may surprise you: “There is no evidence,” Levinson writes, “that homes constructed since California instituted its building energy codes use less electricity today than homes built before the codes came into effect.”

I've suspected for some time that the NEC takes advantage of the zero-risk-bias people have. The Code Panels are loaded with industry reps and AFAIK there is no consumer rep who balances costs, risks & benefits of the various electrical hardware that the homeowners are compelled to buy. And an e-mail to the NFPA did not exactly leave me with a warm, fuzzy feeling.
AFCIs seem to be troublesome with false positives and GFCIs may not even do that well, possibly due to moral hazard.

And see


Probably A Mammal
For residential homes, most energy consumption is (1) appliances and (2) convenience

The latter is to compare to commercial customers that consume energy as part of their production mix (labor, equipment, energy to run it all). Commercial convenience cooling (for employees), for instance, is only a portion of their consumption, depending on industry. A warehouse with electric fork lifts, for instance, consume a lot of energy overnight recharging.

So what convenience is there at home? Heating, cooling, lighting. Buy good equipment for these and adjust your behavior to use them more sparingly. Otherwise, what appliances are pushing up your overall load? Dishwasher, TV, clothes washer/dryer. Buy good equipment for these. Otherwise, what's left is "vampire" loads. Those things that just sit there using standby energy can add up, so being aware of your "base load" compared to others might be good to identify.


TS Contributor
I guess Ms. Chapman has freed a pent-up demand for a discussion on energy. :)

Speaking of standby, our set top box takes 35w whether the box is on or off. Either this machine is 0% efficient or we are on Candid Camera. :( For a while I only powered the box when we wanted to watch TV but the cold start routine was too inconvenient.


Probably A Mammal
LOL 35W?! Yeah, 0% efficient. I'd get smart plugs. You can set them to turn off entirely whatever is connected. Really good ones will have remotes, timers, etc. Fancy, fancy, but gives you control over your plug loads. If something doesn't need to be on, turn it off. This gives you the ability to actually turn it off.

I work at a utility, so I just have insider knowledge now haha
When I recently had to replace my gas furnace, the sales/technician who helped me specifically told me not to waste my money on a high-efficiency model. He said because my house is small (<1100 square feet, or about 10 square meters), that I would not see any benefit from the higher-efficiency model. When I asked about on-demand tankless hot water heaters, he said most customers don't save any money. They just end up taking longer showers, which nullifies the efficiency of the unit.

To be more efficient, I turn my furnace down in the evenings to about 65 F (18 C) and turn on a gas cast iron stove in the living room. No sense heating up the whole house when we're mostly just in one room. That has helped my gas bill noticeably. And LOVE the LED bulbs! I can't wait for the rest of the CFLs to burn out so I can switch them.


Probably A Mammal
LEDs are great. They need to come down in price, though.

Definitely a lot of options when it comes to HVAC equipment: gas vs electric, size of home, behavior/comfort, etc. I'm not sure about cast iron stoves, but space heaters work well for on-demand and on-spot comfort.


TS Contributor
With tankless elec. units you may need new wiring.
One elec. tank water heater I measured lost 75w through the insulation so you can figure the breakeven point if you replace with a tankless but I always got a hot/cold water sandwich when taking showers with these.

The spectrums that LEDs give off have improved considerably.

My HVAC guy said very high efficiency furnaces are touchy.

10w per sq. ft. is one rule of thumb.
An average house may take 6 BTU per sq. ft. per heating degree day, with a tight house getting by on 2. My house has about 12 and somewhere online is the histogram for these values for US houses.