Top 10 Power Hogs in the Winter

In this article, we will look at 10 common appliances that are energy hogs in the winter. Energy-conserving ideas and tips are given, but be willing to look at these as a place to start. Do diligent research into the ever-expanding contributions of alternative energy to find ways to increase energy conservation. 

Electric Heating Appliances – If you are heating with electricity this winter season, it is likely the highest portion of your electricity bill. According to the US Department of Energy, approximately 56% of electric power used is for heating and cooling. Electric furnaces and heat pumps are the worst offenders. Electric furnaces work by heating elements and transferring that heat to the living space by use of fans. You can save on the heating portion of your electricity bill by lowering your thermostat at night, and while you are away. Keep extra blankets on the beId for chilly nights. Do remember to pull the plug when the season is over. One alternative to this appliance is either a coal or wood stove. They do have their pluses and minuses, but they are hard to beat for reducing energy consumption. Alternatively, there are a number of passive solar collection techniques worthy of investigating such as thermosiphon solar collectors; however, they may not provide for 100% of your heating needs. 

Water Heaters – Water heaters that use electricity provide that comfort by heating elements inside the water tank. The elements draw energy regularly to keep the water at a set temperature. They contribute about the same amount on your electric bill as clothes dryers. Nothing feels better than a hot bath or shower on a cold morning or night, and that can lead to hotter and longer showers and baths. Likewise, cooler house temperatures can cause the water heater to work harder. To conserve energy this winter season, you can turn the water heater’s thermostat down to keep the water at a lower temperature comfortable enough for your use. Thermal water heater wraps are designed specifically for covering water heaters and provide an additional layer of insulation. There are low-flow faucets and showerheads that are easy to install, so replacing your old ones is easy. In many regions, you may be able to use a solar water heater that mounts on your roof, but these are relatively expensive. There are several passive solar water heater designs available, too. 

Electric Clothes Dryers – You likely have more laundry in the winter because of the need for coats, pants, and heavier shirts rather than the shorts and tank tops of summer. Of course, that heavy laundry needs to be dried, and the dryer is going to have to work longer to get the job done. Dryers are a heavy burden on your electric bill. You may want to consider a gas or propane dryer, or air-drying as an alternative, but even those who have an outdoor clothes dryer rack or line may find that the days are too short and cold for drying in the worst of the cold season. You can still dry clothes without a dryer by using drying racks indoors. Move the racks outside during sunny periods, and then back indoors later. For added drying space, some garments that are not too heavy can go onto a strong hanger and hung on a shower curtain rod to dry. 

Refrigerators and Freezers- It may seem like these would consume less energy in the winter, but they are surrounded by warmer air in the winter than is likely in most air-conditioned homes in the summer. This leaves your refrigerator working even harder. Maintain a higher efficiency with your refrigerator by cleaning the coils on the back and under it. If your refrigerator or freezer is an older model, you will benefit by replacing it with a new one that is energy efficient. 

Electric Stoves/Ovens – Electric stoves and ovens are a convenience that would be hard to do without. Of course, you could use natural gas, if natural gas is available, or a propane model to reduce your energy use. When the cold season comes along, using the stove provides the advantage of a little extra heat for at least a few hours. There are alternative methods of cooking during the hot months to avoid heating the house, and one of those is useful during the cold season. Slow cookers are notorious for minimizing energy usage and still getting a great meal on the table. Wood and coal cook stoves are ideal because they use no electric power for cooking. Many who have a standard size wood stove have discovered they can do some limited cooking on it if the surface gets hot enough, but there is not much space for pots and pans. These are great tips when preparing holiday meals. 

Ceiling Fans – While some people use ceiling fans to cool in the summer, reversible ceiling fans are also useful in the winter. In the summer, they are useful for providing moving air. After the dog days of summer set in, they are not enough to keep us cool. Heat rises, so in the winter months much of the heat in the room is above the living space. When you are sitting on the couch, for example, much of the heat in the room is above your head. With a reversible ceiling fan, reversing the spin pushes the warmer air back down into the occupied living space. Installing drop ceilings to keep that warmer air closer to the living space is a solution. 

Televisions –Televisions would be likely to use more power in the winter. People engage in outside activities in the spring, fall, and summer. During the winter months, we turn to inside activities because of the harsh weather outside, and television is one of those common activities. Not to mention, many Texans stay at home to watch Sunday or Monday Night Football and hold viewing parties. It is easy to turn on the television and sit down, but finding other activities will keep you away from it. As with all appliances, turn it off when no one is watching and unplug it to reduce energy use. 

Computers and Monitors – These consume about 400 watts of power per hour of use. It is definitely easier to leave the computer on because start-up time can be slow, especially when you have an older computer. We use our computers more in the winter for the same reason we use the television more in the winter. Do try to keep it off and unplug it when not in use.

Lights and Lamps –Shorter winter days mean turning the lights on earlier in the evening. Unless you want to sit in the dark or use kerosene lamps, you cannot avoid turning them on after a certain point. What you can do is change your incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFL’s. A standard incandescent bulb uses more energy than a CFL bulb. A 60-watt incandescent bulb uses 60 watts of power, but a CFL bulb can provide the equivalent of 60 watts of light using only 13 watts of power. Times that by all the bulbs in your home, and it makes a difference. Do remember to turn lights off when you leave the room. When people think of lights in the winter, they usually think of Christmas lights. Christmas lights can be an added cost to your electricity bill. Make sure to use LED holiday light bulbs. These bulbs use 0.04 watts and is up to 90% efficient compared to those big incandescent bulbs.

Dusk to Dawn Lights – These lights automatically turn on at dusk and off at dawn. How convenient it is to have a light on for you when arriving home late at night. It also can deter any would-be curious activity close to the home. Just as with inside lights and lamps, the shorter periods of daylight in winter means these lights are on more in the winter. They use larger bulbs and more energy. You can conserve energy by installing a motion sensor that will only turn the light on when it detects movement and will shut itself off after a set amount of time. Also, replace those bulbs with outdoor CFL’s.

Post time: 12-15-2016