For the challenge about home electricity use the families were tasked with monitoring the energy consumption of items around the house, ranging from countertop appliances to gaming systems and more. The process was illuminating—electricity pun intended! We discovered some items aren’t really costing us much and are very helpful items to have in regular use, BUT also some items that cost more than we realized and are worth either parting ways with or replacing with something else.
An example of something we found to be an efficient alternative to using something with higher energy usage is the toaster over—it is much more efficient than heating up the entire main oven unless you are baking/roasting something that just won’t fit in the smaller capacity appliance. Quite often that isn’t the case though.
An example of something we thought wasn’t costing us much but added to our comfort and enjoyment of the main living space is an electric fireplace. When we first bought it second-hand we looked at the rating and roughly guessed that it was pretty efficient. However, after using the power meter we realized that this seemingly innocuous item was costing us—or has the potential to cost us—a few hundred dollars a year. We were shocked—second electricity pun intended!
Our upgraded triple-glazed windows and our new heat pump and air handler have already made our main living area more cozy. But even so, there is something so pleasing about a fireplace, even an electric one, that it could be tempting to use it still. Now, armed with actual data, not guesses, we quickly decided we didn’t need it and to cull some items from the home in order to only retain the most energy-efficient items possible. Fireplace, with your fake flames and lovely localized warmth, it’s been good to know ya but you gotta go!
We highly encourage you to get an energy meter and do some testing of the items around your home and see if there is a hidden power-use monster hiding in plain sight. For us, parting ways with our electric fireplace and using a our high-efficiency wood-burning fireplace and our new highly-efficient heat pump is going to provide all the warmth and comfort we need while costing us less to do it.