Renters often have the luxury of not thinking about utilities, but when you buy your first home, you are suddenly faced with monthly utility bills. As you peruse your electric bill, you may wonder how your energy usage compares to that of other single-family dwellings. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has compiled information on energy usage across the country, so you can gauge your home’s efficiency and find ways to save money.
Average Electrical Usage for Single-family Homes
The EPA compiled data for 79.7 million single-family homes in 2005 and found that the average energy use is 12,773 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year. One kWh is equal to using 1,000 watts of energy for one hour. To calculate kWh, multiply wattage by the number of hours and divide by 1,000. For example, a 100-watt incandescent light bulb that is left on for an entire month (730 hours) uses 73 kWh of electricity.
Highest Energy Usage
According to Energy Star, the top four consumers of energy in your home are heating, cooling, water heating and appliances. A whopping 29 percent of the electricity used in your home is used to heat it. Another 17 percent of your energy is used to run fans and air conditioners, 14 percent is used to power your water heater and 13 percent is used to operate appliances. Lighting, electronics and other electrical items consume the remaining 27 percent.
Ways to Save Energy
Since heating and cooling account for the largest share of your home’s energy consumption, the biggest energy savings can be achieved by ensuring your home is well insulated. In addition to installing adequate insulation in your attic, make sure your windows and doors don’t allow drafts of outside air into your home. You can also maximize the energy efficiency of your furnace and air conditioner by having them maintained annually and by replacing filters regularly.
Your home’s energy use depends on a number of factors. The size of your home determines much of your energy usage. Heating and cooling a large home requires more energy than doing the same for a small home. Likewise, the area of the country you live in greatly affects your heating and cooling costs. If you live in a state with harsh winters, the energy used by your furnace represents as much as two-thirds of your annual electricity costs.
- United States Environmental Protection Agency: Green Power Equivalency Calculator Methodologies
- Saving Electricity: How Much Electricity Costs, and How They Charge You
- Energy Star: Products -- Save Energy at Home
- County of Ventura: Build It Smart! -- Right Size House
- National Public Radio: The Energy Costs of Cooling and Heating a Home
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