Combined heat and power (CHP) systems, also known as cogeneration, generate electricity and useful thermal energy in a single, integrated system. CHP is not a technology, but an approach to applying technologies. Heat that is normally wasted in conventional power generation is recovered as useful energy, which avoids the losses that would otherwise be incurred from separate generation of heat and power. While the conventional method of producing usable heat and power separately has a typical combined efficiency of 45 percent, CHP systems can operate at levels as high as 80 percent.
Conventional generation is inherently inefficient, only converting on average about a third of the input fuel’s potential energy into usable energy. Engineers have long appreciated the tremendous efficiency opportunity of combining electricity generation with thermal loads in buildings and factories, capturing much of the energy that would otherwise be wasted. When the word “cogeneration” was coined in the 1970s to describe this practice, the dominant configuration of systems was a boiler that generated steam, some of which was used to turn a steam turbine that generated electricity. Due to the cost and complexity of these systems, they were largely confined to systems of over 50 MW, thus precluding their installation at most manufacturing facilities. However, recent advances in electricity-efficient, cost-effective generation technologies—in particular advanced combustion turbines and reciprocating engines—have allowed for new configurations of systems that combine heat and power production, expanding opportunities for these systems and increasing the amount of electricity they can produce. These CHP systems now come in many more configurations, and can even satisfy compressed air requirements by bleeding high-pressure air off the compressor stage of a combustion turbine.
New turbines are now cost effective for systems down to 500 kW and reciprocating engines for systems down to 50 kW, dramatically expanding the number of sites where CHP can be installed. In fact, many existing industrial boilers can be re-powered with advanced generation equipment, replacing existing fuel burners and adding electricity generation capability while reducing pollutant emissions.
New generations of turbines and reciprocating engines are the result of an intensive collaborative research by government and industry that uses advanced materials and computer-aided design techniques that have dramatically increased equipment efficiency and reliability while reducing costs and pollutant emissions. These technologies, applied in CHP, are poised to satisfy a significant portion of the U.S.’s growing electricity needs, while continuing to meet our thermal demands. According to a 2012 joint report from the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), CHP currently makes up about 8 percent of U.S. total generating capacity. The present installed capacity of CHP in the U.S. is about 82 GW, and the Obama administration has set an official goal of 40 GW of additional CHP capacity by 2020. Additionally, as the U.S. EPA establishes new rules to reduce CO2 from power plants, CHP has been identified as a critical tool to reduce CO2 cost-effectively.
Energy efficiency is being outpaced by growth in energy demand, but a more efficient world is possible
A Time of Increasing Uncertainties
Major transformations are underway for the global energy sector, from growing electrification to the expansion of renewables, upheavals in oil production and globalization of natural gas markets. Across all regions and fuels, policy choices made by governments will determine the shape of the energy system of the future.
At a time when geopolitical factors are exerting new and complex influences on energy markets, underscoring the critical importance of energy security, World Energy Outlook 2018 (WEO 2018), the International Energy Agency’s flagship publication, details global energy trends and what possible impact they will have on supply and demand, carbon emissions, air pollution, and energy access.
The WEO’s scenario-based analysis outlines different possible futures for the energy system across all fuels and technologies. It offers a contrast with different pathways, based on current and planned policies, and those that can meet long-term climate goals under the Paris Agreement, reduce air pollution, and ensure universal energy access.
While the geography of energy consumption continues its historic shift to Asia, WEO 2018 finds mixed signals on the pace and direction of change. Oil markets, for instance, are entering a period of renewed uncertainty and volatility, including a possible supply gap in the early 2020s. Demand for natural gas is on the rise, erasing talk of a glut as China emerges as a giant consumer. Solar PV is charging ahead, but other low-carbon technologies and especially efficiency policies still require a big push.
In all cases, governments will have a critical influence in the direction of the future energy system. Under current and planned policies, modeled in the New Policies Scenario, energy demand is set to grow by more than 25% to 2040, requiring more than $2 trillion a year of investment in new energy supply.
“Our analysis shows that over 70% of global energy investments will be government-driven and as such the message is clear – the world’s energy destiny lies with government decisions,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director. “Crafting the right policies and proper incentives will be critical to meeting our common goals of securing energy supplies, reducing carbon emissions, improving air quality in urban centers, and expanding basic access to energy in Africa and elsewhere.”
The analysis shows oil consumption growing in coming decades, due to rising petrochemicals, trucking and aviation demand. But meeting this growth in the near term means that approvals of conventional oil projects need to double from their current low levels. Without such a pick-up in investment, US shale production, which has already been expanding at record pace, would have to add more than 10 million barrels a day from today to 2025, the equivalent of adding another Russia to global supply in seven years – which would be an historically unprecedented feat.
In power markets, renewables have become the technology of choice, making up almost two-thirds of global capacity additions to 2040, thanks to falling costs and supportive government policies. This is transforming the global power mix, with the share of renewables in generation rising to over 40% by 2040, from 25% today, even though coal remains the largest source and gas remains the second-largest.
This expansion brings major environmental benefits but also a new set of challenges that policy makers need to address quickly. With higher variability in supplies, power systems will need to make flexibility the cornerstone of future electricity markets in order to keep the lights on. The issue is of growing urgency as countries around the world are quickly ramping up their share of solar PV and wind, and will require market reforms, grid investments, as well as improving demand-response technologies, such as smart meters and battery storage technologies.
Electricity markets are also undergoing a unique transformation with higher demand brought by the digital economy, electric vehicles and other technological change. As part of its deep-dive into the electricity sector this year, WEO 2018 also examines what impact of higher electrification in transportation, buildings and industry. The analysis finds that higher electrification would lead to a peak in oil demand by 2030, and reduce harmful local air pollutant. But it would have a negligible impact on carbon emissions without stronger efforts to increase the share of renewables and low-carbon sources of power.
The IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario offers a pathway to meeting various climate, air quality and universal access goals in an integrated way. In this scenario, global energy-related CO2 emissions peak around 2020 and then enter a steep and sustained decline, fully in line with the trajectory required to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
But most emissions linked to energy infrastructure are already essentially locked-in. In particular, coal-fired power plants, which account for one-third of energy-related CO2 emissions today, represent more than a third of cumulative locked-in emissions to 2040. The vast majority of these are related to projects in Asia, where average coal plants are just 11-years-old on average with decades left to operate, compared with 40 years on average age in the United States and Europe.
“We have reviewed all current and under-construction energy infrastructure around the world – such as power plants, refineries, cars and trucks, industrial boilers, and home heaters – and find they will account for some 95% of all emissions permitted under international climate targets in coming decades,” said Dr Birol.
“This means that if the world is serious about meeting its climate targets then, as of today, there needs to be a systematic preference for investment in sustainable energy technologies. But we also need to be much smarter about the way that we use our existing energy system. We can create some room for maneuver by expanding the use of Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage, hydrogen, improving energy efficiency, and in some cases, retiring capital stock early. To be successful, this will need an unprecedented global political and economic effort.”
Global energy demand rose by 1.9% in 2017 – the fastest annual increase since 2010. The forces driving up energy demand, led by strong economic growth, outpaced progress on energy efficiency. As a result energy intensity – primary energy use per unit of GDP – fell by just 1.7% in 2017, the slowest rate of improvement this decade.
Average Annual Change in Energy Intensity
Historically and in the Efficient World Scenario (EWS)
However, by taking a range of cost-effective energy efficiency opportunities widely available today, energy intensity would improve by around 3% per year, between now and 2040.
Green homes are designed using a process that is environmentally responsible and resource-efficient. All aspects of the house from exterior to interior design is given this eco-friendly touch. Even operation, construction and maintenance are done in a manner that it does not affect the environment. Green buildings which is also known as green construction or sustainable building looks into the durability, economy, utility and comfort of a home.
With the recent condition of our environment, both architects and civil engineers work hand in hand to come up with eco-friendly homes and buildings. This is part of their belief that as building professionals, it is their responsibility to create homes that will not ruin the environment. That is why green homes are being created. It uses materials that are good for the environment and even cost-effective. Another advantage of green homes is the different level of homey comfort it gives to the homeowners. It also has distinct aesthetics that sets it apart from other home designs. There are certain things that designers usually look into when designing green homes. We have here ten insights that you can take into account.
1. Site Conditions.
Of course, before you plan in making your home, you have to determine which site you would like to use. Observe if the area inspires you and suites to your wants. It should also be able to provide space for solar access, gardens, privacy, water and air. Since a green home is built to last, you need to look for a land you truly like where you can spend most of your time.
2. Building Orientation.
It is important to consider how your home is positioned in the location you have chosen. Make sure that it is aligned on the east-west axis and the windows face true north or true south. For places with hot climates, place large windows at the north side to scoop in cool air and spread light. On the south side, have smaller windows and have shades for direct sunlight by using canopies and roof overhang. For cooler climates, minimize window sizes on the north side to minimize heat loss and larger windows on the south side to let more sunlight in. The manner of positioning your home is important to make sure your house is comfortable enough no matter what the climate is.
3. Building Materials.
If you are serious about having a green home, use materials that make your home environmental friendly. You can make use of cement, ceramics, bricks, aluminum, glass, and steel as the main raw material in building your home. Before, wood is the primary material for green homes but due to the issue on illegal logging, wood is replaced by mild steel and aluminum. Mild steel can be used for roof trusses, walling, ceiling and others. Mild steel is stainless, lighter, more robust, easy to install and would last longer. You can also use LED lightings, non-toxic paint , recycled glass, recycled tiles, recycled aluminum and other recycled materials.
Windows could be made of wood or aluminum frames. Aluminum can be reused, free of toxins, energy-saving, cost-effective and free of cancer causing substances. The size of windows can be adjusted in relation to the mass of walls and floors that receives direct or indirect light. Place roof overhangs, canopies or awnings to shade your room from excessive heat. Try to determine the direction of prevailing winds and use casement windows on these areas for it can help hollowing out air that can give natural ventilation.
Choose room locations by considering the mount of natural light and air that could enter it. You can also take into consideration the amount of heat that can enter your room in some time of the day. But you also have to consider the usage of the room in order to determine which ones will need enough heat and cold.
6. Home Layout.
Most green homes have open design layouts in order to reduce construction cost. It also improves light and ventilation. It would also be easier to arrange your furniture if you have an open space. If you would like to have a touch of nature in some parts of the house, you can have them directly connected to an outdoor space for gatherings.
Green roofing is great for it is cost efficient and attractive. Using a green roofing system can give extra insulation that helps keep energy consumption down. It can be used on some parts of the roof or for the entire roof. If you will not use green grass roofs, you can still go green by controlling storm water runoff with perimeter drains, gutters and subsurface drainage systems. You can collect rain water using rainwater catchment so that it can be used for washing clothes, flushing toilets, watering plants and irrigating landscapes. Do not use asphalt shingles if you plan to use rainwater for vegetation and drinking.
8. Wall Materials.
Choose materials that can absorb solar heat like natural or fabricated brick. Bricks made up of sand, lime, cement and others are good for they are fire-resistant, absorb sun’s heat and have low water absorption. Some use ceramics for their walls which is also good for it is low in maintenance and could create an elegant look.
9. Flooring Materials.
Depending on the function of your room, you can choose from a variety of flooring materials like marble, parquet, granite, terrazzo, ceramic, wood and bamboo. But if you really want an eco-friendly flooring, it would be better to use laminated wood and bamboo especially for your bedroom.
10. Use solar panels.
Solar panels can be used as your source of electrical energy. Aside from economy, it can also give you protect you from fires and short circuits. Solar panels are placed on the roof facing the east to west in order to make sure that you will get enough solar energy. If you haven’t placed solar panels yet, make sure that your roof is designed with this provision. Pick a roofing material that will reflect radiant heat like a light-colored standing seam metal roof.
Having a green home is just a small step to save the planet in a way that it also gives vital benefits to the homeowners. This is just a simple way of doing our role for nature. So, instead of just designing a home for the benefit of the owners, why don’t you try considering the amount of energy and resources that could be saved in building it? That could already be a great help for the environment and could also help give your children’s children an assured, safe and healthy future.
“Energy efficient” is becoming more than just a buzzword; it’s a way of life for a growing number of homeowners who embrace sustainable living. Maybe you’ve lived in your house for years and it’s finally time for an upgrade. Or you’re building a new house from scratch and want to create something amazing.
Whatever the reason, you are probably wondering how to make your home more energy-efficient. We picked out a few fun and practical tips to get you on your way. Fun, functional, easy, and efficient coming right up.
1. Set the Mood
Save energy in your home and set the mood. A dimmer switch lets you reduce lighting when you don’t need it, and occupancy sensors turn lights off after you leave a room.
2. Get Steamy
Steam showers not only have health benefits like helping you to relax, installing one will likely raise the value of your home. Oh, and it’s incredibly green. While typical showers use seven gallons of water per minute, steam showers use only one.
3. Easy USB Access
Many newly built homes come with wall outlets that have USB slots these days, but even if you aren’t building from scratch, they’re an incredibly useful addition that is fairly easy to add for someone with a bit of electrical experience.
4. Safe, Durable, & Efficient Windows
If you live in a coastal area where hurricanes are common, impact-rated windows are required by law, but even for those living in other areas there are many benefits to installing these windows, such as improved security, reduced noise, and better energy efficiency, that make them a wise investment.
5. Multi-Zone HVAC
Is there one room in the house that’s always too hot? Or too cold? You can solve that problem by getting a multi-zone HVAC with thermostats in each room that allow you to adjust temperatures on a room-to-room basis.
6. Indoor Garden Oasis
In other countries around the world, it’s common to include little gardens throughout houses to make rooms feel bigger and improve air quality and ventilation, so bring a little international flavor to your home.
7. Downgrade Wattage on Lightbulbs
Switch out your least used bulbs. You probably don’t need 100-watt bulbs in closets or a guest bedroom. Downgrade these and other less-used lights to 60-watt or even 40-watt bulbs to conserve home energy.
8. Add a Ceiling Fan
Ceiling fans are a great way to conserve electricity year-round. They are economical and efficient, and they use about the same amount of energy as a 100-watt light bulb. In summer, set your fan to spin counterclockwise, then set your thermostat a few degrees higher to save as much as 40 percent on your cooling bills. In winter, switch fan blades to spin clockwise and save up to 10 percent on your heating bills.
9. Buy Local
Choose Earth-friendly products that used the minimum amount of energy to get to you. Consider that tile shipped from Italy travels halfway around the world; tile shipped from a local company uses much less energy as it moves from its source to you.
10. Landscape to Save Energy
Save energy at home with landscaping. Plant deciduous trees on the south and west sides of your house. In summer, the leaves will shade your house; in winter, the bare branches will let the sun through for added warmth.
Knowledge about air duct cleaning is in its early stages, so a blanket recommendation cannot be offered as to whether you should have your air ducts in your home cleaned. However, there are many things to consider when making your decision.
Duct cleaning has never been shown to actually prevent health problems. Neither do studies conclusively demonstrate that particle (e.g., dust) levels in homes increase because of dirty air ducts. This is because much of the dirt in air ducts adheres to duct surfaces and does not necessarily enter the living space. It is important to keep in mind that dirty air ducts are only one of many possible sources of particles that are present in homes. Pollutants that enter the home both from outdoors and indoor activities such as cooking, cleaning, smoking, or just moving around can cause greater exposure to contaminants than dirty air ducts. Moreover, there is no evidence that a light amount of household dust or other particulate matter in air ducts poses any risk to your health.
You should consider having the air ducts in your home cleaned if:
There is substantial visible mold growth inside hard surface (e.g., sheet metal) ducts or on other components of your heating and cooling system. There are several important points to understand concerning mold detection in heating and cooling systems:
Many sections of your heating and cooling system may not be accessible for a visible inspection, so ask the service provider to show you any mold they say exists.
You should be aware that although a substance may look like mold, a positive determination of whether it is mold or not can be made only by an expert and may require laboratory analysis for final confirmation. For about $50, some microbiology laboratories can tell you whether a sample sent to them on a clear strip of sticky household tape is mold or simply a substance that resembles it.
If you have insulated air ducts and the insulation gets wet or moldy it cannot be effectively cleaned and should be removed and replaced.
If the conditions causing the mold growth in the first place are not corrected, mold growth will recur.
Ducts are infested with vermin, e.g. (rodents or insects).
Ducts are clogged with excessive amounts of dust and debris and/or particles are actually released into the home from your supply registers.
If any of the conditions identified above exists, it usually suggests one or more underlying causes. Prior to any cleaning, retrofitting, or replacing of your ducts, the cause or causes must be corrected or else the problem will likely recur.
Some research suggests that cleaning heating and cooling system components (e.g., cooling coils, fans and heat exchangers) may improve the efficiency of your system, resulting in a longer operating life, as well as some energy and maintenance cost savings. However, little evidence exists that cleaning only the ducts will improve the efficiency of the system.
You may consider having your air ducts cleaned simply because it seems logical that air ducts will get dirty over time and should be occasionally cleaned. Provided that the cleaning is done properly, no evidence suggests that such cleaning would be detrimental. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not recommend that the air ducts be cleaned routinely, but only as needed. EPA does, however, recommend that if you have a fuel burning furnace, stove or fireplace, they be inspected for proper functioning and serviced before each heating season to protect against carbon monoxide poisoning.
If you do decide to have your air ducts cleaned, take the same consumer precautions you normally would in assessing the service provider’s competence and reliability.
Air duct cleaning service providers may tell you that they need to apply chemical biocide to the inside of your ducts as a means to kill bacteria (germs) and fungi (mold) and prevent future biological growth. They may also propose the application of a “sealant” to prevent dust and dirt particles from being released into the air or to seal air leaks. You should fully understand the pros and cons of permitting application of chemical biocides or sealants. While the targeted use of chemical biocides and sealants may be appropriate under specific circumstances, research has not demonstrated their effectiveness in duct cleaning or their potential adverse health effects. No chemical biocides are currently registered by EPA for use in internally-insulated air duct systems (see Should chemical biocides be applied to the inside of air ducts?).
Whether or not you decide to have the air ducts in your home cleaned, preventing water and dirt from entering the system is the most effective way to prevent contamination (see How to Prevent Duct Contamination).
Weatherization and other energy efficiency upgrades can have negative impacts on occupant health and safety if not accompanied by appropriate indoor air quality (IAQ) protections. With an increase in weatherization and energy efficiency improvement activities, consideration should be given to include incentives for ensuring that energy upgrades are accompanied by appropriate IAQ actions.
By addressing IAQ at the beginning of weatherization and/or retrofit efforts, greater energy savings can be achieved per house, pollutant exposure problems can be avoided, and public health can be protected. It also means decreasing the potential risks of additional costs to resolve IAQ problems related to retrofit activities, which decrease productivity and increase business costs for the weatherization industry.
The following overview summarizes IAQ challenges related to weatherization and energy efficiency retrofit activities, and highlights recommended solutions to help prevent IAQ problems during weatherization efforts.
Indoor pollutant exposures may be increased due to air-tightening activities.
Tightening a building is essential for energy efficiency but may also have the unintended consequence of allowing contaminants that would otherwise be diluted in leaky homes to build up to unhealthy levels, including:
Combustion gases, including deadly carbon monoxide
Secondhand smoke in homes of smokers, or in attached multi-family dwellings adjacent to smokers
Hundreds of chemicals — volatile organic compounds, or VOCs — used in many building materials and consumer products.
Indoor pollutant exposures caused by improper retrofit activities.
Improperly conducted retrofits may disturb dangerous materials such as lead in paint and asbestos in flooring and insulation products.
Mold and moisture problems caused or exacerbated by retrofit activities.
If a retrofit does not properly address mold and moisture control, such as water vapor transport and condensation, significant moisture problems can occur in a retrofitted home. In addition, moisture-laden building materials can trap additional moisture in a retrofitted building.
Missed opportunities to improve indoor air quality during retrofit activities.
Home energy audit and retrofit activities often present opportunities for achieving IAQ improvements, yet these opportunities may be missed due to lack of information on IAQ and/or funding limitations. Although many weatherization and energy efficiency retrofit programs include minimum IAQ protections, they are generally not sufficient to improve IAQ. The following list highlights a few of the most commonly missed opportunities to improve IAQ during retrofit activities:
Fresh air ventilation system
Radon testing and mitigation
Removal or isolation of other pollutant sources, such as garage and attic pollutant sources, combustion gases, mold and pests.
Indoor Air Quality Solutions
Investment in doing retrofit jobs properly will result in higher quality outcomes, far fewer building failures and health problems, and in most cases additional energy savings. Furthermore, the additional services required to prevent IAQ problems and improve public health require professional training and certification which can create more green jobs, and will help sustain new green jobs through enhanced value and customer satisfaction.
Establish minimum “do no harm” measures for energy retrofit and other building upgrade activities.
By establishing retrofit program minimum IAQ requirements accompanied by appropriate quality assurance, program activities can avoid the worst IAQ problems. The following recommended minimum IAQ criteria are a starting point for program development:
Inspection and diagnostic testing requirements to ensure ventilation systems work properly, house pressures are managed properly, and major indoor air pollutant sources are isolated or removed. These activities are best integrated with energy efficiency assessment activities.
Ventilation system requirements, compliant with ASHRAE Residential Ventilation Standard 62.2. This requirement is essential for achieving acceptable IAQ without severely limiting the energy savings potential. However, ventilation system installation can be a cost barrier, so appropriate incentives are recommended.
Additional air-sealing requirements for IAQ purposes, such as attic-ceiling and house-garage interfaces; foundation joints and cracks; Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning systems; and duct systems.
Provide IAQ guidelines, standards, tools and training appropriate for the needs of energy retrofit program participants.
Although many such guidance and tools already exist, the multi-faceted and complex nature of the IAQ field means that they are widely dispersed and potentially difficult for non-IAQ experts to identify or access. This will require IAQ expert involvement to ensure program standards, protocols and training curricula developed for these programs adequately address IAQ. EPA has developed the following comprehensive IAQ guidelines for addressing IAQ when carrying out renovations or energy efficiency upgrades in homes and schools:
Reduce financial barriers to specification of IAQ measures during the weatherization and energy efficiency retrofit activities.
Traditionally, weatherization and energy efficiency retrofit activities are driven by costs and funds availability. Even when weatherization and home performance contractors recognize the need to address IAQ issues during the audit and retrofit processes, they frequently are unable to implement them because of restricted budgets. This has led to unintended IAQ problems and severe limitations in achievable energy. By allowing a modest increase in financial incentive payments per job to account for IAQ improvements, these limitations can be overcome, which will lead to increased energy efficiency achieved per house and improved IAQ and health for weatherization and home energy retrofit clients. Similarly, IAQ improvements should be factored into financing mechanisms used to encourage energy efficiency retrofits. Measures that should be considered for additional incentives and/or preferred financing include:
All of the recommended minimum IAQ requirements described above, including IAQ assessment fees, air-sealing, and ventilation system installation
Upgrades that improve both energy efficiency and IAQ, such as high-efficiency sealed-combustion furnaces and power-vented water heaters
Radon mitigation systems
Lead paint removal, especially then accompanied by energy savings, i.e., efficient window replacements
Moisture problem mitigation
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) services
Specification of low or no-VOC materials.
More people are weatherizing (sealing and insulating) their homes and buildings to offset outdoor temperature changes and to help save energy by reducing the need for heating and cooling changes. Ventilation is an important part of a building’s heating and cooling system because it helps reduce indoor pollutants. Weatherizing without maintaining proper ventilation can negatively affect indoor air.
Moisture accumulates inside homes during everyday activities such as cooking, taking showers, and hanging wet laundry which increases the relative humidity level indoors. Without air ventilation, the humidity level remains high and can provide a breeding ground for mold, mites and bacteria.
Poor ventilation also can lead to increased indoor exposure to pollutants because there isn’t any exchange with outdoor air to dilute or remove the concentration of the pollutants:
Garlic may ward off bloodsucking vampires, but it won’t scare off vampire energy. Vampire energy, or standby power, is the electric power that is wasted by the electronic devices plugged in but not in use.
We aren’t talking about chump change, either. According to NRDC.org, Americans spend roughly $19 billion on inactive electronics or devices every year.
If your phone charger is plugged in with no phone attached, or you’ve ever left the TV on in another room,you’re going to want to read our guide. We’ve compiled all you need to know about the electricity-wasting vampires that could be sucking funds from your pockets year-round –from which rooms typically contain the biggest culprits to the cost differences between devices that are asleep, idle, or completely off. T
The Costliest Rooms
Electronics are constantly changing. In fact, you no longer have to visit the theater to watch a movie in 3-D; the TV in your living room right now might be able to produce the same effect. You don’t even need to hire a photographer anymore; instead, your own smartphone could be capturing pictures comparable to those of high-quality cameras. And with upgraded coffee makers steeping top coffee brands and brews, who has time for a Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru?
This persistent improvement of technology is driving consumer interests and purchasing behaviors. More and more gadgets are making their way into our homes, which means more and more to plug in and forget about. The unconscious effect of all these devices, though? A rising electricity bill.
Take a moment to look around your home. Which room has the majority of electronics plugged in but not being used? The answer is probably your living room. According to our research, the average living room contributes over $117 in lost money annually due to idle, unused technology –which includes the ones that aren’t even on. The biggest offender could be your cable box. Even when you turn it off with the remote, it may still be costing you more than $48 a year when not in use.
Other rooms you may want to “stake” out for unwelcome energy vampires? If you have a home office equipped with a desktop computer, cable modem, or even audio equipment, you could be losing close to $59 a year on devices you think aren’t costing you money. Even when you think your laser printer is off, the amount of energy it used in standby mode could be costing you money around the clock.
Understanding the Expense
So what does this mean for your wallet?
The cost of keeping the lights on in your house largely depends on where in the country you live, and although those costs have largely been decreasing in recent years, wasted electricity could still be costing you more than you realize.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the common American spends an average of $1,444 annually on electricity costs. Roughly 14 percent of that expense is attributed to vampire energy. While overall electricity costs are decreasing, the amount of wasted energy is up from 2015, where vampire energy was to blame for “5 to 10 percent of an average home’s energy use.”
This means in recent years, the average American family appears to have almost doubled their standby power costs, throwing away an estimated $197.49 on unused energy each year. What could you do with that extra cash? Put it into your savings, use it for your next family vacation, or even invest in your own small business.
Seeing the Big Picture
The cost of vampire energy in your home may only amount to $200 a year, but imagine that cost spread across every home, neighborhood, and state. With an average of almost 132 million residential consumer units in the U.S., that’s over $26 billion wasted on vampire energy.
With proposals to reduce or eliminate the budgets that fund programs like debt forgiveness for Americans with student loans, affordable housing for low-income Americans, and even legal services for those in need, that $26 billion could have far-reaching effects. Our chart displays just a few of the things the U.S. could invest in if people were more aware of vampire energy.
If we saved the average annual cost of vampire energy, that money could be used to employ 50,000 teachers for 10 years, or to perhaps increase the salaries of teachers in states where earnings are less for the crucial task of educating our children. As well, $26 billion could be used to buy 35 million laptops for kids and people in need or feed more than 3.4 million people three times a day for an entire year. Today, 7 million Americans experience hunger every day, a rate that has yet to decrease since 2010 after the recession.
What This Really Means for You
The vampire energy calculator has the potential to help you see which devices are costing you the most. Using this tool,you’ll have a better understanding of exactly how much of your money is wasted on the electronic devices you don’t use.
The calculator uses the location data you input in addition to the information we’ve collected about the average expenses typically incurred by a home or apartment and various electronic devices, including your computer, television, and even cable usage.
Try the vampire energy calculator for a better idea of what you can do to reduce wasted electricity and save for future expenses.
The Main Offenders
If you think devices in low-power mode or standby aren’t using up electricity –think again. Even when you aren’t using certain common household electronics (including your computer, cable box, and video game system), they can suck up power as long as they’re plugged into the wall. While the energy usage may be reduced for some gadgets, others utilize nearly the same amount when not in use. Our chart above displays ordinary devices that use vampire energy and their average annual costs.
According to our research, digital set-top cable boxes with DVR cost homeowners the most, even when the TV is off and they’re not recording anything: averaging roughly $50 annually. Other set-top cable boxes proved to be vampire energy culprits as well, with average annual costs ranging from roughly $17 to $40 each. Sleeping desktop ($23.48) and notebook ($17.53) computers were also energy drains.
Devices costing you the most even when they’re completely off? CD players, audio receivers, and DVD players all sink their teeth into your wallet just by being plugged in.
What You Can Do About It
Don’t let all that doom and gloom about wasted energy get you down. The good news is that reducing vampire energy isn’t difficult. There are four primary recommendations provided by the U.S. Department of Energy to help you cut back on waste and pocket a little extra cash at the same time:
Unplug your devices when you’re not using them: Some aren’t worth constantly unplugging, but if there are appliances you don’t use often, try unplugging them until you use them again.
Utilize power strips to give you more control over your electronics: Power strips give you the ability to control the power usage of your devices better.
Turn your devices off rather than leaving them on idle or sleep mode: Turning electronics off will lead to decreased costs.
Replace old appliances with those from energy-saving brands: Energy-saving brands, like Energy Star, use less energy than more common device brands.
If you want to do more, we’ve got a few extra recommendations to truly make your home energy efficient.
If your air conditioning is running while nobody’s home, that could be costing you big. Make sure the AC is powered down when you leave for the day or consider investing in a smart thermostat to do the heavy lifting for you. In the office, make sure your computer is set to sleep mode after a certain period of idleness and go the extra mile by turning it off completely when you aren’t using it. In the living room, consider turning off any lights when you aren’t in the room, and plugging all of your devices into a power strip you can turn off when they aren’t in use.
No matter the appliance, if it’s plugged in, there are ways to decrease vampire energy and save money you may not have realized you were losing.
Warding Off Energy Vampires
The average American spends 10 hours a day interacting with connected devices between their tablets, phones, computers, and gaming devices. Not including the major electronic devices and appliances that exist throughout most homes (like air conditioning, cable boxes, and TVs), there are plenty of opportunities for wasted energy – and money – in almost every room.