This post is contributed by Joe Truini, guest blogger at The Home Depot.

You’ve sealed drafts, checked your home’s insulation, inspected and repaired your HVAC equipment, and replaced your lighting with  energy-efficient bulbs. Now what’s left to do? Just one thing: reduce your household electricity usage.

Home appliances and electronics have come a long way in terms of energy efficiency, but it’s still important to make sure they’re not draining energy from your home. Here are a few quick ways to reduce their energy usage.

  1. Inspect appliances to estimate their energy efficiency. Energy.gov has a tool to help you get started.
  2. For household electronics, consider these tips to reduce costs and usage:
    a. Unplug electronics (coffee makers, toasters, etc.) when they aren’t in use since they can pull energy even when turned off.
    b. Utilize electronics only when needed. Install timers or smart plugs to automatically turn off devices you don’t need at certain times of day.
    c. Consider replacing old electronics with more energy-efficient models.

“Individually, most household electronics, such as TVs, stereos, computers, and other gadgets don’t add up to much energy usage, mainly because they are not in use all the time,” says Jennifer Tuohy, a green and smart home tech expert. “But in today’s technologically advanced world, we have more and more electronic gadgets in our home. Collectively, they can add up to a significant part of your electric bill.”

Tuohy decided to test her usage. “I monitored the use of my iMac® and coffee maker with an electricity monitoring plug and discovered that my iMac costs $60 a year to run and my coffee maker just $11. If you look around your home, you’ve probably got between 10 and 20 household electronics plugged in at any time, so you can see how quickly that can add up.”

She suggests 3 ways to improve and lessen the energy consumption of your household items.

 

3 easy ways to save money (and energy) at home

  1. Plug multiple electronic devices, like your home entertainment center, into a surge strip with an on/off button. That way, you can easily shut down the whole system with a press of a button and avoid sucking “vampire power” out of the grid.
  2. Invest in “smart” plugs or outlets. These can be controlled wirelessly by an app on your smartphone, allowing you to turn your devices on and off remotely. Or you can put them on schedules so they’re only on when you need them.
  3. Pick up an electricity monitoring plug and plug your devices in for a few days to see how much energy they’re using. That way, you can identify power hogs and decide whether you need to replace them with more energy-efficient models.
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Every bit helps

Performing a home energy audit can be a relatively pain-free process, as long as your home has been kept up to date throughout the years. In addition to doing your own DIY audit, you can also check with your local utility provider. Many offer free home energy audits that may include specialized tests (like blower-door tests and infrared spectroscopy) to pinpoint any air leaks around your home’s perimeter.

But no matter what changes you decide to make, taking any steps to reduce your home’s energy usage can benefit you (and your wallet) greatly in the long run.

For more DIY audit tips, check out the rest of our home ownership series, where we go over leaks and drafts, insulation, heating, and lighting.

 

Joe Truini writes extensively about DIY home remodeling and repair, including performing energy audits to evaluate efficiency. He has worked as a remodeling contractor, cabinetmaker, and union carpenter. Joe is the author of 8 home improvement books, including Building Sheds and Stanley Homeowner’s Guide to Tiling, both published in 2016. He also writes for The Home Depot on home improvement topics like installing storm windows.

DIY hacks | Home and garden