Dear Mr. Energy,
A while back I had a home energy audit and per my auditor’s suggestions I reduced my home’s heating and cooling costs by sealing my attic, testing and sealing my HVAC ducts, adding insulation, and closing up gaps and cracks all over my house, but is there any way to reduce my baseload energy consumption? It is higher than I’d like it to be.
Congratulations on getting a professional energy audit, following through, and reducing your heating and cooling bills. Many experts think that this is the single most impactful thing you can do to lessen your carbon footprint, as home heating and cooling homes in the United States is responsible for about 20% of the greenhouse gases that an individual creates in his or her lifetime. That’s way more than the greenhouse gases created by the food we eat or the vehicles we drive. So – bravo to you!
The answer to your question is yes, you can absolutely reduce your baseload energy consumption. Mr. Energy noticed you did not ask about cost-effectiveness, so keep in mind that some of these suggestions may cost you more money than you’ll save. Some require you to buy or replace items in your home, and some address behaviors. But they’ll all reduce your energy baseload.
- Appliances. How old are they? Are they Energy Star? Are they the most energy efficient of their kind? If they’re not something that needs to run all the time, like a refrigerator, do you have them plugged into a power strip that you can turn off when not in use? Do you have a clothesline set up for hanging your clothes to dry?
- Water. Extremely energy efficient water heaters are available these days; electric heat pump water heaters cost about half what a conventional electric or gas storage model costs to run per year. If you’re not looking to replace your water heater, however, you can also turn its thermostat down to 120 degrees, insulate it if it’s warm to the touch (newer water heaters have efficient built-in insulation and you do not need to add more), and limit your showers to a few minutes.
- Lighting. All your lighting should be outfitted with compact fluorescent lightbulbs or LEDs.
- Energy vampires. Anything that’s plugged into an outlet is potentially an energy vampire. Televisions, video games, stereo equipment – these all use energy even when turned off. Plugging items like these into a power strip, then turning off the power strip when the item is not in use, saves more energy than you’d think.