Stream Energy: Top three energy-using devices in your home or apartment

It’s the weekend, so it’s time to do the usual: laundry, cooking, and bingeing your favorite TV shows. You can’t wait to spend time relaxing in your home, and you look forward to a productive, satisfying few days where you’re not at work.

Then you get your electric bill, and guess what? It’s way too high.

The thing is, the normal appliances we use in everyday life can suck up a lot of energy. Want to know how much? Here’s a list of the devices that take up the most energy in your home.

Your hot water heater

Your water heater, which, naturally, heats the water in your home or apartment, is one of the biggest users of energy in your home. Why? Because it must be on all the time, even when you’re not in the shower or doing anything else that demands hot water. Hot water heaters are the second highest energy expense in homes and can suck up as high as 18% of monthly energy bills.

Generally speaking, there are five types of water heaters, and they all vary with their energy efficiency. The most common is the tank water heater, which looks like a large cylinder. Most homes house their standard water heater in the garage or basement. These water heaters can be gas or electric, and they can cost thousands of dollars to replace or repair.

If you’re looking to buy a water heater for your home, the gas versions are typically less expensive to use than the electric ones. But both versions are pretty expensive to install, costing between $700 and $2000. The good news is a standard water heater has a fairly long lifespan, lasting between eight and 15 years.

Other more efficient heaters include high-efficiency storage tank heaters, which can actually be ENERGY STAR-certified and save a lot of money in the long run. They, like standard water heaters, come in gas and electric versions.

So, how much can you save with a high-efficiency storage tank? Expect to save 10-20% more than your average, standard water heater.

Solar heaters are also an option, although there are two things that often make them less attractive to homeowners and renters. The first is cost. Want a solar-powered water heater? Expect to spend as much as $10,000. Also, it can take quite a while to get paid back for upfront costs. Some solar water heaters take as long as 30 years to earn back what you’ve put into them.

The last, and probably one of the most popular options, is the point-of-use water heater. These heaters cost less to buy and can even be installed without outside help. They provide on-demand hot water for specific areas, like your shower or kitchen faucet. They come in a wide variety of models, from 2.5 gallons all the way up to 30 gallons. While they definitely reduce the water that flows from the tap when you’re normally waiting for the heat to turn on, they actually don’t save very much money in the energy department.

So, while they’re certainly convenient and save water, they probably won’t make much of a dent in your energy bill.

Remember that across the board, in regards to all of these heater options, having good maintenance is an essential part of energy saving. If your water heater isn’t working at its best, you’re bound to see that reflected in your electricity bill.

Your washing machine

Unless your washing machine has an ENERGY STAR label, it’s probably going to be an energy drainer. Why? Because much of the energy used by your washing machine is in heating the water.

Watts-wise, most washing machines use up between 400 and 1300 watts. The older models that load from the top are notorious for using more energy, while the front-loaders, the more modern versions, useless.

To save money, invest in an ENERGY STAR-rated washer. But also consider washing your clothes in cold water. By washing your clothing in cold water, you’ll save a significant amount of money because no heating is involved.

There’s also the matter of how much water these machines use. The more modern front-loading machines use up to 60% less than top-loaders, so take that into consideration when you make your purchase.

Your clothes dryer

Simply stated, your dryer is an energy hog. While most dryers use up to 5,000 watts to operate (average being 3,000), your microwave might use just 1,200. Factor in a lint screen with a buildup that takes longer to dry clothes, or putting towels in with other items, and you’re looking at a big bill at the end of the month.

The good news? There are definitely energy-saving versions of dryers out there. The bad news is they can be expensive.

So, how can you reduce your bill using good habits? Start by checking your dryer vent. Is it blocked? If so, make sure you unblock it. A blocked dryer vent can easily start a fire, so make sure you clear that out before you do your next load.

Another tip? Clean the lint trap. You can do this in-between loads, but you can also check mid-load to make sure you’re not wasting extra energy by having a screen filled with lint.

Also, consider hanging your clothes out to dry. This requires planning, because it will definitely take longer to air-dry clothes than using your dryer. However, air-drying clothes is environmentally friendly and will definitely save you cash in the long run.

Companies like Stream Energy offer discount energy services to states like Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania, which can also reduce your energy bill. But even if you get discount energy services from an electricity provider like Stream Energy, you should do your part to save on your bill. The Stream Energy blog has even more recommendations on saving energy to cut down your bill.

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