Let’s talk energy usage
Even with all of the recent interest in solar and wind power, over 80 percent of energy in most American homes still comes from fossil fuels. Energy is something that people often don’t think about, not when they climb in their cars to get from point A to point B, not when they flick light switches and use appliances without a second thought. There are many surprising facts about energy that most people don’t know, such as the following:
- U.S. citizens account for about 5 percent of the world’s population, but use over 25 percent of the world’s energy. This amount of energy includes gas consumption, coal consumption, use of metals, forested woods and other natural resources. Furthermore, our love for automobiles accounts for a large part of our energy consumption, as less than 10 percent of Americans use public transportation, with the vast majority of citizens driving at least 14,000 miles every year.
- Cooling homes in the summer and heating them in the winter accounts for over 55 percent of the average American utility bill. All that hard work to heat our homes during the cold months is pretty futile if our homes have inefficient window—almost half of the heat is lost through drafts. If your home has single-paned windows and are wondering why your utility bills are sky-high, wonder no more as they are the gate through which almost 25 percent of the heat escapes.
- Lighting accounts for about 10 percent of most home utility bills (unless you’re growing medical marijuana, in which case the bill goes way higher). Remember how your mom always used to nag you to turn off the lights? Well, she was on to something as following her advice can make a significant difference in your utility bills. Replacing your conventional lights with CFLs will also save you money as these are much more efficient and can last much longer than the conventional ones. Also, setting lamps and outdoor lights on timers can be of great help if you often forget to turn them off.
- Most of the energy used by home electronics is when they are turned off and plugged in. TVs, blenders, coffee grinder, PlayStation, phone charger and hair dryer are costing you money if they remain plugged in all of the time. One way to solve this problem is to use a power strip to plug the items into and, when not in use, simply turn off the power strip. In time, it will become a habit.
- Energy Star products really help lower your bills. Although the initial cost is somewhat higher than for regular ones, the energy savings will make up for that, the National Resource Defense Council estimates that replacing old models of dishwashers and kitchen appliances will save you between $25 and $120 a year, per appliance.
- Transportation accounts for more than 20 percent of energy consumed worldwide. Transportation of goods, personal transportation require an incredible amount of gas, but cutting down on fossil fuels used in transportation can significantly impact our world. Even though one person may not feel that they can make a difference, if millions give it a try to change their behavior, a real change can happen, one person at a time.