If you’re trying to make your home environmentally-friendly — or make utilities less expensive — energy-efficient appliances by themselves often aren’t enough. Developing inefficiencies and malfunctions in your machines can be driving up their electricity usage. Your home can also be letting heated or cooled air escape and wasting energy. Check these five hidden issues that could be costing you a lot in energy.
1. Refrigerant could be leaking out of your HVAC system.
Refrigerant lines run from your interior HVAC unit to the condenser unit outside. That’s a lot of surface area that can get punctured, cracked or pinched over time. Even gaps at connection points along the refrigerant line could lead to a slow leak. If your HVAC system’s refrigerant line doesn’t stay pressurized and full, then it can’t pull heat out of your home as easily. That means your machine will have to do more work to provide less cooling. When you turn down the temperature to make up the difference, that causes an additional spike in power usage. Check out these signs to confirm that a refrigerant leak is behind your electricity bill’s spike.
2. You have insulation gaps in the exterior walls.
It’s hard to insulate your home perfectly. But there could be more gaps than you thought. Over time, insulation batts in the walls may get dirty, and the extra weight will make them crumple in on themselves. They can also get wet if there’s a gap in the wall. Even worse, your attic, garage doors, and windows may not have much insulation value at all. Look into options like blown-in insulation, insulated garage doors and double-paned windows.
3. Your home’s vents might be clogged or blocked.
Vents let treated air circulate throughout your home. If something is blocking that air movement, however, your thermostat will stay at the ambient temperature and keep your HVAC running. Regularly vacuum your home’s vents, especially if you have pets. Make sure the furniture isn’t blocking any vents you have closer to the floor.
4. All of your appliances’ settings could be at the maximum.
Most appliances come out of the box at their highest settings. But that may be more power than you need to get the job done. Go through all of your major appliances and check the settings. Consider lowering your refrigerator’s cooling setting and setting your washer to cool or warm. Air drying your dishes instead of using the automated drying function can also reduce your energy bill.
5. Look out for vampire devices.
You’ve probably heard of vampire devices before — electronics that, even though they’re off or paused, continue to siphon off electricity. Homes now have more electronics than ever, so all of your devices and chargers could be making your utility bill creep up. That doesn’t mean you have to unplug everything every time you leave (though that can help). Look into remote smart home systems that can help you manage all of your power usage, especially when you’re not home.
Your home might be using a lot of energy behind the scenes. Perform an energy audit or check on these five common problems to get to the bottom of your energy use.