Watt Does It use

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

Author: Hanna Marcus

Solar panels are gaining popularity as a leading option to integrate renewable energy at home.

Energy Efficiency: The Critical First Step To Integrate Renewable Energy At Home

When you buy products through links in this post to integrate renewable energy at home, we may earn an affiliate commission. These commissions do not affect our product recommendations. Click here to learn more.

It feels like our world is constantly a-buzz with words like energy efficiency, renewable energy, environmentally friendly, and clean energy revolution. We’ll be the first to say that when it comes to bettering our world by choosing to integrate renewable energy at home and other aspects of your life, we’re very much on board!

At WattDoesItUse, one of our goals is to cut through the chaos and confusion surrounding those important words so you understand what they mean, the value behind them, and how to implement clean energy in your daily life by integrating all of them.

So today, we’re addressing the first step in a super important (and sometimes intimidating sounding) area—renewable energy.

It’s not uncommon for most people to think that renewable energy is a concept best left to the experts. But we’re here to tell you exactly the opposite—you can be an integral part of America’s clean energy future by choosing to integrate renewable energy at home.

So in this post, we provide a complete breakdown of everything you need to know about home renewable energy.

What Is Renewable Energy & Why Should I Use It?

First things first, let’s answer the questions that are likely of every reader’s mind—what exactly is renewable energy and how do I implement that in my own home? Let’s take this one step at a time.

What Is Renewable Energy?

Renewable energy, also known as clean energy, comes from natural resources or processes that are constantly being replenished. These sources either do not deplete or can be replenished within a human’s lifetime. When we talk about clean energy or renewable energy, we typically refer to methods like wind, geothermal, biomass, and hydropower.

At its very core, the goal of renewable energy is to replace “dirty” energy methods (i.e., fossil fuels) and reduce lower greenhouse gases while offering the same reliability.

Though renewable energy seems like a new concept, it’s actually been around for a very long time. The idea of harnessing the power of nature for heating, lighting, transporting, and more have been around since about 200 BC. It’s only in the past 500 years that humans have turned toward those dirty energy sources.

But as the need for finding renewable energy sources increases, we’ve turned back to nature in search of cleaner energy. In fact, renewable energy currently accounts for about 1/8 of U.S. power generation. Further, renewable energy expansion is happening in more than just power generation plants. Homes across the United States are investing in home renewable energy processes in order to produce the clean energy they need.

Why Is Home Renewable Energy Important?

So, we understand what renewable energy is and why it’s valuable on a large scale, but what about home renewable energy? Why does a small change in someone’s daily life and home energy process—a solar panel on their roof, a functional windmill in their yard, etc.—make a difference?

Home renewable energy is important for a ton of reasons.

  • It might sound obvious, but we’re taking from energy resources that can’t run out—if we’re already adapting to using our unlimited resources, we can leave the finite resources be. Clean energy is the most sustainable option for energy production.
  • Renewable energy is clean energy. It produces little to no waste products like carbon dioxide or other chemical pollutants, meaning it has minimal impact on the environment. That means your home-base, your personal environment, will be cleaner and healthier.
  • It might seem like altering your own home to run off clean energy is such a small change it won’t make a difference, but it does. Even if you can’t totally power your home via renewable energy, the smallest change makes a difference—and tiny changes can add up over time.

The First Step to Integrate Renewable Energy At Home: Reduce Then Renew

Feeling pretty sold on integrating renewable energy in your home? We don’t blame you—we’re pretty wild about the idea, too. Our best advice to you is this: focus on energy efficiency first, then apply renewable energy.

Now, you might be wondering why we’ve been talking up renewable energy if we were just going to divert you away to a different strategy.

But these strategies go hand in hand. If you simply slap on solar panels before maximizing energy efficiency and reducing energy consumption first, you might not reap the full benefits that renewable energy can provide.

How To Improve Your Home’s Energy Efficiency

First things first, gain a firm grasp on your energy & electricity bills to learn where your main costs are coming from and embark on a home energy audit. This way, you can get a better idea of what type of energy consumption you’re dealing with. You can analyze where you’re wasting key energy and what appliances are the key drivers behind energy consumption in your home. Then deduce how you can improve your energy efficiency.

These changes can be easy:

Once you’ve tackled the basics of energy efficiency to reduce energy consumption, you’ll be in a great position to take full advantage of any renewable energy options in which you invest.

Options for Home Renewable Energy

We won’t dive into every single option out there for home renewable energy (we doubt you actually want to read 20 pages on the subject, and we could seriously talk about renewable energy all day long). But there are straightforward and cost-effective ways to integrate renewable energy at home. Here is the “Cliff Notes” version of the five most viable ways to really invest in home renewable energy:

Rooftop Solar Panels

This is one of the most popular—and potentially cost-effective—ways to integrate renewable energy at home. Solar panels, or photovoltaic panels, are typically placed on the roof in a yard and capture the sun’s energy and convert it to energy. There are a growing number of resources to help you determine the right panel capacity for your home based on location and intended use. Many utilities also provide information and support to integrate this electricity into your service and sometimes even to help finance your investment. As an example, take a look at PSE&G’s Solar & Renewable Energy website.

Solar panels are one of the most approachable options to integrate renewable energy at home. Source: Science in HD
Solar panels are one of the most approachable options to integrate renewable energy at home. Source: Science in HD
Solar Ovens

Though solar ovens might not be the ultimate renewable energy solution, they definitely make a difference! Solar ovens trap sunlight to heat food and passively cook food, too! They cook food for free, can be used anywhere, and can work even when there’s a power outage. All they require is a little sunshine.

Wind Turbines

Wind turbines require significant plots of land in more rural areas and are a bigger upfront financial investment than solar panels. However, if you have enough land, a wind turbine can be a great way to power your home! Wind power is more stable than solar (typically) and it only takes sustained winds of 10 mph to produce a significant amount of power! If you want to invest in this technology to support its growth but don’t have capacity for it at home, consider investing in wind energy companies!

Wind energy might not be appropriate for most, but it is an option to integrate renewable energy at home. Source: RawFilm
Wind energy might not be appropriate for most, but it is an option to integrate renewable energy at home. Source: RawFilm
Solar AC

Sounds weird, right? You use the hot sun to power a cold AC unit? It might seem strange, but it’s a real thing! Solar air conditioning employs the same principles of a solar water heater and it can cut costs, save a substantial amount of money, and even be configured to produce heat, too.

Geothermal Heat Pump

The geothermal heat pump, also known as a ground source heat pump, provides space heating and cooling as well as water heating. Because the ground remains at relatively constant temperatures throughout the year, a geothermal heat pump transfers that heat into your home during the winter and transfers it back into the ground in the summer.

Over the coming months, we will publish posts that dive into each of these five primary avenues to integrate renewable energy at home. Each post will include a dive into the technology, how to get started with it, financing options available, and an overall business case so that you can see how each stands to help you save money while also helping to save the planet!

If you’re not quite ready for this kind of commitment, there are an increasing number of solar-powered devices—from device chargers and computer keyboards, to lamps and flashlights—that can help you make smaller dents in your utility bill before taking the leap.

Save Money & Help Save The Planet: Choose to Integrate Renewable Energy At Home

Renewable energy doesn’t seem like such a massive undertaking now, does it?

We won’t lie—it isn’t always easy to integrate renewable energy at home, but in the long run, it will save you money, help you conserve energy, and make the world a better (cleaner!) place. As a first step, prioritize energy efficiency to minimize your home’s demand for power and stay tuned for more in-depth pieces on each of the renewable options to choose from.

If you’re after more information on energy conservation, alternative energy sources, or even 101 guides on electricity, subscribe to keep up with our regularly updated WattDoesItUse blog! Stay in the loop on energy trends, the latest must-have energy-efficient devices, and insight on living a cleaner, more energy-efficient lifestyle!  

Create an energy-efficient home HVAC environment to keep your home cozy and utility bill low.

Crank Up the Heat, Part 2: 7 Steps To Creating An Energy-Efficient Home HVAC Environment

If you’ve read part of one of our Crank Up the Heat Series, then you’re basically a home heating pro, right? Well, even if that isn’t totally true, you do have a pretty good grasp on what type of energy-efficient furnace is right for your home. If you haven’t read, read it now for tips on how to pick the best energy-efficient heater to keep your home warm and your utility bills low this winter! But selecting the best heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system to manage your home’s temperature is just part of the equation. For that, you’re going to want to read this second piece in order to create an energy-efficient home HVAC environment.

Energy Efficiency Goes Beyond the HVAC System Itself

As you probably already know, your HVAC system is a vital piece of your home’s basic functioning. It helps to monitor, regulate, and control the environmental conditions inside your home. It makes sense, right? HVAC does stand for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning—the main elements of your home’s environmental conditions.

The ideal balance for any HVAC system is that keeps your house comfy (warm or cool, depending on the time of year, and properly ventilated) without expending excess energy or costing you unnecessary money. But often, even the best energy-inefficient heater or air conditioner can waste huge amounts of energy and cost you an arm and a leg. This is because your home HVAC environment has holes in it (literally and figuratively!).

But here’s the cool thing: even tiny changes to your HVAC can make enormous difference in its energy efficiency. Which, leads to the most important question you’re going to ask for the rest of the yearhow can you ensure that you have a truly energy-efficient home HVAC environment?  

In this post, we’re going to break down the top seven ways youcan ensure an energy-efficient home HVAC environment so your furnace and air conditioner(s) produce maximum impact with minimal energy requirements.

Keep in mind, there are dozens of ways to ensure that you’re saving power, cutting costs, and increasing your HVAC energy efficiency, but we chose these seven because they are tried and true and will give you the best bang for your buck!

The Top 7 Ways to Create an Energy-Efficient Home HVAC Environment

Like we said before, these top seven aren’t the only methods to ensure that you’re running an energy-efficient HVAC environment. But in our experience, these tried-and-true strategies can provide the most return for your time and financial investments.

1. Insulate Your Home

One of the best things you can do to ensure that your HVAC system functions as efficiently as possible is to make sure that your home’s insulation is up to snuff. When you insulate your home properly (walls, windows, roof, and don’t forget the air ducts!), there’s less chance of warm or cool air escaping. So your HVAC doesn’t have to work overtime to keep a steady temperature in your home. Take a look at your walls, your windows, your pipes, and ducts—are you losing valuable air through these avenues? Seal any leaks so your HVAC doesn’t need to work double-time to do its job properly. At the end of the day, it’s possible that your HVAC is doing its job totally fine, it’s just the insulation (or lack there-of!) that’s foiling your energy conservation efforts.

2. Retrofit Your HVAC

If you’re already dealing with a large, antiquated, and energy-intensive system that’s otherwise running well and has been aptly maintained, consider retrofitting that old HVAC system to transform its efficiency. When you retrofit an HVAC system, you’re essentially installing new technology into an older, well-functioning system.

In a way, it’s like replacing an engine in a car—the new engine is going to save you a ton of money on gas but won’t cost you as much money as totally replacing your car. When you replace pieces of your old HVAC system (like the air condenser fan or the compressor, etc.) with new parts that are far more energy-efficient, you can optimize and extend the life of your old system without shopping for and financing a new one (depending on how well your old unit is functioning, your wallet will probably thank you).

3. Outfit Your House with Smart Thermostats

A huge contributor to an inefficient home HVAC environment is—that’s right, we’re gonna go there!—human error.

Come on, we’ve all done it—you leave the house and forget to adjust the thermostat, leaving it way too hot (or in the summer, too cold) and wasting a ton of energy when no one’s even in the house to enjoy it. We’ve done it, too! We can empathize!

But a smart thermostat in your home that links up directly to your HVAC can remove human error from the equation. With a smart thermostat, you can automate temperatures settings and schedules to ensure you never waste more energy than necessary again. Bonus points: you can usually connect most smart thermostats with your smart home hub, LED bulbs, and other smart appliances and devices to help with your overarching energy management.

4. Preserve Airflow By Regularly Cleaning Your HVAC

The more debris and dust clogging up your HVAC, the less efficiently it’s going to run. Believe us, we don’t love cleaning any more than you do, but these are the facts. If you’re looking to keep your energy efficiency high and your utility costs low, we suggest that you preserve your airflow by cleaning out all the gunk in your HVAC on a regular basis. While you’re at it, assess your furniture, rugs, and décor to make sure you’re not blocking your HVAC vents—that will also detract from an energy-efficient home HVAC environment.  

5. Invest In Energy-Efficient Equipment

Don’t be afraid to put your money into quality, energy-efficient equipment. Like we told you in Part 1 of Crank Up the Heat, not all equipment is created equal. The fact of the matter is, even though virtually everything uses energy, there are some systems that are specifically designed to reduce the amount of energy they use to do the same job of comparable models. That’s the type of equipment you want to invest in.

If you do replace your HVAC that’s at least 10 years old, you’re likely going to get a system that’s way more energy-efficient. Newer models have a higher SEER rating, which means more HVAC energy efficiency—today’s SEER ratings are around 14-18 (which, compared to the old days, is a big deal). And, of course, with any energy-efficient equipment, we suggest looking for the ENERGY STAR logo!

6. Be Conscious About Maintenance

A functional HVAC doesn’t happen magically. You’ll have to put in the work to ensure you’re scheduling the necessary maintenance to get everything taken care.

Regular maintenance will ensure that your equipment is running smoothly and even prevent larger issues from arising. Schedule your appointments at the end of both heating and cooling seasons to ensure everything is functioning properly. Even though the maintenance costs can feel unnecessary. But we can guarantee it’s a lot cheaper than having to pay for huge repairs and higher-than-necessary utility bills down the line.

7. Don’t Overlook Your Air Filters

As we mentioned above, a clean HVAC is an energy-efficient HVAC. Like we mentioned with cleaning your HVAC, clogged air filters can get in the way of an energy-efficient home HVAC environment. Replacing your air filters regularly can make a huge difference in your system’s energy-efficiency.

Don’t Just Heat Your Home, Create a Heating Environment That’s Energy Efficient

Dropping a ton of cash on the best energy-efficient HVAC elements — furnace and central air conditioning system — can certainly achieve some of the energy savings you’re looking for this year and beyond. But if you don’t create an overarching energy-efficient environment, you won’t realize the full possible savings. With these seven straight forward steps, you can create a comfortable home this winter, spring, summer and fall while at the same time lowering your utility bills. So jot ‘em down, take action, and then share them with your friends!

Have a tip that you’ve learned from your energy-efficient home HVAC environment that we didn’t include? We want to hear it! Share the love in the comments below—your fellow energy efficiency aficionados will thank you!

If it’s advice on other ways to cut energy costs you’re after, like ways you can conserve more energy in your daily routines or energy-efficient gifts for an upcoming birthday, our blog is the perfect place for you to be! Subscribe here to stay in the loop for weekly updates!

Implement new year's resolutions for energy savings to save money and help save the planet in 2020. Source: Jamie Street

6 New Year’s Resolutions for Energy Savings in 2020

When you buy products through links in this post to support your new year’s resolutions for energy savings, we may earn an affiliate commission. These commissions do not affect our product recommendations. Click here to learn more.

2020 is coming, and we’ve got just one question for you—are you ready? Even if you’re not totally on board with the whole “new year, new you” mantra (and hey, we don’t blame you), it is undoubtedly one of the best times to refresh your personal goals. No matter what you’re looking to improve, it’s likely you’ve got something on your list for 2020 new year’s resolutions.

Some people are trying to tone up, others are looking to achieve new career goals, others might be looking to commit to their mental health or personal relationships. But you know what else you should add to that list? New year’s resolutions for energy savings!

Why Make New Year’s Resolutions for Energy Saving?

2020 is a brand-new opportunity. We might argue it’s even an energy-efficient light shining amongst the darkness of energy waste!

Sure, it might sound intimidating—all new year’s resolutions do. But together, we’ll take it one day a time to make better, more energy-efficient choices as we charge forward into 2020. If you’re looking for a little inspiration to put energy conservation at the forefront of your year, you’re in the right place. We’ve gathered new year’s resolutions for energy savings to save energy, save money, and help save the planet in 2020.

Without further ado, we present you, the six best new year’s resolutions for energy savings in 2020.

I Resolve to: Audit My Home & Understand Key Drivers of Energy

One of the best ways to really kick your 2020 energy conservation efforts into gear is to gift yourself a home energy audit. Reading this and wondering, “What the heck is a home energy audit? Don’t worry, we’re not going to just drop this on you and move on.

Essentially, a home energy audit is a professional inspection of your home that analyzes your energy usage and identifies where energy is being wasted. We’ve got an entire article with all the details here. A home energy audit is this perfect first step if you’re looking to get your energy conservation on lock.

If you’ve already checked this important box, we suggest going back to the results and checking out our little 101 guide about key drivers of energy in your home. This might help you better understand where you’re wasting energy and how you can improve. And while you’re at it, we suggest you resolve to get a firmer grasp on how to read your energy bill. This way, you can have a clearer picture of all the inputs and outputs—where you’re losing money and wasting energy and how you can adjust it!

As a new year's resolution for energy savings, invest in energy-efficient LED bulbs!
As a new year’s resolution for energy savings, invest in energy-efficient LED bulbs!
Source: Skye Studios

I Resolve to: Swap For the Best Energy-Efficient Lighting

If you’re looking to take a very, very small step that can add up in a big way over time as one of your new year’s resolutions for energy savings, we absolutely suggest you start with your lighting.

Switching out your light bulbs and light fixtures for more energy-efficient lighting is one of the simplest ways to conserve electricity overall. Opting for lights like LEDs might seem like an insignificant change, but it can actually make an enormous difference.

Think about it this way—the average American home has about 50 lightbulbs in it. Let’s say all of those are incandescent. When you switch from incandescent bulbs to ENERGY STAR certified bulbs, which use about 79-90 percent less energy and will last about 15 times longer, you’ll end up saving about $80 in energy bills per bulb over the course of that bulb’s lifetime. See? These things add up!

We’ve got a whole blog post on LEDs and how they can make a significant difference in your energy efficiency. Check it out here.

unplug to kill vampire loads
Invest in smart strips or power strips to eliminate phantom load in your home in 2020. Source: Steve Johnson

I Resolve to: Stop the Phantom Load

No, we’re not telling you to call Ghostbusters, Inc. to rid your home of spooks—we’re just talkin’ about phantom loads (although they are spooky!). Phantom loads are electric loads drawn from appliances or electronics when they are plugged in but not in use. They are undoubtedly around your home, wasting energy and adding to your electricity bill.

We devoted a whole piece to helping you tackle this issue—check it out here! In short, the best way to eliminate phantom loads is to use power strips with an on-and-off switch—then make sure you’re regularly switching that power strip off when it’s not in use. Smart strips now make this job even easier!

I Resolve to: Give my HVAC System a Good Inspection

It’s possible that your HVAC system is wasting energy and costing you more money, and there are plenty of ways to remedy this!

We’re not going to dive too deep into this new year’s resolution to save energy, because we could honestly talk about it for hours. But as we discuss in our previous post, inspecting your HVAC system to ensure your home’s walls and ducts are properly insulated and your HVAC appliances are properly maintained will go a long way towards saving energy, saving money, and by extension, helping to save the planet.

Thinking your furnace might not make it through the winter? We recommend giving our blog a read to identify the best energy-efficient heaters on the market.

I Resolve to: Upgrade Appliances to Energy-Efficient Models

We’re not going to sit here and pretend that it’s entirely feasible for every single reader out there to just get up and swap their appliances for more energy-efficient models. We understand that appliances can be expensive (especially when it comes to high-tech, energy-conserving ones), but if you’re in the position where you need to replace one or more of your older models this year, we absolutely recommend doing your research to invest in an energy-efficient model.

The WattDoesItUse site will be getting a makeover and is a great place to compare the power consumption of any appliance or device you could be wondering about. Definitely take advantage of that resource! In addition, look for the ENERGY STAR logo on devices as an additional guarantee that you’re getting an appliance or device that meets strict energy efficiency standards.

The initial cost will be a bit higher, we’ll just tell you that now. But the savings (both energy-wise and currency-wise) will leave your mouth hanging open for years to come—in a good way! Whether that means you want to switch out your TV, your hot water heater, or other types of appliances (like your kitchen ranges), there are tons of options out there! Subscribe to the WattDoesItUse Blog stay on top of the latest product reviews.

As a new year's resolution to save energy, prioritize energy efficiency in how you do your household chores
Energy efficiency improvements at home allow you keep your behavior the same while using less money and saving money on the utility bill. Source: Jason Briscoe

I Resolve to: Re-evaluate How I Do My Household Chores

Sometimes, the simplest solutions can make the biggest differences. This year, resolve to rethink and re-evaluate your everyday routine, including your household chores. By simply engraining good habits and making more energy-efficient device purchases,  you truly can cut down on your energy bill and conserve more energy, it just takes a little extra thought and consideration. With genuinely easy solutions like meal prepping, swapping out the vacuum for a broom, using colder water temps to wash clothes and dishes, and using the high-spin cycle, you can make a sincere difference in your energy conservation efforts.

What are your New Year’s Resolutions for Energy Savings?

At the end of the day, even small changes—like switching light bulbs or checking for leaks in your windows—can make an enormous difference in your 2020 energy bills. So what are you waiting for? Will you take on some of our recommended new year’s resolutions for energy savings above? Or do you have some of your own? Share the wealth in the comments below!

In 2020, we’re planning to do everything in our power to conserve energy. And we’re committed to do everything in our power to provide the resources and knowledge that you need to maximize your energy savings, too.

If you’re looking for even more ways to kick your energy efficiency efforts into high gear this year, you’re in the right place. At WattDoesItUse, we’re all about providing you with the power consumption of every device in your home as well as year-round tips, tricks, and advice to put that information to action and get your energy efficiency on lock.

Consider us your go-to blog for saving energy, saving money, and helping to save the earth! Subscribe here to stay in-the-loop on ways you can better understand electricity (and how it works), change your energy consumption, and even change the world for the better by using less power in your daily life!

As a new year's resolution for energy savings, invest in energy-efficient LED bulbs!

Let There Be Light: The Best Energy-Efficient Lighting For Your Home

When you buy the best energy-efficient lighting options through links in this post, we may earn an affiliate commission.  These commissions do not affect our product recommendations. Click here to learn more.

Most of us are on a mission to conserve energy in our homes. Whether we’re trying to do right by our planet, save some cash on our electricity bill, that is), or a mix of the two, most of us are after a more energy-efficient home and lifestyle. At WattDoesitUse, we’re all about coming up with ways to help you save energy, save money, and help save the earth. So when it comes to power consumption in your home, you better believe we’re going to do everything in our power to help guide you toward the most energy-efficient path possible. That’s where the best energy-efficient lighting comes into play.

This is because choosing energy-efficient lighting is one of the simplest ways to conserve electricity. Not only is it incredibly affordable to invest in (no big, upfront costs for lightbulbs like you might see with solar panels or energy-efficient appliances), but it’s also virtually no-hassle to switch out your lightbulbs and light fixtures for more energy-efficient options.

But, how can you tell which type is the best energy-efficient lighting? What’s the big deal about energy-efficient lighting in the first place?

In this post, we shed some light (pun intended!) on why energy-efficient lighting matters and the best energy-efficient lighting investments to make in your home.

Energy-Efficient Lighting: What’s the Big Deal?

You might be thinking right now: “Lightbulbs? Really? Do they make that big of a difference?”

And if you are, you’re not alone. But that’s exactly why we were inspired to write this article. Because ultimately, what you choose to light your home is actually really important for both energy conservation and cost-cutting.

Think of it this way—even if you’re not totally obsessed with saving the planet or conserving energy for environmental purposes, you probably aren’t totally into the idea of waste—both from an energy and a money standpoint.

When you neglect to opt for the most energy-efficient lighting, you do end up neck-deep in waste. You’re wasting energy, which isn’t great from a sustainability or climate action standpoint, but you’re also wasting your hard-earned money. No Bueno!

We’ll be the first to admit that opting for energy-efficient lightbulbs like LEDs (we’ll get to that part in a minute) seems like an insignificant change—but small changes over time accumulate to have a significant impact. When you make small switches for more energy-efficient products, things start to add up, and a little can go a long way.

On top of that, the average American home has 50 light bulbs in it. And here’s a little teaser for the next section: if all of those are incandescent bulbs and you change them out for ENERGY STAR certified bulbs, which use 70-90 percent less energy and last at least 15 times longer, that means you are saving about $80 in energy bills per bulb over the course of its lifetime. Doesn’t sound so insignificant to us!  

Good-Bye Incandescent, Hello LEDs

As we mentioned in the previous section, you don’t have to revert to candlelight to save money on your lighting-related energy costs. There are more energy-efficient options than ever which allow you to light your home using the same amount of light for less money.

Most homes use about 5 percent of their energy budget on lighting. If that’s not surprising to you, then you’ve probably already got a solid grasp on the key drivers of energy and electricity use in your home. (If you don’t, don’t sweat it! Read up on electricity basics and utility bill basics to get up to speed.)

While there are a ton of different ways to cut back on the energy you use to light your home, one of the easiest ways is to switch out your dated, energy-wasting incandescent lightbulbs for light-emitting diode light bulbs, or as they’re most commonly referred to, LEDs.

LEDs: The Best Energy-Efficient Lighting Technology for Your Home

LED bulbs—especially ENERGY STAR rated LEDsuse at least 75 percent less energy and can last up to 25 times longer than regular, incandescent lighting.

And the best part about LED lighting is that they can be used in almost the exact same way as other light sources, but they provide some seriously unique benefits. For example:

  • Size: LEDs are super small (about the size of a pinch of pepper) and use a mix of color to make a white LED light. This means that you can choose from a larger variety of bulb sizes depending on where you’re seeking to use them
  • Light Quality: Because LED bulbs emit light in a specific direction, you likely won’t need to deal with reflectors to help you trap and direct light—which, for specific tasks, makes this a very efficient option.
  • Heat: LED bulbs don’t release heat at the same rate that incandescent do. In fact, incandescent bulbs release about 90-95 percent of their energy as heat and only use about 5-10 percent of energy to light—LEDs are basically the opposite. This contributes to their energy efficiency and also minimizes heating of ambient air (which can in turn help your heating and cooling costs).

If you’re not totally convinced, check out this great chart from Earth Easy. It compares LEDs, CFLs, and incandescent light bulbs to give you a better idea of their projected lifespans, their cost of electricity, and total household savings, too.

LEDs Promise Electricity Savings

According to Energy.Gov, by 2027, widespread use of LEDs could save about 348TWh of electricity—which, to put it simply, is about the same amount of electric power as 44 large power plants operating at 1000 megawatts each.

Need us to put that in a different, more relatable perspective?

That’s about $30 billion of total savings at our modern-day average electricity prices. Now, that’s something we can get behind.

How To Integrate LEDs In Your Home

We love LED lights for lots of reasons, but most of all, we love how versatile and dynamic they are. In no way will you be giving up performance in your efforts to save energy and save money.

LED lights aren’t a one-trick-pony. You can use them in almost any kind of light fixture in place of your incandescent lights or CDFs. And by replacing your home’s five most frequently used light fixtures or bulbs with ENERGY STAR certified LED lights, you can save about $45 annually on your electricity bill.

So, where can you use LED lights? The shower answer: basically everywhere.

The longer answer?

  • Recessed downlights: lights in your hallways, your bathrooms, your offices. There are at least 500 million recessed downlights installed in the US. Imagine if we switched out all of those and decreased downlight wattage by 75 percent (or more).  
  • Kitchen under-the-cabinet lights: LEDs are super tiny, so they’re perfect for small spots under your cabinets.
  • Replacement bulbs: opt for LED bulbs to replace your old high-wattage incandescent bulbs as they die out
  • Holiday lights: we are so excited about this application, we even wrote an entire blog post about this! We definitely recommend giving it a read for a more environmentally-friendly holiday season.
  • Industrial lights: you’ll likely find LEDs in street lights and outdoor areas because they’re so efficient and so directional. Offices and warehouses can benefit from those advantages, too.
Investing in the best energy-efficient lighting for your home, you can enjoy the same light with less energy use and financial waste. Source: Kevin Reinaldo
Investing in the best energy-efficient lighting for your home, you can enjoy the same light with less energy use and financial waste. Source: Kevin Reinaldo

Let There Be (Energy-Efficient) Light!

Ultimately, swapping out your lights can make a huge difference in your energy- and cost-cutting efforts. At the end of the day, it doesn’t always take an enormous gesture to make a difference—mindful choices can go a long way.

The best place to start? With your lights.

Let us know how this change goes, and share the wealth with your friends and family! ‘Tis the season for new year’s resolutions, and investing in the best energy-efficient lighting for your home is a great one.

 Looking for other ways to measure and improve your home’s energy efficiency? Once you’ve got the light thing on lock, consider a home energy audit to help you better understand where your home is energy in-efficient and how you can continue to change your behavior to better emphasize energy conservation in your daily life.

Select one of the best energy-efficient heaters to achieve comfort and energy saving goals.

Crank Up the Heat: The Best Energy-Efficient Heaters

If you’re anything like us during the long, frigid winter months, you’re probably constantly toeing the line between cranking up the heater in your home to full blast (if only to pretend you’re on a tropical island) and trying to maintain some semblance of energy efficiency by leaving your thermostat at a respectable (but gosh, not quite warm enough) temp.

But who says you have to choose?

The sad truth is that every heater requires energy. But not all heaters are created equal. Some are far more energy-efficient than other antiquated models. This means that you can run that heater how you want (well, within reason) withoutthe fear of wasting a ton of excess energy (or running up your utility bill, for that matter).

Looking for a warmer, more enjoyable holiday season? a December to remember where you don’thave to wear mittens inside? A cavalier “who cares” attitude when Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow and announces six more weeks of winter? Then this post is for you!

Read on for our list of the best energy-efficient heaters on the market!

Let’s Settle This: Should You Buy a Gas Furnace or a Heat Pump?

Before we dive into that glorious list of the best energy-efficient heaters, which is going to save you from a chilly winter and a crazy high energy bill, we need to settle an important question: which is more energy-efficient, a gas furnace or heat pump system?

Before we take a stab at answering that question, let’s describe each of these systems.

Gas Furnaces and Heat Pumps, A 101

A gas furnace is a heating mechanism that relies on a fuel source and fan to heat your home. In some cases that fuel source is oil. But for a gas furnace, it’s natural gas. The furnace will burn gas in a combustion chamber, then the resulting hot air will force itself through carefully structured ductwork and into your home with the help of a fan. Because a furnace uses actual flames to create heat, it’s often said that a furnace is likely to blow warmer air than a heat pump.

Which brings us to our next definition. A heat pump is a system that doesn’t use fuel to generate heat. Instead, it cleverly pulls heat from the outside air and gradually warms your home. Think about a heat pump as an air conditioning unit working in reverse. Instead of taking air from outside and cooling it, it takes outside air and reverses its refrigeration cycle to fill your home up with heat!

The Pros & Cons of Gas Furnaces and Heat Pumps

So which is more energy-efficient?

Honestly, it depends on where you live, what your winter looks like, and how warm you really need your home to be.

However, while at the end of the day the best choice for you depends on many factors, the general rule of thumb is that heat pumps are the best energy-efficient heaters for your home. Heat pumps are particularly great choices for folks who don’t see intense, long-lasting winters (for that reason, they’re hugely popular for Southeastern United States winters where the winters are mild and short).

That said, though gas furnaces are generally less energy efficient and use older technology, they are great options for people who need to keep their homes at a higher temperature and endure long, intense winters. A furnace is less mechanical, so by default, it’s less likely to break—less maintenance and repairs are a plus from financial and waste material standpoints! In addition, as we mentioned, it’s well-known for spitting out warmer air more quickly, heating up your house in a flash. About 50 percent of homes are still heating up with gas furnaces to this day.

Because each type of heater really does have its own pros and cons, we’ve provided our top three picks of each model!

The Best Energy-Efficient Heaters: Gas Furnaces

If you’ve decided to opt for a reliable, speedy gas furnace, get ready for a warm winter! But the question remains—which of the gas furnaces out there are the most energy-efficient? Here are a few options we think are worth bumping to the top of your list!

Bryant Furnaces

The same parent company as Carrier, Day & Night, and Bryant furnaces. So Bryant furnaces offer the same reliable technology, down to the same internal components. They are average-priced furnaces with great reliability, and they are well-known for their high-efficiency features specifically designed to conserve energy and save you money. Some of their furnace models (Bryant Evolution 987M) can offer you a modulating gas furnace that runs at up to 98.3 percent efficiency as measured by the industry metric: Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) . Best of all, most of their furnaces are ENERGY STAR certified.

Rheem Furnaces

With an impressive AFUE rating of up to 98.7 percent, Rheem’s Prestige Series R98V is all about blowing hot air while keeping energy efficiency at the forefront. This model—along with several other Rheem Furnace models—is ENERGY STAR qualified.

Amana Furnaces

Though Amana furnaces are not always credited as the most energy-efficient furnaces in the room, they do make specific models that ensure energy efficiency is a priority. One of these is the AMVM97 model,  a two-stage furnace that runs at up to 98 percent AFUE. Just make sure that if you shop Amana, you’re opting for an energy-efficient model like this one, as their standard models tend to be less than impressive when it comes to energy conservation.

Have another model in mind but you’re not sure if it’s energy-efficient? Check out ENERGY STAR’s certified furnace guide here to double-check the model you’re considering! With this certification in the northern half of the US, you can guarantee the furnace you’re looking at will be up to 15 percent more energy efficient than other baseline models (which can save you an average of $85 yearly).  In the southern half of the US, you can count on these certified furnaces to be about 11 percent more efficient than standard models (meaning you can save an average of $30 per year in energy costs).

The Best Energy-Efficient Heaters: Heat Pumps

Heat pumps won you over? Congratulations—you’re about to have a much more comfortable winter while knowing that you are leveraging very energy-efficient technology! But remember, not every heat pump is created equally. Here’s our list of top-performing energy-efficient heat pumps that deserve your attention.

Daikin DZ20VC with ComfortNet Control

This high-efficiency home heat pump is powered by a two-stage scroll compressor that’s guaranteed to consistently warm your home. The controller (that’s right, heat pumps are fancy, new-age technology that comes with a techy controller!) is a digitally programmable thermostat that features options to prioritize energy-efficiency or comfort. Of course, this heat pump is ENERGY STAR certified.

Lennox XC20 Series with iComfort Wi-Fi Control

Don’t be confused by this product’s listing as an air conditioner. Like most heat pumps, this Lennox can pump both warm and cold air into your home. This model can also control efficiency, humidity, and comfort with a fully communicating platform. A reliable option, this energy-efficient model is ENERGY STAR certified.

Fujitsu RLF Series with IntesisHome App

Another ENERGY STAR qualified product, this Fujitsu line features is a pump that you can operate via an app on your smartphone (so fancy, right?) for optimal energy efficiency control. Further, this system includes advanced diagnostics with system monitoring, so you can be sure your heat pump is functioning at optimal levels at all times.

PRO TIP: The ENERGY STAR site has a long, long list of options when it comes to energy-efficient heat pumps. If you’re looking to really dig through the list to choose the best heat pump for your home, click here.

You Don’t Have To Freeze This Winter—Just Heat Smarter!

See, it’s not as black-and-white as freeze without heat or waste bundles of energy in the name of warmth. By investing in one of the best energy-efficient heaters, you can strike a balance of conserving energy and saving money while remaining comfortable.

Think we missed a great energy-efficient heater on our list? Have you found the ultimate in terms of the best energy-efficient heaters? We want to hear about it! Drop a line in our comment section and share your heater suggestions with our readers—the more we all know about energy conservation opportunities, the better.

If you’re looking for more advice on how to cut energy costs, conserve more energy in your daily life, or even are seeking out awesome, energy-efficient gift ideas, our blog is where it’s at! Subscribe here to stay in the loop with our regularly updated blog!

Buying the best energy-efficient electronics will provide ongoing savings for your loved ones. Source: Jonas Leupe

2019 Cyber Week Shopping Guide: 7 Energy-Efficient Electronics Look To For

When you buy energy-efficient electronics through links on this post, we may earn an affiliate commission.  These commissions do not affect our product recommendations. Click here to learn more.

It’s the time of year we’ve all been anxiously awaiting. You know the one—where we cross off days on our calendar in anticipation, where we plan furiously for how we’ll strategically conquer it, where we seek out the best of the best deals and discounts so we can finally snag that to-die-for product we’ve been eying all year.

That’s right, it’s cyber week—and it’s almost here!

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, you’re running out of time to plan out and purchase the coolest and very best energy-efficient electronics for your loved ones this holiday season (or, you know, for you—you deserve an awesome gift, too).

Our advice?

If you’re truly looking to hunt down some deals, we suggest you take a (brief) pause to read this article.

Why? Because we’ve laid out something pretty sweet.

Sure, we’re guiding you toward some super sweet suggestions—but it’s more than that. We’re offering up our take on the best energy-efficient electronics to look for come black Friday, and throughout all of cyber week.

At WattDoesitUse, we believe in gifts that keep on giving. And to us, that means buying electronics and appliances that can do good while being really great gifts. Why not find great deals on super cool items for your family, friends, and colleagues and facilitate energy savings through your purchase choices?! Win-win!

Okay, enough turkey chit-chat—lets get down to business and with some of the best energy-efficient electronics .

The Best Energy-Efficient Electronics for Black Friday & Cyber Week 2019

Now—we want to be super clear here. We don’t have a crystal ball that tells us that these products will absolutely 100 percent go on sale this cyber shopping week (man, wouldn’t that be something, though).

But, as you know, cyber shopping week tends to hit every genre, which means that it’s more than likely something very similar to these products (and maybe even these products themselves) are bound to see some steep discounts.

Black Friday and Cyber Week mean deep discounts on the best energy-efficient electronics.
We’re chomping at the bit for deep discounts on the best energy-efficient electronics this year! Source: Allie Smith

Keep your eyes peeled for energy-efficient like these this Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Sale Shopping Week!

Eugene Trash Scanner

We love this cool, little product. The Eugene Trash Scanner turns your trash or your recycling container into a high-tech, cutting-edge dispenser. This system allows you to scan every single item before you toss it and it lets you know if that item (or parts of that item) can be recycled. It even adds your trashed item to a shopping list!

How It Helps Conserve Energy

By helping you better understand what to recycle and how to recycle something, you conserve energy by reducing or eliminating the need to make materials from scratch. Not only is this expensive, but it’s labor-intense and uses up natural resources, too.

ENERGY STAR Certified Laptops

We’re throwing you a general topic here, but that’s only because there are so many deals to be had. If you’re on the hunt for a top-notch energy-efficient laptop this cyber week, check out Best Buy’s collection of energy-star certified laptops here. They even have some black Friday pricing up early—be sure to shop fast! Amazon will also have some awesome deals if you, like us, are hooked on Prime shipping!

How It Helps Conserve Energy

Laptops that prioritize energy will run longer and better off of their battery source, meaning you’ll be able to get by plugging them in and drawing power from your home a lot less than with a desktop or a laptop that doesn’t prioritize energy.

Whirlpool Zera Food Recycler

Whirlpool’s WLabs Zera Food Recycler helps you make composting way easier (and less messy) right in your kitchen. This neat gadget turns your compostable food scraps into fertilizer right in front of you—it even includes a carbon filter to ensure that your kitchen doesn’t smell from all those composted scraps. You can even hook up this smart gadget to an app on your phone to run it remotely!

How It Helps Conserve Energy

Composting helps by reducing the amount of energy pumping needed to treat water and wastewater when it comes to sewage and trash. Further, by composting, you’re reducing a large amount of garbage that’s sent to landfills, which use machinery (which requires energy) to sort, process, and eliminate that waste.  

ENERGY STAR Certified Tablets

If a tablet is on your shopping to-do list, you’re going to love this selection of Black Friday pricing that’s already available on these ENERGY STAR certified tablets at Best Buy and Amazon.

How It Helps Conserve Energy

These work similarly to the laptops. They’ll better prioritize their own battery life to ensure the tablet lasts longer, meaning you’ll need to draw less power while using it than with other, less efficient tablets.

ENERGY STAR Certified Monitors

We’ll keep it brief since you can probably tell this is sort of a trend—check out Best Buy’s collection of Energy Star Certified Monitors this cyber shopping week!

How It Helps Conserve Energy

An energy-efficient monitor has to meet stringent requirements to verify that it actually conserves energy. That means it’ll have limited power modes when the monitor is on and off, as well as a set maximum of power consumption. Monitors that have the Energy Star rating are 15 percent more energy-efficient than standard options.

SolPad Mobile Panels

Keep an eye out for these neat gadgets this cyber shopping week! SolPad Mobile Panels are small, diverse, and totally affordable (and even more affordable if there’s a deal!). They don’t require installation and are easy to use, making converting solar energy for power easier than ever.

How It Helps Conserve Energy

Solar panels harvest the sun’s energy to do work, meaning, you can use these panels to charge electronics, power your devices, and more!

Lifx LED Lightbulb

This Wi-Fi-enabled Lifx LED Smart bulb lasts up to 40,000 hours before it needs replaced. The best part? It’s totally controlled by an app on your phone, so you’ll never forget to turn the light off again.

How It Helps Conserve Energy

With a built-in guarantee that you can turn the light off in your home from anywhere, you’ll never accidentally waste energy by leaving a bulb on at home!

Pro Tips: Is It Truly Energy Efficient?

Energy-efficient gadgets are all the rage right now, and honestly, we’re totally here for it. (In fact, we’re so here for it, we even wrote up a list of the 7 best energy-efficient gadgets out there for your home).

But because energy efficiency is such a huge trend, it can sometimes be hard to tell if a product you’re investing in will actually make a difference or if it’s just claiming to conserve energy. How can you be sure that you’re not investing your hard-earned money into the real deal?

Here are a few ways you can tell if your energy-efficient product is legit or if it’s simply pretending to be something it’s not.

  • A lot of appliances and gadgets out there that are big-name brands and claim to be energy efficient will feature an ENERGY STAR certification. This means they’re verified to actually do the job that they claim they’ll do.
  • Talk to the brand directly. If you’re unsure if a product is actually energy efficient (aka it’s missing a certification), don’t be afraid to reach out directly to the brand’s customer service. Ask them (politely, of course) if they can provide studies, proof, testimonials, or research to confirm that the product you’re planning to buy actually makes an energy efficiency difference.
  • Speak with your electric or energy company. More than likely, they’ll be able to not only let you know if a specific product or brand can walk the walk, but they’ll also be able to recommend other products or brands that can help you cut down your energy consumption.

Time to Get Shopping!

If you’re feelin’ totally ready to tackle this cyber shopping week with an energy-efficient mission in mind after reading this article, then we’ve done our job! Let us know in the comments where you’re finding the best energy-efficient electronics, tools, and appliances this year—you know your fellow readers will appreciate it. May Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Cyber Shopping Week all be good to you and gift you with the savings you love to love this time of year.

If you’re looking for more pro tips for conserving energy, other energy-efficient gift suggestions for the holidays, or simply are seeking out helpful information about energy and electricity, you’re in the right place. Keep up with our regularly updated blog on WattDoesitUse by subscribing and get ready to receive tips, tricks, and insight into the world of energy efficiency.

Investing in one of the best energy-efficient TVs can save you money. Source: Source: Jens Kreuter

The 3 Best Energy-Efficient TVs To Watch Your Holiday Favorites

When you buy through links on this post, we may earn an affiliate commission.  These commissions do not affect our product recommendations. Click here to learn more.

The holidays are approaching, and you know what that means. Oh, sure, lots of great food, time with family, and plenty of festivities. But also, let’s get real, whose Thanksgiving is complete without the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? Or the big football game (obviously not as big as your family’s pick-up game, but you know what we mean!)? We’re obviously not encouraging you to spend your holidays plopped down in front of the TV while the rest of the world celebrates. But outside of the Academy Awards and Super Bowl Sunday, it truly is the most wonderful TV time of the year. But the electricity bill associated with these past times can dull the mood if you don’t have one of the best energy-efficient TVs!

So, since you plan to schedule a little TV-family-programming this holiday season, we absolutely have to ask: is the TV you’re watching energy-efficient? If not, you could be missing out on some major savings (and who doesn’t’ want a little more cash to spend on cyber week holiday shopping?)!

Television Viewing in the U.S.

At WattDoesitUse we’re all about living your best life (especially during the holiday season), which is why we so firmly believe that the type of TV you’re watching totally matters. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, TVs are responsible for about 4 percent of residential electricity alone in the United States. You might think, just a measly 4 percent? Doesn’t sound like a whole lot! But if you think about it in the grand scheme of things that’s a pretty big proportion for one screen, particularly since it can be much less if you’re invested in one of the best energy-efficient TVs!

Consider this next part one of our holiday gifts to you—a complete guide to the best energy-efficient TVs so you can have the same great viewing experience while whittling down your electricity consumption (and costs) this holiday season.

Why Does Energy Efficiency Matter?

We promise we’ll jump into the list you’re looking for in a flash—but first, let’s answer this seemingly simple (but infinitely important) question.

Why does energy efficiency matter in my home this holiday (and beyond)?

We could honestly talk about this for hours, but we’ll be brief and just say this: by embracing energy efficiency, you use less power to complete the same tasks required for memorable holiday entertaining (and, of course, day-to-day tasks throughout the year). Less power consumption is important because:

  • The less power you use, the less energy your electric company needs to generate at power plants.
  • The less energy the electric company generates, the less fuel it needs to burn and the fewer greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere.
  • The lower the greenhouse gas emissions, the better your air quality will be.
  • In short, the less energy you use, you more money you save and the more you help to save the planet!

The Top Features to Consider In An Energy-Efficient TV   

The number of features offered by today’s TV’s can be overwhelming. And if you’re like many people, you might worry that prioritizing energy efficiency means you’ll have to de-prioritize performance. Fortunately, that couldn’t be further from the case!

Follow our pro tips below to ensure you select the best energy-efficient TVs for your needs, meaning that it provides superb performance when you want it the most without spiking the energy bill and unnecessarily drawing electricity when not in use.

Picture Quality

Whether you know it or not, TV brightness and picture quality are linearly related to the amount of power that your TV consumes. The new, brighter OLED technology is “technically” more efficient than LCD technology, but it often ends up actually being more energy-intensive because of its brightness. The brighter the TV settings, the more energy an OLED screen will consume—which is why, when an OLED screen is at max brightness, it consumes twice as much power as LED LCD TVs at their brightest. With all that in mind, we suggest opting for an LED LCD model, which can still provide superb performance with fewer electricity requirements.

A couple other specs to look for include: a refresh Rate of at least 120 times per second and ultra-high definition (UHD) screens (i.e., “4k” resolution).

Size

We all know the whole bigger is better argument when it comes to TVs (don’t act like your neighbor has never brought you over just show off their huge flat-screen TV). But when it comes to energy efficiency, that’s not always the case. There’s a definite link between power consumption and size. Our recommendation? Stick to 55” and under if you’re opting to conserve energy. More generally, we like the ENERGY STAR sizing guidance:

  • Viewing distance: Measure your viewing distance and divide by 2 to determine your TV’s ideal diagonal length.
  • Line of sight: Aim to position your TV parallel with your eyes and no higher or lower than 15 degrees. Your space and willingness to mount your TV may impact the TV size that fits at an optimal angle.
Specific Energy Efficiency Features

Of course, if energy efficiency is your game, you’ll want to double-check that the TVs you’re looking at have features like:

  • ENERGY STAR Certification: As with other home appliances and electronic devices, if your TV is certified by ENERGY STAR, you can be confident you will be saving on operational costs versus other models. In fact, ENERGY STAR TVs consume on average 25 percent less electricity than conventional models.
  • Automatic Brightness Control (ABC): As we mentioned earlier, brightness and electricity consumption are linearly related. But depending on the lighting in the room, you might prefer a different brightness. ABC setting enable a TV to adjust brightness based ambient lighting in order to provide the best viewing experience possible for you, keeping energy efficiency in mind.
  • Local Dimming Settings: These settings allow you to turn off or dim sections of the LED backlighting which can save energy, and provide better contrast (when we say we want a black background, we want a black background!).
  • ENERGY STAR Picture Settings: okay we have to admit we love these! Are you watching a movie? Or perhaps a football game?
Compatibility

This one is more about taking the extra step before you buy to make sure your new TV is going to be compatible with your other accessories, gadgets, and even your energy-efficient lifestyle, too. Our best advice? Think about a new TV in a general sense. Ask questions, like, what other equipment will I need? What kind of connectors are required (HDMI)? How many of them? Answering these questions first is always for the best—that way you don’t have to worry about them right when Frosty the Snowman is about to start playing.

The Best Energy-Efficient TVs

Now, without further ado, here are 3 of the best energy-efficient TVs to be merry about your utility bill this holiday season without giving up your family’s favorite shows (because we’d never ask you to opt-out of How the Grinch Stole Christmas or Elf or to compromise your football viewing experience )!

Best For The Essentials: Vizio E60-C3 60” 1080p Full HD LED TV
Average annual power consumption: 80.2 kWh | Average annual power cost: $10.43

If you’re a family who’s into the TV every so often and is just looking for a good, solid performer that won’t break the bank or suck up all the energy on the planet, we suggest the Vizio E60-C3. It has local dimming features that really pack a punch when it comes to picture quality even with the energy-efficient 1080p resolution (less than the more common high-definition 4K resolution in many models). This Vizio is affordable, easy to use, and will save you on your utility bill to boot!

Best For A Budget: TCL 49S405 49” 4k Ultra HD Roku Smart LED TV
Average annual power consumption: 115 kWh | Average annual power cost: $14.95

We’re all about TVs that minimize both the upfront price tag and the long-term power costs. The TCL is exactly that. This TV is a premium product at an affordable price tag—it provides Ultra HD picture quality, thousand of channels, and access to all apps you’d expect through Roku. No, it won’t provide you with a $4,000 TV experience, but as a basic option, it’s got great response time, wonderful color accuracy, and can help you save money on your utility bill like you wouldn’t believe.

Best For Action Seekers: Vizio PQ65-F1 65” 4k HDR TV
Average annual power consumption: 268 kWh | Average annual power cost: $34.87

If you love to love your TV and don’t plan to settle for anything less than the best but still want to be energy conscious, the Vizio PQ65 is the perfect choice for you! If you love fast-paced gaming and sports events, wide viewing angles, high refresh rates for smoother motion and clarity in those action and adventure movies, you’re going to love this TV. The best part? Because of its LED technology, it can do everything you want it to all while consuming half the electricity of the OLED models. You’ll get crisp motion, responsive viewing experiences, and more, all while minding your energy consumption. Sound like a win-win? We think so!

We hope this guide provided you with actionable advice to picking out your new energy-efficient TV.

BONUS HOLIDAY TIP: these bad boys make shockingly great gifts (if you’re looking for even more gifts suggestions, we may or may not have a list of those right here). Follow us by subscribing to our weekly update for downright solid information (if we do say so ourselves!) on how electricity works in our daily lives and pro tips to conserve energy and cut your utility bill.

Understand the drivers of energy use in your house to reduce power consumption and related costs. Source: Brian Babb

Electricity 101: Key Drivers of Energy Use At Home

Have you ever taken a long, sorrowful look at your energy bill, reached into your wallet for your credit card to pay it, and thought to yourself, where is all of this energy going? If you, like so many other energy consumers aren’t entirely sure what the heck is going on with your electricity bill, don’t understand your key drivers of energy use, or are simply overwhelmed by a high monthly electricity bill, then we’ve got some (hopefully) comforting news: you’re in the right place!

At WattDoesItUse, we truly get where you’re coming from. Knowledge is power, and our mission is to empower you with actionable information. So, what are the key drivers of energy and electricity use in your household? It’s not always easy to understand your electricity bill. But that’s precisely what we’ll seek to explain in this post.

More specifically, we will review some basics behind electricity consumption, followed by a room-by-room tour of your house to uncover the expected key drivers of energy use. Then, equipped with your enhanced energy literacy, we’ll take it a step further (you’re going to love this part) and brainstorm ways for you to conserve energy and whittle down your electric bill!

Now that we’ve established a solid foundation to get you going, let’s tackle the real reason we’re all here—discovering the energy hogs in your household! (No, we don’t mean your family members. We’ll handle the household appliances in this post; we’ll handle your family’s habits in another post!)

Who Uses Electricity?

To answer this succinctly—everybody! It’s pretty uncommon for commercial businesses or residences to not use electricity at all (that’s not to say some people don’t use it more efficiently than others, but we’ll get to that part later).

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First let’s make sure we’re on the same page about the basics.

Where does electricity come from?

We’ve got an entire blog post all about breaking down the logistics of electricity, but we’ll sum it up like this. Electricity is generated from sources like fossil fuels, wind, solar, and nuclear power. It is sent as a current through a transformer, which increases the voltage so it can travel a long distance. Then, that electrical charge runs through high-voltage transmission lines that run throughout the US. Eventually, the electrical current reaches a substation, which cranks down the voltage again so that it can travel through a smaller power line. The smaller power lines have built-in transformers that crank down the voltage further and help direct the electricity where it needs to go—to neighborhoods, businesses, apartment buildings, and more.

US transformer and electrical grid. Source: Sanna Linjos
Electricity travels through the extensive US grid to get from power generation plants to our homes. Source: Sanna Linjos

How do we measure electricity consumption?

If you haven’t read our electricity 101 guide about how we measure electricity (we definitely suggest it), you’ll need to know this: the amount of electricity a person uses over time is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). A kilowatt, which is a measure of power, is equal to 1,000 watts—it shows up as a kilowatt on your electricity bill because it’s far easier to measure large quantities of electricity in kilowatts.

If we’re using an 80-watt lightbulb in our home and run it for an hour, that means we’ve used a total of 80-watt hours—which means a total of .08 kilowatt-hours.

US Electricity Consumption Statistics

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are over 140 million customers of electricity in the United States. That huge number of customers is divided into three basic categories:

  1. Residential (122 million customers, about 37 percent of electricity sales)
  2. Commercial (17 million customers, about 35 percent of sales)
  3. Industrial (less than 1 million customers, about 28 percent of electricity sales)

How Much Electricity Does a Typical US Household Use?

Before we dive into energy saving opportunities, we think it’s important to first remind you that no one household is going to use the same amount of electricity as another. There are a ton of factors that drive energy use. For example, seasonality, geographic location, the actual foundation or structure of the household, and of course, the way the members of the household use their electricity can all play a role.

Despite all of these factors, we want to equip you with some basic statistics that are true of most households in the United States:

  • Electricity consumption will typically peak during the summer (think about how high you crank up your air conditioning when it’s blistering hot out).
  • On a more micro scale, electricity usage will also peak during the day, in the late afternoon, when people return home from work.
  • On average, the typical household in the United States uses 920kWh of electricity per month (11,040kwh per year). At the average national electrical rate, that translates to $1,468 annually.
  • The average breakdown of that consumption is as follows:
    • 29 percent – Heating
    • 17 percent – Cooling
    • 14 percent – Water heating
    • 13 percent – Appliances
    • 12 percent – Lighting
    • 4 percent – Electronic Devices
    • 11 percent – Other

Let’s Talk About Electricity: Where Is Your Electricity Really Going?

With those numbers providing perspective, let’s talk about the real reason you’re here: understanding the key drivers of energy use in your household. We already mentioned that heating/cooling and household appliances are the key drivers of energy use… and that utility bill!

Let’s take a closer look at these appliances:

Central AC

Though this number will likely vary for everyone, a central AC (that’s at least 2 tons) will use about 1450 kWh per month.

Quick Tip for Conserving Electricity With Your AC Unit: don’t heat and cool the rooms you aren’t using, change your thermostat setting each season, and use “vacation” settings when you’re not going to be home for a while.

Water Heater Pump

For a 4-person household, you can anticipate that a water heater will use about 310 kWh per month.

Quick Tip for Conserving Electricity With Your Water Heater: consider scaling back the time you spend in a hot shower, don’t run water when you’re not using it, and consider replacing appliances in your home that can monitor your hot water usage.

Washing Machine & Dryer

A washing machine will use about 9 kWh per month while a dryer will use about 75 kWh per month.

Quick Tip for Conserving Electricity With Your Washer and Dryer: always wait for a full load before washing, clean your lint trap between dryer loads, and air dry your clothes outside during warmer months (if you can!)

Refrigerator

A refrigerator will use about 105 kWh per month.

Quick Tip for Conserving Electricity With Your Refrigerator: keep the refrigerator door closed as much as possible!

Range & Stovetop

This will, of course, vary on the type of range or stovetop you use, but expect an oven range to use about 58kWh per month.

Quick Tip for Conserving Electricity With Your Range and Stovetop: Keep the oven door shut as much as possible, cover your pots and pans to help trap heat, and keep your range and stovetop clean. Better yet, invest in a more energy efficient range or stovetop!

Dishwasher

Your dishwasher is probably using close to 30 kWh per month.

Quick Tip for Conserving electricity With Your Dishwasher: don’t do the dishes unless you have a full load and scrape excess food off your plate instead of rinsing!

Microwave

Your microwave likely uses about 15 kWh per month.

Quick Tip for Conserving Electricity With Your Microwave: Unplug it when it’s not in use but use it when you can (it’s a faster way to heat food up, which also requires less power!)

Television

A TV Will use about 27kWh per month.

Quick Tip for Conserving Electricity With Your TV: unplug your TV when it’s not in use, try using power strips that can detect when your devices are in standby mode, and try streaming through more efficient devices, like a tablet.

Lightbulbs

Depending on your wattage, you can expect to use about 50 kWh per month lighting a 4-5 room household.

Quick Tip for Conserving Electricity With Lighting: upgrade your lightbulbs to a more energy-efficient brand and remember to turn the lights off when you leave a room.

Additional Energy Conservation Strategies

Of course, the easy answer is to use your appliances less frequently, and when you do use them, be smart about conserving energy. But, there are plenty more tips out there that can help you conserve energy in every single room in your household. We’ve compiled helpful guidance right here:

  • Replace or cover drafty windows
  • Find and seal any leaks in your home (check spaces under doors, windows, and more!)
  • Make sure you’re scheduling regular service appointments for your AC and heating units
  • Unplug your appliances when they’re not in use or consider using a power strip that can cut all power to these appliances when they’re turned off.
  • Keep air moving throughout your house with efficient ceiling fans so you don’t have to use AC as much
  • Lower your water heating costs by scaling back your hot showers

Interested in learning more about electricity? Looking for ways to conserve energy, cut back on expenses, or be more energy conscious in general? Well, you’re in the right place. Our WattDoesitUse blog is all about sharing unique ways to conserve electricity, become more energy-efficient, and help you enhance your electricity literacy, too! Got a tip for our readers on how to conserve energy in their households? We want to hear it. Drop your advice in the comments below! Have questions or suggestions for new blog topics? Leave us comments about that, too!

Select the most energy-efficient range to save energy in the kitchen. Source: Gaelle Marcel

6 Of The Best Energy-Efficient Ranges, Stoves & Cooktops for Holiday Entertaining

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We all want to be that house when the sleigh bells start jingling and everyone’s lighting the menorah or singing about Christmas trees. You know the house we’re talking about—it has the best parties, the best holiday food, and killer holiday décor. Sure, all of those things are important components of holiday cheer (and they all play into that best holiday home title, too). But have you ever stopped to think about the energy (and financial) costs of being that home?

Historically, being an entertainment hub and holiday décor superstar home necessitated an exorbitant utility bill. Luckily, that is no longer the case! However, being the star of the neighborhood’s holiday festivities and avoiding a concurrent energy spike requires mindfulness. If you’re looking for help to become a more energy-efficient home this holiday season, you’re in the right place. We’ve got the tips and tricks you need to make it happen.

There are plenty of ways to achieve power consumption (and cost) savings in your home. We will cover those opportunities in posts to come, so stay tuned! But ’tis the season for holiday baking and entertaining, so where better to start than at the heart of the home: the kitchen. More specifically, the best energy-efficient ranges, stoves, and cooktops for you.

Why Energy Efficiency Matters (Even Beyond the Holidays)

Monitoring energy, mindfully conserving energy, and being energy-efficient in the kitchen matters because, well, energy consumption matters!

We don’t mean that as a cop-out answer—you probably already know that energy efficiency is a big deal. If you’re new to this, let us explain briefly. By embracing energy efficiency, you will use less power to complete the same tasks required for top-notch holiday entertaining, and everyday tasks, too! Being conscious of your power consumption helps on multiple levels. The less power you use, the less energy your electric company needs to generate at power plants. That, in turn, reduces greenhouse gas emissions. And that improves the quality of the air that you and your family breath. By monitoring your kitchen’s power consumption, you’re also cutting costs. Who doesn’t love extra money for family gifts?

Why start in the kitchen?

Monitoring energy use in the kitchen is an effective place to start monitoring energy efficiency. Stop and consider for a moment the sheer amount of time you spend in your well-lit kitchen preparing meals, baking, and washing dishes. Sure, you’re expending your own personal energy making delicious meals for yourself and your loved ones. But your kitchen appliances are expending energy, too. And the use of these energy-intensive appliances add up.

Enjoy family time in the kitchen even more knowing you aren't wasting energy.
Baking is a time-honored holiday tradition. Enjoy family time even more knowing you aren’t wasting energy. Source: Brandless

Stoves, Ranges, and Cooktops—Oh My!

Before we dive into the reason you’re here—to identify the best energy-efficient ranges for your holiday entertaining—we need to tackle a couple important questions.

What’s the difference? Stoves, Ranges, and Cooktops Explained

A common question among homeowners is: what’s the difference between a range, stove, and cooktop? Let’s make sure we’re on the same page.

People often use the words “range” and “stove” interchangeably. They are one-piece units that include a cooktop and an oven. Alternatively, cooktops are separate from ovens and installed directly into a countertop. Kitchens with cooktops will have separate ovens, often built into the wall.

Which type of stove is the most energy efficient?

Well, as with many things in life, the short answer to this question is: it depends.

When it comes to stoves and cooktops, we’re typically dealing with three types of technology: induction, electric, and gas.

Induction stovetops and cooktops are widely considered to be the most energy-efficient cooking appliance out there. An induction stove isn’t all that complicated—and the science behind it is actually pretty cool. An induction cooktop harnesses the power of magnetic energy. It’ll heat things up in a flash. Induction heating also makes it very easy to make precise, micro-temperature adjustments.

In other words, induction cooktops will heat your pots, pans, and what-have-you’s through direct contact. That way, you’re effectively keeping heat where it belongs without losing it to the air around your cooktop. In fact, according to Green Building Advisor, induction cooktops feature about an 84 percent efficiency compared to electric cooktops, which land in the mid-70s, and gas burners, which land in last place at 50-55 percent efficiency.

So, technically, an induction cooktop is the most energy efficient, then electric, and then gas. That being said, we always have to mention the caveat that sometimes, it is less what you use and more how you use it. The best energy-efficient range is the one used the most mindfully. Someone who purchases an induction stove will not necessarily save more energy than a person using an electric stove if they’re not being energy conscious.

Energy saving strategies in the kitchen

Check out a few of our pro tips to conserve energy—and save money—when using your stove and range, no matter what technology you’re using!

  • Keep your metal burners and pans clean. Shiny, clean surfaces reflect heat where it’s supposed to go (toward the pot or the pan). A messy crust will simply absorb the heat, making the stove work longer to heat the pan. Clean pots, pans, and burners, and you won’t be diverting all the heat toward caked-on messes.
  • Turn off your electric burners just before you’re finished cooking. No, we don’t mean leave your raw chicken on a powered-off burner. If you have 2-3 minutes of cooking time left, feel free to shut the burner off. Your food will keep cooking, you’ll avoid over-cooking and drying out your food, and you’ll save a little bit of energy!
  • Make sure you’re matching your pots and burners. Ensuring you are using the correct burner for the current pan in use will result in sending that valuable heat into the kitchen (without surface area to absorb it). As an example, if you’re cooking a small saucepan, choose one of the smaller burners/coils available.
  • For dishes that get better over time, use a slow cooker. Slow cookers are extremely efficient. They can provide hours of heat to create a luscious meal with minimal energy. We love slow cookers so much, we’ll be writing a post just on them soon, so keep your eyes out for it.
  • How long have you had your current pans and pots? If they are irreparably caked, scalded, and scratched, consider replacing them. They’re not doing you any favors.
  • Did we mention keep everything clean? We’ll say it one more time: keep everything clean. It’s going to help your kitchen appliances—ranges, stoves, and cooktops included—function much more efficiently. Your food will turn out better too!
Select the best energy-efficient range for your kitchen's set up to save energy and money
Select the best energy-efficient range for your kitchen’s set up to save energy and money. Source: Dane Deaner

The Best Energy-Efficient Ranges, Stoves, and Cooktops

Now you have all the background. So without further delay, friends, we present to you the much-sought-after selection of the best energy-efficient ranges, stoves and cooktops!

As a quick note, we’re providing you with more than just induction options. We’re including ranges, stoves, and cooktops that are lauded for their energy efficiency—which means they’ll give you that extra energy consciousness within their own unique categories, this holiday season and beyond.

  • Most Efficient Cooktop: Diva DDP Induction Cooktop Series
    • As we discussed in this post, induction is technically the most energy efficient technology for cooktop meal preparation. We are big fans of the “runner up,” as well: Duxtop 8100MC 1800W. But the Diva DDP series ultimately gets our vote, because it provides options to handle a larger volume of cooking expected in a home’s kitchen.
  • Best Compact Cooktop: The Fagor Countertop Induction Cooktop
    • This induction is great for students, or someone in search of an affordable, efficient, portable burner.
  • Best Electric Cooktop: Summit SINC424220 Induction Cooktop
    • This cooktop is a bit smaller. However, it performs well, and we love that it provides many of the same features as larger counterparts.
  • Best Gas Range: Samsung 30” Convection Gas Range
    • We love that this range’s gas cooktop features 5 specialized burners so you can match flame size to the pan in use. The fact that its oven uses efficient convection technology is an added plus!
  • Best Electric Range: Whirlpool 6.4 cu Ft. Electric Range
    • Whirlpool is a brand that has become synonymous with reliability over the years. This range provides the efficiency of electric cooking technology with the size required to handle stress-free entertaining.
  • Best High-End Electric Range: The GE Double Oven Smart Electric Range
    • This range boasts impressive versatility and an ability to handle multiple dishes at once without spiking your utility bill. Perfect for big holiday gatherings!

As we mentioned before, you don’t need the holiday season to get your kitchen into energy-efficiency mode. But it doesn’t hurt to have a catalyst to kick you into gear. The way to people’s hearts is through their stomachs, so start by identifying the best energy-efficient range, stove, or cooktop for your kitchen and then work from there.

We’ll be here to help you every step along the way. Want to learn more about electricity and how to conserve energy? Follow The WattDoesItUse Blog to stay in-the-know! 

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!

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