Managing the electricity hogs in your house can save you money

Conserving electricity may mean being able to keep homes cooler and energy costs down as the summer heat beats down on Texas.

The Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) issued a conservation alert for Monday, asking people to turn their thermostats up and hold off running major appliances in the afternoon.

ERCOT says low wind and record high demand for electricity are the reasons for Texans being asked to conserve energy today from 2 to 8 p.m.

What uses the most energy in your home? Heres what we know:

1. Air conditioning and heating

The heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is the main energy user in homes, attributing for about 46% of average consumption.

An average central HVAC unit uses about 3,500 watts while it runs two to three times an hour, according to Direct Energy.[1] Over a 24-hour period, an HVAC could use around 28-63 kWh, translating to about 850-1,950 kWh for the month.

While running the air conditioner is critical during the summer months, here are a few tips from Direct Energy on how to reduce the HVAC workload:

  • Ceiling fans- Using fans counterclockwise in the summer and clockwise in the winter can help.

  • Thermostat- Turn up the unit to 78 degrees in summer and down to 65 degrees in winter.

  • Tune up- Getting your air conditioner and furnace tuned up annually is recommended.

  • Curtains- Close curtains during sunny days to keep the heat out, but open them during winter.

  • Air filters- Replacing these can help the unit better.

  • Dont block- Blocking inside vents or outside units could disrupt the state of things.

  • Cleaning- Dusting and vacuuming will prevent clogs.

  • Dress- Dress lightly in the house during summer and warmly during winter.

2. Water heating

Water heaters are used for many things around the house such as cooking, bathing, cleaning and heating.

The appliance accounts for about 14% of a homes energy usage. An average heater will run for around three hours a day and use 4,500 watts, making up 405 kWh per month.

A few tips to shave a few bucks of your bill:

  • Temperature- Set the water heater temp to 120 degrees or lower.

  • Wrap- Wrap an older water heat in an insulation jacket.

  • Insulate- Insulate the hot water pipes to lock in the heat.

  • Turn down- When going on vacation or if you will be away from home for a period of time, turn down the water heater.

  • Tools- Installing a water-conserving shower head and faucet aerator can help.

  • Upgrade- There are solar water heaters on the market.

3. Appliances

Major appliances such as refrigerators, washers and dryers, ovens and dishwashers, use around 13% of energy, according to Direct Energy.

Refrigerators use around 225 watts, which is about 162 kWh a month. This appliance cant be turned on and off like an air conditioning unit, so heres a few tips to save on energy:

  • Space- Dont overload the refrigerator, keep most-used items accessible and arrange for efficiency.

  • Set temp- Each refrigerator has a manufactures recommended temperature.

  • Clean- Cleaning behind and underneath the fridge can maintain airflow.

  • Upgrade- Replace older units with newer, more energy efficiency models.

Washers and drys collectively account for around 5% of a homes energy use or about 91 kWh per month. A few tips when doing laundry:

  • Washer- Wash full loads, use cold water and dont overfill the machine.

  • Dryer- Use drying racks when possible and clean lint from filter after each load.

An electric oven and stove can result in 75 kWh and 45 kWh a month, respectively. Both culinary tools can turn the heat up in the kitchen, especially the oven. Heres how to reduce the electricity load:

  • Other appliances- Using small appliances like a toaster oven, microwave or slow cooker can save on energy.

  • Usage- Use the oven and stove during the the cooler hours of the day. Dont preheat unless its necessary. Turn off the stove burners a few minutes before being done and let the residual heat complete the cook.

The average dishwasher uses about 330 watts, which can add up to almost 10 kWh per month depending on usage. What to know about dishwasher usage:

  • Usage- Wash full loads, turn off heated dry, wash during cooler hours and pre-rinse heavily dirty dishes.

4. Lighting

Lighting your home makes up about 9% of energy consumption.

Light bulbs vary in types and wattages, but its important to remember the sheer number of bulbs used in the household from lamps, fans and lights. Heres how to reduce electricity usage:

  • Save- Turn off lights when leaving a room, also use energy-efficient bulbs.

  • Natural light- Opening the blinds can help bring in heat and light.

  • Other lights- Installing motion detector lights outdoors will only turn on when theres movement.

5. Home media electronics

Home electronics from televisions to video game consoles account for up to 4% of a homes energy use.

An average of five hours of TV watching and six hours of video game playing, can use up to 55 kWh per month. Heres how to manage the energy consumption of these small electronics:

  • Power- Deactivate any standby modes and quick-start setting. Turn down screen brightness and turn electronics off when not in use.

  • Energy- Shop for Energy Star certified products that are made to help save electricity.

  • Choice- Choosing activities that dont require electricity like reading or board games can help save.


  1. ^ according to Direct Energy. (


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