Energy plays an important role in our daily lives, whether we’re aware of it or not. Think about the appliances in your home, the gadgets you use and the way you travel from place to place—all of these need energy to work and to keep you going throughout your day. In fact, the average American uses more than 300 million BTUs of energy every year—and that doesn’t even include the energy used by businesses and utilities. Here are 10 ways energy is used in our daily lives, from essential household items to modern conveniences like smartphones and Netflix streaming movies.
1) Every Light Switch
Light switches are probably one of our most used sources of energy. Lighting alone accounts for around 10% of total household energy use. That’s a lot of power, but there are several ways you can reduce how much your home uses: Change all your light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs), and switch them off when they’re not needed. Also, install motion-detector lights outside your house to automatically turn on when someone approaches at night.
2) Every Appliance
You may not realize how much energy each of your appliances use. Be aware of how long you’re using things that are plugged into an outlet. Look for options to reduce power consumption and make it a habit. For example, try setting your computer or television to turn off after an hour or two—anything you can do to avoid zombie mode will help keep your energy costs down!
3) The Water Heater
When it comes to household energy use, water heaters can be a major culprit. In fact, Americans use more than 400 billion gallons of hot water per year; if that’s not a ton of wasted energy, we don’t know what is. To save on your water heating costs and save some energy, consider these simple tips
4) The Air Conditioner
Did you know that air conditioners are among one of our largest consumers of energy? Did you also know they’re essential to our well-being, especially when it comes to beating summer heat? In fact, they can make up as much as 30% of a home’s energy costs! So how do we reduce costs and help save energy? Well, you can start by investing in a more efficient air conditioner.
5) Car and Truck Alternators
The alternator converts mechanical energy from your car’s engine into electrical energy, which provides power for all of your vehicle’s electronic components, such as radios and air conditioners. You can often visually identify an alternator by its size: Alternators are huge compared to other parts of a car. They’re also noisy when they work, so you can usually hear them working while your car is running.
6) The Refrigerator
In 1960, when refrigerators were not as energy efficient as they are today, they consumed an average of 450 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year. Today, a refrigerator with an Energy Star label uses only 322 kWh per year. If we retired all old refrigerators and replaced them with newer models, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a full year.
7) Power Tools
Tools, such as drills and screwdrivers, can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Knowing how to use a drill without killing your hand or destroying an entire wall is a critical skill for any homeowner. If you’re not sure of how to use these tools, search how to use power tools on YouTube. You’ll find dozens of useful tutorials and demonstrations on using these tools properly and safely.
8) Space Heaters
Space heaters are portable heaters that can be placed anywhere that you need it. They provide gentle, soothing warmth at any time of year. If you’re planning to use your space heater as a primary heating source, be sure to read its operating instructions and heed safety warnings carefully. Using your space heater safely will not only prevent damage to your property but could also save your life.
9) Hair Dryers, Washing Machines, Clothes Dryers, Dishwashers, Pool Pumps
These items use an incredible amount of energy. You can save money and power by line-drying your clothes and using a towel instead of a washer to clean your car. It may seem like no big deal, but think about how many hours you spend watching TV or hanging out on weekends, and think about what other things you could be doing if those appliances weren’t on at that time.
We use energy to plug appliances and gadgets into outlets to charge or run them. Depending on your plugs, you can estimate that at any given time, you’re using 15 watts of energy per outlet. This number varies by country; in North America, it’s 120 volts running at 15 amps per household outlet.