Making the best use of your electricity is easy with these three efficiency facts
Electricity touches our lives nearly every minute of every day and makes up about 5% of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). It makes sense to use electricity wisely, whether you’re concerned about how it affects the environment or you want to save money.
Here are three surprising facts about energy efficiency that can help you make the best use of your electricity.
Proof of efficiency
A little-known way of measuring efficiency is with a statistic called the energy intensity index. It shows how much energy it takes to produce a dollar of the economy’s GDP. Another term that’s been used for that idea is energy productivity.
Whichever term you use, the indexes show that we’re getting better at creating more economic activity with less energy—energy intensity is down and productivity is up. Way up.
The numbers show that energy intensity is about half of what it was 30 years ago due to a range of improvements, from building codes to light bulbs to motor vehicle mileage. These improvements are expected to continue. The Department of Energy projects energy intensity will decline by 30% over the next 30 years.
Out with the old, in with the new
The old phrase “you have to spend money to make money” is catchy because at first, it sounds like it doesn’t make sense. But when it comes to appliances that consume a lot of energy, it can make dollars and sense.
From dishwashers to computers, energy efficiency is improving dramatically every year as technology, federal rules and plain old competition give you a better bang for your buck.
The yellow energy guide labels found on products at your appliance store will tell you how much you can save with a new purchase. Another way to compare the old to the new is to search online for “flip your fridge” to find an ENERGY STAR® calculator that will compare the energy use of your current appliances to what’s available in stores.
Did you know you could be spending $100 to $400 a year on energy you don’t even need? That frightening fact even comes with scary names—phantom power or vampire electronics. TV and video games draw power so they’re ready to turn on instantly. Digital clocks are another power drain, as well as computers and phones plugged in even though they’re fully charged.
To save energy, you can plug several devices into a power strip and turn it off when you’re not using them, or smart power strips are available that will do that for you. To start exorcising the phantoms, take a notepad through each room of your home to list anything that’s plugged in, so you can figure out which energy-users you might be able to control without causing too much inconvenience.
Your electric co-op can advise you on the most effective steps for energy savings—they’re your local leading authority on home energy use. And that’s no surprise.