In an uncertain economy, if there’s one thing that nobody wants to do at home it’s waste money. We all do our best to scrimp and save and shop responsibly, yet it seems that we as a species (and Americans in particular) are frighteningly proficient when it comes to waste. Waste is a thief and energy waste is the biggest thief of all, let many of us seem to have very few reservations when it comes to letting this thief into our home at great expense both to our homes and the environment. All energy creation has some form of environmental impact whether it’s the depletion of resources required by fossil fuels like coal and oil, or the greenhouse gasses and pollution caused by energy creation.
Though there are numerous products that can help us to reduce our household energy waste (which will be mentioned here), there’s really no substitute for a vigilant, watchful eye and a smattering of common sense. That said, many are unaware of just how wasteful some activities are in comparison to others.
The size of the problem
Just how much energy produced in the US would you estimate is wasted? Ten percent? Twenty? Thirty? The sad truth is that a conservative estimate of 69% of the energy produced in this country is wasted. More sober estimates place the actual number at closer to 87%. That’s at least two-thirds of all energy produced in the US wasted. If this statistic is shocking to you, don’t despair you can avoid being part of the problem by knowing which activities waste the most energy and the relatively simple steps you can take to mitigate their waste.
Impulse spending at the supermarket
Okay, so this isn’t an activity that we do at home, but its impact is taken out on the household. Impulse purchases at the supermarket can cause the refrigerator to become a financial black hole. Many of us are easily seduced by discounted produce and perishables like meat and dairy at the supermarket. These items are usually on the verge of going bad and reduced for a quick sale. While everyone loves a bargain, this can lead to poor refrigerator management. Either we push these items to the back of the fridge and forget about them, or eat them straight away at the expense of the foods that were waiting to be eaten in the fridge. Inevitably items go bad in the refrigerator and need to be thrown away. This is why 50% of all American-grown produce ends up thrown away.
In a time when 795 million people going hungry all over the world, families need to do everything they can to combat food waste. Better refrigerator management and taking inventory of everything in the fridge can make a huge difference as can pre-planning your meals throughout the week. By planning your weekly meals and buying only what you need from the supermarket you can save money and reduce your contribution to the national food waste epidemic.
Taking a hot deep bath
We all like to unwind with a hot deep soak at the end of a tiring or stressful day, but this luxury should be treated as such because a deep bath daily can lead to colossal water and heat waste. Fortunately, replacing your water tank with a tankless water heating system can help you to make significant savings. Check out these tankless water heater reviews to see which one is best for your household. On average these heaters can bring around 22% savings on operational costs.
Taking a long shower
Many people choose a shower over a bath believing them to be more energy efficient but the truth is that an 8-minute shower can use just as much water as a bath. The average American household loses 40 gallons of energy-rich water down the plughole per day. Expert recommends trimming your time in the shower down to four minutes, though if you prefer a more leisurely shower you can still do so while making savings. Replacing your shower head with an efficient low-flow showerhead can save you roughly a gallon of water per minute, reducing your water use by up to 60%.
Eating meat and dairy products
Many people are cutting down or altogether eliminating meat and dairy products from their diets for reasons other than a passion for animal rights. Animal agriculture accounts for 80-90% of the country’s water consumption while growing crops to feed livestock uses 56% of the country’s water consumption. In fact, it takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef, and 1 calorie from beef takes 27x more energy to produce than 1 calorie from soybeans. While you may not pay for it in your household energy bills, eating meat and dairy is one of the most resource and energy inefficient things a household can do. Incorporating more whole and plant-based foods into your diet is not only more energy efficient but helps to reduce food waste due to the typically longer shelf life of plants.
Lighting your home with incandescent bulbs
Those who are still lighting their homes with incandescent bulbs seriously need to get with the times. These bulbs create light by burning a filament but only 10% of the energy created comes in the form of light. A staggering 90% is wasted on heat. Replacing these bulbs with LEDs or Compact Fluorescent lamps is one of the easiest ways to save money, saving around $90 per bulb per year.
Leaving ‘energy vampires’ plugged in
A lot of us are unaware of which are the most wasteful appliances in the home. Worse still, many are oblivious to how much energy they waste even when left on standby. Energy vampires like TVs, DVD players, cell phone chargers, and game consoles constantly leech power from their sockets which create a sizeable impact on your energy use when added up over the year. Unplugging them or switching them off at the wall will save money but you can also install a smart plug to monitor the energy consumption of every device and get an accurate idea of just how much they’re costing you.