Watt Does It use

The go-to blog to save energy, save money, help the earth.

The kitchen holds significant opportunity for energy efficiency savings.

12 Ways Save Money Through Energy Efficiency in the Kitchen

The kitchen is the central hub in most homes. It is the place where families gather for everything from meal preparation and craft making, to grabbing a quick bite, to helping kids with homework. So often, we prepare and cook meals without considering whether or not the tools and appliances we use for these tasks cost us more than they need to. By merely observing your habits and understanding the amount of electricity used in these acts, a few simple alterations can help you achieve energy efficiency in the kitchen. This will help you not only save electricity, but also save money on the utility bill and help the environment.

One Room, Many Ways to Save

The stove, refrigerator/freezer, and dishwasher are the most electricity-intensive appliances in the kitchen. On top of that, if these items are used haphazardly or are not regularly maintained, their efficiency levels rapidly decrease. In this post, we present 12 expert tips to help you embrace energy efficiency in the kitchen and enjoy energy savings.

4 Ways to Save with Your Refrigerator

#1 Allow for Air Circulation

The condenser coils in a refrigerator work best with ample air circulation. So, make sure your refrigerator is not pushed into an extra-tight space in the kitchen. If possible, leave at least 2-inches between your fridge and the surrounding walls. 

#2 Clean the Coils

The condenser coils are generally located either on the backside or underneath your refrigerator. In these locations, they can attract dust and debris, which reduce their cooling ability, requiring them to work harder.

Make it a habit to clean the coils every quarter or at least twice a year. A quick sweep with the vacuum hose will capture the accumulated dirt and enable the condenser coils to move air more freely.

#3 Promote Consistent Ambient Temperature

Maintaining consistent temperatures inside and out of your refrigerator will help it work as energy efficiently as possible.  Here’s how to achieve that:

  • Avoid positioning the refrigerator in heat-generating areas, such as near the dishwasher, oven, or where it is exposed to heat from direct sunlight.
  • Avoid leaving the refrigerator door open for extended periods while searching for items. It will have to work harder to keep the temperature down.
  • Before placing hot items inside your fridge, allow them to cool down as much as possible. The moisture produced from hot, or even warm, foods and liquids will lead to the same result as leaving the door open. The compressor will need to work overtime to maintain the interior temperature of the fridge. Feel strongly about refrigerating items immediately to maintain a safe temperature? At the very least, cover them up tightly to prevent releasing warm moisture.
  • Note that these tips also apply to your freezer!

#4 Stay Up To Date

If your refrigerator is 15 years old or older, it could very well use twice as much energy as a new ENERGY STAR refrigerator. A new ENERGY STAR-rated fridge can save you over $250 over the next five years in addition to significantly reducing your carbon footprint. So consider an upgrade. It could be a big boost to your energy efficiency in the kitchen.

WattDoesItUse will provide recommendations and purchase tips when it is re-launched in December—stay tuned! Until then, you can find the energy consumption of your specific refrigerator using WattDoesItUse.

5 Ways to Save with Your Dishwasher

Dishwashers are generally more cost-efficient to use versus washing dishes by hand. On average, households spend about $50 per year on the electricity to run their dishwashers. Implement the tips listed below to ensure you’re using the dishwasher as effectively as possible.

#1 Use Appropriate Settings

Most newer model dishwashers have an “economy” or “energy-saving” setting. This reduces both the temperature and amount of water used, saving you money on not only your electric bill, but also your water bill!

#2 Cycle Duration Matters

Make the most of the dishwashing cycles by running it only when it is full and always choose the shortest cycle possible to reduce energy usage.

#3 Check Temperature Settings

As we mentioned in a previous post, heating water can account for 14-25 percent of the energy consumed in your home. Verify that the temperature setting on both your water heater and dishwasher is no higher than 120-degrees Fahrenheit.

#4 Clean the Drain and Trap

The drain and trap located at the bottom of dishwashers can both accumulate food and debris. By cleaning these areas weekly or monthly, you’ll avoid having to re-wash dishes and help your dishwasher will run more smoothly.

#5 Forego the Drying Cycle

You might be surprised at the amount of electricity (and money) you can save by merely allowing your dishes to air dry, rather than using the drying cycle. Crack the door open and let the residual heat dry them, and your savings on dishwasher-related electricity use could amount to up to 15%.

4 Ways to Save When Preparing Meals

#1 Invest in the right appliances

It’s easy to fall into the habit of comparing only price tags when considering a new appliance. But house—and especially kitchen—appliances are an investment. They add to (or detract from) the value of your home. And they can continue to save (or cost you) money when you operate them. Take, for example, the oven. Should you go with a convection style or traditional style oven? You may not be aware that convection ovens are designed to be much more energy efficient. In fact, they require approximately 20% less energy than a standard oven.

Another major opportunity for energy efficiency in the kitchen—and in the other rooms of your house—is lighting. Of course, everyone prefers a kitchen that has plenty of light. Even if you are taking advantage of the many benefits of natural light in your kitchen, additional lighting is often required. Be sure to use energy-efficient LED bulbs. LED lights may cost a bit more upfront, but they are bright, longer lasting, and use significantly less energy than incandescent bulbs. Opting for these bulbs can help you save even more money and electricity in your kitchen.

Take the time to research the relative power consumption of particular products and/or technologies before making a purchase. It’s also a good rule of thumb to look for the ENERGY STAR logo as an indicator of a product’s energy efficiency.

#2 Use the Right Appliance

Most homes have a variety of cooking appliances, including traditional ovens and stovetops, microwaves, toaster ovens, and crockpots. The energy requirements for each vary. Here are average electrical costs to expect per hour of use:

  • Oven – $0.25 per hour
  • Stovetop – $0.15 per hour
  • Crockpot – $0.03 per hour
  • Microwave Oven – $0.12 per hour
  • Toaster Oven – $0.12 per hour

Whenever possible, opt for a smaller appliance if it can still handle the job and produce the results you want.

#3 Choose Appropriate Cookware

Using high-end cookware will help food cook more evenly and require less energy. Ceramic and glass dishes are not only durable; they are conductive, so they need less heat and reduced time in the oven. The best options for stovetop cooking include glass or copper bottom metal pots and pans. When preparing food on the stovetop, select the right size cookware and use lids, while also choosing the best size burner to get the job done. Even these minor changes can help you make the most of your time in the kitchen and save energy costs.

#4 Cook Less Often

When you are cooking meals, consider cooking in larger batches to make the most of a heated oven or burner. Not only will this cut down on energy costs, but the convenience of preparing additional meals ahead of time will also free you up from cooking over the week and allow you to spend more time with the family—something we’re certainly eager to have! 

Whether it’s replacing your old appliances with new energy-efficient ones, adopting new methods and tools, or simply embracing better habits, there are many ways to improve your energy efficiency in the kitchen. Whether you love cooking or do it out of necessity, the recommendations in this post will help you minimize your electrical (and financial) waste. Think we missed one? Tried one of the tips with great success? Let us know in the comments below!

Millions of miles of wires span the US to transport our electricity.

Electricity 101: What Is a Watt? And Where Does My Electricity Come From?

What exactly is the deal with electricity? Where does my electricity come from? Maybe these questions hit you as you flip on a light at midnight to rummage through the kitchen for a snack. Or perhaps they occur to you as you crank the air conditioning on a hot summer day. Maybe they even come to you when your laptop is at 1% and you frantically reach for your charger to plug it into the wall. No matter when or how, we know you’ve thought of this. And there’s no shame in not fully understanding electricity—we get it!

If you’re wondering about the basics behind electricity, like what exactly is a watt? Or, where in the world does electricity come from? Or even, what’s the difference between a watt and a kilowatt, anyhow? We’ve got some shockingly good news. As people who can’t help but talk endlessly about watts, electricity, and voltage, we’re all charged up about sparking your interest in electricity. And we’ve got amp-le resources to keep you informed! (We’re so amped up that we’re not even sorry for the sheer number of electricity puns we threw in that last paragraph!)

Let’s Talk Watts: Your Introduction to Key Electricity Terms

The best way to really dive into the world of electricity is to cover the bases on all the basics. That means you’ll need to be familiar with a few key terms: watts, kilowatts (and kilowatt-hours), volts, and amps.

What is a Watt?

We’ll start with a concept vital to the electricity conversation: the watt.

What exactly is a watt? We’re so glad you asked.

The watt is defined as the SI unit of power, which are equivalent to one joule per second, corresponding to the power in an electric circuit in which the potential difference is one volt and the current one ampere.

Yeah, even we’re scratching our heads at that definition.

Instead, let’s think of watts like this: a watt is a measurement of the rate at which electricity is flowing. Similarly to how you measure miles per hour in your car. Think of watts as the MPH of the big bad world of electricity. The watts are the measurement that tell you just how fast the electrons are going. As an example, if a lightbulb is an 80-watt lightbulb, it’s going to consume electricity at a rate of 80 watts.

Watts vs Kilowatts: Which is Which?

At this point you might be wondering: if watts are the measurement of drawn electricity, why does your electricity bill show up with a measurement of kilowatt-hours (kWh)?

Here’s the deal—a watt is a measure of power, right? Well, the kilowatt is a measure of energy. Energy is—in all science textbooks everywhere—described as the ability to do work. So, think of energy as creating heat or lighting something up.

Remember that 80-watt lightbulb we talked about? If you run that 80-watt lightbulb for an hour, you’ve used a total of 80 watt-hours—or .08 kilowatt-hours (hint: 1 kilowatt is equal to 1,000 watts).

So—why does your electric bill show up like that? Simple. It’s just easier to measure large amounts of energy in kilowatts.

Wait—So Where do Volts and Amps come in?

Okay, we’ve got the watt, kilowatt, and kilowatt-hour questions sorted. That still leaves us with another big question: what’s a volt? We know, we know, there’s a lot to understand. We promise, it’s all going to come together. Stick with us!

A volt (or voltage) is defined as the way we measure electromotive force that causes a current of a single ampere to flow through a conductor. An ampere (commonly shortened to amp) is: the basic unit of electric current.

As with the watt, scratching our heads, but don’t give up! We’re going to simplify this too.

Remember how we said that a watt is like the mph that measures how fast your car is zooming down the “road” of wire? Let’s change that image up a bit. Now, let’s think about electricity as if it’s a steady stream of water (heck, it can be anything you want—coffee, wine, whatever makes this image more fun) flowing through a tube.

The amount of pressure that drives that water-wine-coffee-combo through the tube is voltage. And amps are the volume of water-wine-coffee flowing through that tube all the way to your glass. The watts—in this scenario—would be the total amount of energy/power that water-wine-coffee could provide you (the tube’s capacity).

Starting to make sense?

Crash Course in Electricity Production

All right—we’ve got the basics down. Watt, amp, voltage, check. Answering those questions has probably led to another, even bigger question: how exactly is electricity made? Or more specifically, where exactly does electricity come from in the U.S.?

Never fear, we’ve got you covered. Now that you’ve got the basics mastered, we can build on that foundation to understand how our electricity comes to be.

How Electricity is Made in the US

It’s no secret that electricity isn’t magic. But the entire process might seem so foreign and confusing that it might as well be something you read in a made-up fairytale. We’re here to change all that—let’s break it down.

There’s no one single way to produce electricity. In the US, we use predominantly fossil fuels to create electricity. Fortunately, we also use an increasing amount of alternative sources like wind, solar, and nuclear. Not all electricity is created equally. In fact, the type and amount of emissions produced by your electricity all goes back to how your electricity is generated. You can see how yours is generated here!

In the US in 2018, approximately 64 percent of electricity generation came from fossil fuels (like coal and petroleum), 19 percent came from nuclear energy, and 17 percent came from renewable energy resources.

The Logistical Process: How Electricity Gets to Your House

How exactly does electricity go from being made at a generation station (using coal, natural gas, water, or wind, as we discussed earlier) to powering your home when you flip on a light, plug in your phone, or turn on your AC.?

The US electrical grid has 200,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines and 5.5 million miles of local distribution lines.
The US electrical grid has 200,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines and 5.5 million miles of local distribution lines. Source: American Public Power Association

First thing first, electricity has to travel a long way to get from the generating stations to where your house is. It could be hundreds of miles away from where you’re flipping your light switch on! That’s part of what makes electricity so cool (we think, anyway).

 We’ll simplify this process by taking a look at a step-by-step:

  1. Electricity is made (we’ll save that story for another day)
  2. That electricity is sent as a current through a transformer. That transformer increases the voltage. (Side note: remember the pressure in our liquid-of-choice analogy). This enables it to travel a long distance without any trouble.
  3. The electrical charge will run through super high-voltage transmission lines (which stretch all across the US).
  4. Eventually, that current will reach a headquarters of sorts, called a substation. This substation cranks down the voltage significantly. That way, it can safely travel through the smaller power lines in your neighborhood.
  5. As it travels through those smaller power lines, little transformers (you’ve seen these in your city or neighborhood for sure) will reduce that voltage a few more times. This ensures that it’s safe enough to use inside your home.
  6. The current makes its way through those transformers and into your home. In the process, it passes through a meter that measures how much of it you use.
  7. From there, the electricity goes to a centralized location in your house—like a circuit breaker or a service panel. There, the electricity is “on call” for duty. It travels through the wires in your walls when you signal a demand for the power, either by flipping a switch or plugging something in.

See, it’s not all that complex! Did this post wet your appetite? Wanting to learn more about electricity? Then watt are you waiting for?! Let us know lingering questions in the comments. And sign up for updates from the WattDoesItUse blog to get even more electricity insights, tips on how to conserve energy, new product reviews, and advice on cost savings!

Energy conversation is a powerful way for you to reduce electricity consumption and save money on your utility bill.

8 Most Effective Energy Conservation Strategies at Home

In our previous post, we discussed the important role of energy efficiency in reducing your energy consumption and utility bill. In this post, we share energy conservation strategies to pair with those energy efficiency efforts. Combining the two, you can minimize your energy footprint and power-related spending.

Energy conservation tends to require behavioral change. And you certainly already have enough on your plate with the current daily to-do list. So we have done the homework for you to identify the most effective strategies to implement to enjoy electricity consumption—and cost—savings.

Adjust your day-to-day

Energy conservation can be as simple as turning off your lights or appliances when you don’t need them. You may not have energy efficient devices. However, even using energy-intensive devices less by integrating manual tasks into your routine presents significant potential for utility savings. Two big changes you can make: 

  • Hang dry your clothes instead of putting them in the dryer. Or at the very least, leverage automatic cycles that sense when clothes are dry versus relying on the timed cycle.
  • Wait until your dishwasher is fully loaded to run it. This way you’ll get the most cleaning power for every dollar you spend on water and electricity). Run it during off-peak times for added cost savings.
  • Turn off the heated dry option on your dishwasher and crack the door to allow your dishes to dry on their own.

Leverage natural light

A single south-facing window can illuminate 20-100 times its area. Consider using this natural light instead of a lamp. Just turning off one 60-watt bulb for four hours could result in up to $10 a day if you have incandescent bulbs. If you need a lighting boost, opt for task lighting instead of more energy intensive ceiling lighting.

Be Mindful of Your Thermostat’s Placement

Heating and cooling are typically the highest opportunity areas when it comes to energy conservation. Your thermostat serves as your HVAC’s brain, so be mindful of where it is location. In the summer, heat thrown off by electronics can cause the air conditioner to put in overtime. In the winter, if the thermostat is located in an area that catches a draft, your heater will respond accordingly. As will your utility bill.

Lower Your Thermostat

Adopt the habit of lowering the temperature on your thermostat while away from home. Dropping the temp by just three to five degrees will reduce your monthly utility bill and use less energy. According to Energy.gov, lowering your thermostat by 10-15 degrees during the work day will save 5-15 percent per year.

Get Smart

Manually lowering the temperature on your thermostat can yield significant savings. But it can be hard to remember to change it back and forth everyday. Smart thermostats can help you save significant energy and associated costs, minus the headache. Nest found a 10-12% savings on heating and 15% savings on cooling—about $131-$145—per year. Ecobee claims average savings of 23%.

The impact of a smart thermostat will depend on a number of factors:

  • The setting you currently keep the heat at,
  • Your cost of electricity,
  • Your home and HVAC system itself, and
  • Seasonal variations.

The ability to schedule heat settings based on your behavior and take control of your heating/cooling bill is quite powerful.

Water Heating

Water heating is a major contributor to your total energy consumption. In fact, heating water can account for 14-25 percent of the energy consumed in your home. Consider turning down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F). You will not only save energy but also avoid a surprise scalding next time you run the faucet!

If you buy a new refrigerator, don’t leave the old one plugged in

Avoid the temptation to use the old fridge as a backup for party supplies and liquid refreshment. The extra storage space will cost you. You can expect an extra $50–150 per year in electricity to keep that older fridge running. In contrast, the new fridge may cost only $30–60 per year to run because refrigerator efficiency has improved so much in the past three decades. The savings will be especially noticeable if your new refrigerator is ENERGY STAR-rated. Under these circumstances, think about how much refrigeration you truly need. Is that extra capacity a must have? Or nice to have? Ideally, aim to have only one refrigerator sized to meet your real needs. 

Stay up to date on maintenance

Your appliances will work more effectively for longer if cared for, conserving electricity and saving money. When your air conditioner filters are clogged, you will have to turn it up to achieve the same air temperature. The same applies to dishwashers, clothes dryers, furnaces, the list goes on.

And, before we leave you, dare we say it again? Unplug! Unplug! Unplug! And do it smartly. In our posts on energy efficiency and on phantom loads, we provide specific guidance on smart strips and power strips. Check them out!

Combining these eight energy conservation strategies with energy efficiency efforts, you will be able to minimize your footprint and save money on your utility bill. Let us know how these changes go for you!

Energy efficiency improvements at home allow you keep your behavior the same while using less money and saving money on the utility bill

Winter is Coming: 10 Home Energy Efficiency Investments to Save Money & Electricity

For most of us, “fall back” marks the change in seasons—winter is coming! As the days get shorter and the temperature drops, snuggling up with hot chocolate and a good movie (or four!) becomes even more appealing! But while you relax, your appliances and electronic devices are working overtime to keep you cozy. This can lead to a shocker of an electricity bill! And this is where energy efficiency comes in.

When it comes to reducing energy use, energy efficiency tends to receive less attention than innovations like renewable energy. Although it’s often viewed as a less exciting topic, energy efficiency is a powerful way to reduce your energy consumption. 

In this post, we show why this is. We also present 10 effective energy efficiency investments in your home to save electricity and reduce your utility bill. 

Energy Efficiency vs. Energy Conservation

First things first, it’s important to understand what we mean when we say “energy efficiency.”

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average US home uses around 914 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month. Assuming the national average electricity rate of $0.1319 per kWh, his results in a monthly bill of about $120. Energy efficiency and energy conservation share the same end goal: reducing this energy consumption.

On the one hand, you might say this is a case of po-tay-to po-tah-to; and at the end of the day, we believe in embracing both to minimize your footprint (and utility bill). However, we believe it’s important to differentiate the two: 

  • Energy conservation calls for a change in habits. For example, using the clothes dryer less often or layering up and turning down the heat in the winter. 
  • Energy efficiency, on the other hand, refers to ways that you can maintain your same “quality of life” using less energy. 

Knowledge Is Power

To get started with energy efficiency investments, you must first understand how much electricity your home draws from the grid; then you must know what that energy is powering. WattDoesItUse is developing a comprehensive calculator that will allow you to estimate just that. You will be able to use it to identify the best opportunities for energy savings based on your lifestyle. The U.S. Department of Energy provides a similar tool that can help in the meantime.

While these calculators are great starting points, direct measurement is ideal! We recommend either getting a professional home energy audit by a certified inspector or doing it yourself using a home energy monitor, like Sense. Sense slides into your breaker board, clamps around your mains, and reads the electrical current in real-time. It transmits that data to the Sense app via Bluetooth so you can track your home’s energy usage at any given point in time. 

10 Energy Efficiency Investments, From Low-Cost Strategies to Big-Ticket Items

Opt for Central Heating

Heating accounts for almost one third of the average American home electricity bill. Although electric and gas space heaters keep your feet warm and toasty, they are quite inefficient in heating your home. Many space heaters use 1,500 watts of energy per hour to run—as much as a microwave!—and can easily drive up your energy bill. If you insist, make sure your space heater is energy-efficient.

Energy efficiency investments in heating and cooling can provide significant return.
Because heating comprises about one third of home energy use, energy efficiency investments in this area can yield significant returns. Source: Energy Star

Alternatively, smart thermostats are great investments. They can adjust your home’s temperature based on different conditions and whether you’re home or not. They can therefore can save you money while ensuring you are still comfortable whenever you’re home. 

Wash With Cold Water

Did you know that 90% of your washing machine’s energy consumption comes from heating the water? Running the machine only accounts for 10% of the energy it uses. With this statistic in mind, it makes sense that washing your clothes in cold water can make a big difference. Worried cold water won’t get your clothes as clean? There are many detergents that are specially formulated for cold water! 

Maintain Your Dryer

Keep the lint screen and dryer duct clean to help your dryer run more efficiently. You can also decrease toss in a few wool dryer balls when you’re drying heavy sheets or towels. This will help agitate them, accelerating the drying process and allowing a shorter drying cycle. 

Replace Incandescent Bulbs

If you haven’t you switched your bulbs to energy-efficient light bulbs yet, then get moving! Halogen bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs are a couple more dollars to purchase than incandescents. But they are more energy-efficient and offer longer lasting light. In fact, a CFL costs about one third of a comparable incandescent bulb when you account for purchase price, longevity, and the cost to run each bulb. Over the average of 40 bulbs per home, savings from these greener bulbs will certainly add up!

Shut it Off… Smartly

While turning off your lights, electronic devices, and appliances is certainly better than leaving them on. Most electronic devices and appliances continue to pull electricity from the grid when they are plugged in, even if they are in “standby mode.” One of these “energy vampires” won’t make much impact. But collectively, they can be responsible for 10% of your energy bill! In our previous post, we provide strategies to address this “phantom load.” One easy, cost-effective solution is to invest in smart plugs and smart strips.

Seal The Cracks

There are a number of places in your home where small leaks can create big heating (and cooling) inefficiencies. It is likely not cost-effective to replace your windows just to save energy. But if they are drafty, consider caulking any cracks and installing window films to the pains. You can boost efficiency by installing storm windows. If you are replacing windows for other reasons, the additional cost of Energy Star replacement windows (~$15) is worth it!

Install a Storm Door

Even if you have an energy-efficient door, adding a storm door will provide an extra layer of protection from the elements. Storm doors are typically made with low-emissivity glass or a protective coating that can help reduce energy loss by up to 50%. Most storm doors last between 25 and 50 years, and you can get one for as little as $75.

Invest in Insulation

Proper insulation of your home’s walls, attic, and air ducts will slow the rate at which heat flows out of the house (or into the house in summer). This saves your HVAC system from having to work as hard. It therefore reduced the energy required to heat (or cool) your home. 

Properly installed fiberglass, cellulose, and most foam insulation materials can all reduce the heat conduction of a completed wall system. The key is that they are properly installed. For this kind of project, your contractor’s expertise is often more important than the insulation material you choose. Make sure that your contractor uses an infrared camera during or after installation to look for voids. It pays to do it right the first time.

Depending on your home, this kind of energy efficiency measure may require a bit more investment up front. However, the electricity and associated financial savings generated over the lifetime of an installment like this can more than offset the cost. Such an investment can also add value to your home when it comes time to put it on the market.

Tend to Your HVAC System

Insulating your home gives you confidence that your HVAC system won’t have to run any more than necessary. An annual tune-up on your heating and cooling system will do the same by ensuring that your furnace (and air conditioner) is running at peak efficiency. A home heating and cooling check-up improves efficiency by ensuring connections are tight, parts are properly lubricated, and coils are clean. Tuning up your HVAC system can also help you extend the life of your furnace. Who doesn’t want to avoid a $2,000 to $8,000 furnace replacement?!

Invest in Energy Star Products

Energy Star products meet energy-efficient specifications set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. They use an impressive 10-50% less energy than standard appliances. It follows that they help reduce the cost of product operation and associated emissions of greenhouse gases. 

Any new electronic or appliance is an investment, so it can be hard to spend any more than you need to. Energy Star products do sometimes come with a higher upfront cost. But it’s important to view these purchases as investments that accumulate savings over their lifetime. The math is therefore different from a typical purchase that is evaluated solely on its upfront cost.

You can improve upon this investment even further by keeping product configuration in mind as well as you compare products. Take refrigerators/freezers. The refrigerator with a top-mount freezer will use 20-25 percent less energy than a comparably sized side-by-side model. It will often also offer more usable refrigerator and freezer space! Similarly, if your desktop computer is on the struggle bug, consider replacing it with a laptop. Laptops use up to 80% less electricity and run on less energy than their desktop companions.

When it comes to energy efficiency, the best fixes are ones that don’t require you to develop new habits. All the recommendations above will empower you to create a home that does the work for you. That way, you can get back to those weekend cat naps without nightmares of spiking electricity bills!  

unplug to kill vampire loads

6 Ways To Kill Phantom Loads at Home

This Halloween—and throughout the year—you likely have some “vampires” lurking around your home! They may look like everyday objects. But phantom loads (also known as “vampire loads”) are sucking energy from the grid and gouging your bank account unnecessarily. In this post, we share how to find and reduce phantom loads. Address these loads, and you will uncover significant energy (and cost!) savings.

What is a phantom load?

Many appliances and devices in your home rely on electricity even when they’re turned off for a variety of reasons. First, voice-activated devices continuously draw electricity in order to listen for your voice commands. Second, any device that is placed into “stand-by mode” — either to provide continuous displays or to start up more quickly — will continue to pull electricity from the grid. 

While this electronic readiness is convenient, it comes with a price tag, measured in electricity use. A phantom load is any electricity that an appliance or device consumes even when it’s turned off. 

How much electricity do vampires really draw?

These phantom loads can be small for individual appliances. But they can quickly add up over the course of the month or year since they are pulling electricity 24/7.

It can be tricky to put a specific price tag on these energy vampires. The total cost to you depends on a few key factors:

  1. How many of them you have in your home
  2. How much each device or appliance pulls when on “stand-by”
  3. Whether you leave your “vampires” plugged in at all times
  4. The price of electricity in your area

However, a joint study between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and several other agencies put that price at a frightening 10 percent of your monthly energy bill. And according to NRDC, the average household spends $165 – $450 per year on plugged-in devices that aren’t in use. Yikes!

Most products listed on WattDoesItUse include this data (referenced as “Standby”). The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory also provides a useful table, which breaks down the power consumption in standby mode for common household electronics and appliances. You can estimate how much phantom loads cost you every year by combining data from these sources with your electricity rate.

As an example, say you leave your laptop computer charger plugged in all day, every day of the year. On average, that type of charger pulls 4.42 watts of power whether it’s actively charging your computer or not. This means it will use almost 40 kilowatt-hours of electricity every year. Using the average cost of a kWh ($.1310), this plug alone adds about $5 to your annual electric bill. 

Now add in the phantom loads coming from TVs, computer monitors, cable modems and other phone/computer chargers. You could end up with a large enough phantom load to effectively add an additional month of electricity every year!

How can I eliminate phantom loads in my house?

Put your devices to sleep.

If you do nothing else and read no further in this post, put your devices to sleep. Contrary to popular belief, the screensaver on your computer does not save energy. If you’re leaving your work station for more than a few minutes, enable the “power-save” or “sleep” mode.

Find your worst offenders.

The best way to ensure an appliance or device isn’t a source of phantom loads is to unplug it altogether. But first, it might help to identify your worst offenders so you can start by addressing their vampire loads. WattDoesItUse can help with this. But we also recommend measuring power consumption directly. So invest in Kill-A-Watt and Belkin WeMo Insight, and start testing! This will enable you to understand which appliances and devices are drawing the most energy in an idle state.

Use power bars & smart strips.

Once you’ve identified the vampires in your home, you can group them together on power strips. These extension cords automatically shut off energy to plugged-in devices that are only pulling a passive load. They also have a switch so you can manually cut off electricity to all plugged-in devices at once, thus preventing them from continuing to suck energy from the grid. Flip the switch before you leave the house for the day to save electricity and money!

A newer type of power strip, called the “smart strip,” makes this process even easier. When you use a smart strip with your computer or TV, it will switch all peripheral devices (e.g., DVD players and streaming devices) on or off automatically. This means that when you turn on your computer or TV, the peripherals will all turn on, and vise versa.

Install LED lightbulbs.

Replacing your incandescent or florescent bulbs with LEDs can significantly reduce the amount of power your home consumes. While they still draw electricity when not in use, they sip rather than gulp. In addition, while LED bulbs cost more, they can last considerably longer. Many LED bulbs are also “smart,” meaning they can join your Wi-Fi network for automation and control. Some can even change colors!

Invest in smart thermostats

Smart thermostats enable you to easily adjust heating and cooling settings from your smartphone, tablet or smartwatch. As an example, Ecobee3 now works with optional wireless sensors for room-by-room comfort. Many can even automatically optimize settings based on the weather and whether you’re home or not. According to Ecobee, smart thermostat users save an average of 23 percent per year on heating and cooling costs (compared to holding 72˚F).

Choose Energy Star-certified electronics and appliances.

The worst offenders of phantom loads in your house are typically related to entertainment systems (e.g. TVscable boxes and streaming devicesentertainment and video game systems). As we’ve mentioned, phone/device charges and other related equipment can also draw phantom loads. So in addition to taking steps to minimize unnecessary electricity draw, make sure to purchase Energy Star-certified products. These electronic devices and appliances are guaranteed to be more energy efficient while still providing the same performance.

By embracing these pro tips, you will keep your electricity bill from haunting you year-round! Let us know in the comments below which steps you take and how much you’re able to reduce your bill. We can’t wait to hear!

Watt Does It Use Redesign

I’ve been running WattDoesItUse since 2015 and it has been awesome to see the growth of the site. I’m routinely contacted by users of the site where they talk about how much it has helped them find power consumption for their devices. I’m working to take WattDoesItUse to the next level by redesigning it and adding new functionality with my team. Through this redesign, there will be some lost features. They won’t be gone forever, but I want to hear from users that they are valuable and worth being added back in.

Here are the updates that you’ll see on the new site:

  • Improved and simplified search experience – This will make it easier to find products on the site
  • Consolidated categories – I flattened some of the navigation to make it easier to navigate
  • Administrative updates – I’ve added new functionality to make it easier for me to add more products and to reply to your requests
  • Updated UI – Clean implementation which should make it even easier to look at on different devices
  • New blog – I’m now running the blog on wordpress.com to simplify management of it. It will also make it easier for me to add more posts in the future.
  • Removal of User Accounts – I wanted to call this out specifically as I know a lot of your have user accounts. I’m going to be working on an app for iPhone and maybe Android, that will give you access to the calculator that is currently in the user account. I also plan to add more functionality that will make it easier to find and request power consumption for products.

I plan to shutdown the old site on June 15, 2018. All of the products will be migrated over and I plan to add more products on the new site, so no information will be lost. Stay tuned for the new and improved update by the end of 2019. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Thanks,

Corey

10 Tips to be Green While Traveling

Everyone loves a great vacation. Time to relax and unwind and escape for a while. Or maybe you’re traveling on business and are going to be away for a couple of days.

Sometimes this can be a very stressful situation. Whether we’re in the midst of paradise or stress, we sometimes forget our responsibilities to conserve energy. Well get ready, because we are about to dive into ten great ways to save the maximum amount of energy while you’re away.

Read More

How Do You Celebrate Earth Day?

Well, the day is finally here. Earth Day has kicked off and we hope you taking steps to participate! If you’re a bit lost and don’t know exactly what you can do you can check out our Maximize Your Earth Day article. It’ll get you started and motivate you to implement some of these things into your day so you can get the most out of April 22!

As mentioned in Maximize your Earth Day, this could also be your chance to start implementing these steps into your everyday life. Only you can make the decision to start making a change that’ll beautifully impact your life and the future generation’s experience on our planet. Tell someone! Spread the word! Earth Day has expanded a lot over the last 50 years but everyone needs to participate to fully optimize this idea and strengthen the movement.

What are you doing to maximize your day today? Jump down to the comments and let us know what you’ve came up with to get the most out of today!

How You Can Maximize Earth Day

It has been almost 50 years now since John McConnell spoke at the UNESCO Conference in San Francisco and first proposed the idea of Earth Day. It’s been through many stages since then and has immensely expanded. But now we are in a present where the Earth is arguably at it’s most vulnerable. Here we are going to go over numerous ways to contribute to saving the Earth that will ultimately maximize your Earth Day. First let’s go over a bit of the importance and history of Earth Day.

History

In 1969, John McConnell, a luminary with a passion for peace, religion, and science, spoke at a UNESCO conference in San Francisco and proposed a day to honor the Earth. The first day was to be on March 21, 1970, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere, where many predictions about the future were made by various speakers to try to expand awareness. It also took place in 2,000 colleges and universities all over the United States. The date was changed and founded a month later by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson to April 22 and was held that year.

While the April 22 Earth Day was focused on the United States, an organization launched by Denis Hayes, who was the original national coordinator in 1970, took it international in 1990 and organized events in 140+ nations, inflating the expansion of the awareness across our globe. Senator Nelson chose the date of April 22 to maximize the participation of younger people, because of the date not occurring simultaneously with spring break or exams, it doesn’t fall on religious holidays and for the overall enjoyable weather of that time of year.

Today more than 190 countries celebrate Earth Day. In 2017 The March for Science will even be held on the same day, hopefully expanding the mission evermore to the entire world. While we are aware of it however, we must participate in some way and do our part to help your home (the Earth) survive and sustain. So lets get started!

Maximize Your Earth Day!

  • Plant a garden outside. What better way to celebrate than to work with the Earth to provide you food for the future.
  • Buy a reusable water bottle. This is a great way to tone down on the plastic consumption that ends up on the ground in one way or another.
  •  Collect rain in rain barrels to water your garden or even to purify and drink! (Check the legality in your state/country)
  • Wash your laundry in cold water instead of hot.
  • Make your own household cleaners. There are many simple recipes available at your fingertips.
  • Use a clothes line outside to dry your laundry.
  • Substitute all paper products like napkins and plates for better solutions, such as a cloth napkin and a washable glass plate.
  • Support your local restaraunts and stores in your community, especially if they get their product from less than 100 miles away from their location.
  • Pay any bills you have online, it’s actually greener!
  • Turn your computer completely off when you aren’t using it.
  • Replace all (or what you can) of your light bulbs in your home to CFLs or LEDs.

These are all perfect ways to enhance your experience on Earth day and at the same time create opportunities for a for a healthier life in the long run. Maybe think of Earth Day as your starting point, a starting point to actually make a change. If you think you have any great ideas to compliment out list,  get in the comments and tell us about it!

Picking the Best Energy Efficient Projector For You

So you’ve decided to finally get that projector you’ve been thinking about for months. Or maybe you’ve already had one and want to upgrade. If you have been searching, I’m sure you’ve discovered that there are A LOT of options. Choosing the projector that’s right for you and you environment can sometimes be a complicated process if you really care about what you’re buying and also trying to factor in power consumption.

Just Some Thoughts to Get You Started

There are a few types of projectors out there that you can get your hands on. The differences in these usually depend on the source of light, the bulbs. There are LCD, LED, and DLP lamps and all have different characteristics that make them their own. What are the differences in these 3 letter acronyms, you may ask. Well that part is fairly simple.

The LCD (liquid crystal display) is the more of the traditional way of displaying content on the projectors. These types of projectors use what is commonly referred to as a lamp. But, over the last few years, the advancement of projecting and bulb technology has skyrocketed and deserves a mention. These advancements have produced bulbs such as the LED (light-emitting diode) and the DLP (digital light processing). These are definitely the more energy efficient ways to go!

LEDs tend to have a much longer lifespan. On average, they last up to 20,000 hours longer than LCD lamps. This makes the LED more reliable because it fails less often and doesn’t burn out like LCDs. Another factor is, LCDs have very hazardous mercury inside them, which is not a factor with the LEDs. LED seems to already be the best option if lower power consumption is your number one goal. Also, The LED lighting systems provide a larger number of colors and also more saturated colors, making the picture appear brighter.

One disadvantage that the LED system has however, is the inability to be as bright as the lamp based systems. This would present a problem if you are in a room that you just can’t get dark enough.

DLPs

Digital light processing is a solid state technology and only uses a single device to produce images. This helps in the production by allowing manufacturers to make smaller, thinner projectors than the competitor systems, which require three devices to function. One big advantage that DLPs have over LEDs is that dust does not affect them. The biggest enemy with LEDs is the dust. The filter in an LED system needs to be cleaned very regularly, which is not the case with the DLP systems.

 

Conclusion

Regardless which projector technology you choose, make sure you look up the power consumption of your existing or future projector.

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