Many homeowners invest in high-efficiency appliances to decrease energy bills and minimize their carbon footprint. However, if your home does not have energy-saving appliances, you can still take steps to lower your monthly bills.

Blog Post Summary

  • 1. Buy the Most Energy-Efficient Units Possible
  • 2. Use Your Appliances Less
  • 3. Prevent Energy Vampirism

Here are three ways to save energy with new appliances or reduce energy use with your current appliances.

1. Buy the Most Energy-Efficient Units Possible

The easiest way to lower your carbon footprint and enjoy lower monthly bills is to invest in high-efficiency appliances. Advancements in technology mean appliances are using less power than ever before.


Appliances and electronics available on the consumer market must meet federal minimum standards for quality and energy efficiency. The US Department of Energy and the US Environmental Protection Agency set the criteria. An ENERGY STAR label on any appliance means that it significantly exceeds the minimum efficiency rating.

An ENERGY STAR-certified appliance uses a minimum of 10% less energy. The label on the appliance will give a star rating, which is how much energy it typically uses compared to other appliances in the same product line. An appliance with 5 stars is the most efficient, and one with a 1 star is the least efficient.

An ENERGY STAR-certified appliance saves you money over the appliance’s average lifespan. Not only do you get a return on your investment, but if it is certified, it is eligible for tax credits.

Some appliances are also High Efficiency. HE appliances have a separate certification process to verify eco-friendly features in addition to energy efficiency. An example is an HE washing machine, which uses 80% less water than a standard washer and also uses significantly less energy.

Energy-Efficiency Ratio for Portable Air Conditioners

When determining a portable AC’s energy efficiency, you must also look at its Energy-Efficiency Ratio (EER). The EER is determined by dividing the AC unit’s British Thermal Units (BTUs) by its wattage. A higher EER rating means greater energy efficiency. To reduce your carbon footprint, choose a system with an EER of 10 or more.

But you can’t rely solely on the EER. Two units may have the same EER but vastly different cooling capacities. Determine the square footage of the area you want to cool before selecting a portable AC.

A small window AC unit typically uses approximately 500 watts per hour to cool up to 400 square feet. A large window AC unit typically uses approximately 1,400 watts per hour to cool up to 1,000 square feet.

A portable AC unit is often on wheels and can be moved from one room to another. Larger models can cool an entire level of your home. They typically use 2,000 to 4,100 watts per hour.

Seasonal Energy-Efficiency Ratio for Central ACs and Mini-Splits

Central ACs and mini-splits use the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). Different regions of the U.S. have different minimum standards for air conditioning units sold and installed there. High-efficiency models can have a SEER between 23 and 26.

Central AC typically uses about 3.5 tons of cooling power for up to 2,000 square feet, assuming standard-height ceilings. It tends to use 1,000 watts for every ton of cooling capacity. Tall windows, the number of stories, direct sunlight exposure, poor insulation, single-pane windows affect the number of watts it consumes.

If you’re installing an AC in a new home, an addition or converted garage, or a home that doesn’t already have air ducts, consider a ductless mini-split. These systems have one outside unit and 1 or more interior units. Each zone is controlled by its own thermometer. This type of system can save a lot of energy because you won’t have to keep areas you don’t use as cold as the rest of the house. A mini-split typically uses 2,000 watts per hour to cool up to 2,000 square feet.

Tankless Water Heaters

A tankless water heater is a great way to dramatically reduce the amount of energy you use to heat water. Traditional water heaters waste energy by keeping the water at a steady, high temperature. Larger homes might require multiple tankless water heaters installed throughout the home. These highly efficient water heaters can end the problem of running out of hot water and save you money on your monthly bills.

2. Use Your Appliances Less

Being mindful of how you use appliances and lights can significantly reduce your home’s energy use. For example, you can set your AC a few degrees higher when you’re not home to maximize energy savings. Investing in a programable or smart thermostat can do this automatically.

There are many ways to save energy in the kitchen when using appliances. These include:

  • Opening the refrigerator door less often
  • Fully loading the dishwasher before running it
  • Covering cooking pans and pots to prevent heat from escaping
  • Cleaning the stove to transmit heat better
  • Using the right size burner for your cooking pan or pot
  • Using smaller cooking appliances such as a convection oven, toaster oven, or air fryer for small meals
  • Regularly defrosting freezers and refrigerators to prevent frost buildup over a quarter-inch
  • Making sure refrigerator seals are airtight to prevent energy escaping

You can also reduce the amount of energy your water heater uses by washing clothes in cold water and taking shorter, cooler showers. Other energy-saving tips include:

  • Turning off lights when you leave the room
  • Using LED lightbulbs
  • Letting natural light in
  • Making sure your home is sufficiently insulated

3. Prevent Energy Vampirism

It is easy to assume that turning an appliance off means it’s no longer using energy. But leaving appliances plugged in leads to energy draining even when you’re not actively using them. This is known as energy vampirism.

Some common appliances that drain energy are:

  • Cellphone chargers and cordless phones
  • Portable vacuums
  • Microwave ovens
  • Computers, TVs, and stereos
  • Cable and satellite boxes
  • Internet routers and modems
  • Printers and scanners
  • Game consoles

When plugged in, these types of electrical appliances draw power to be ready for use at any time. Game consoles, computers, and other devices often have a standby mode. While using this means you will not have to wait as long for it to turn on, it uses considerably more energy than if you allow the device to completely power down.

Other ways to prevent energy vampirism are:

  • Using power strips
  • Minimizing unnecessary digital notifications
  • Turning off screen savers
  • Decreasing power settings on the appliances you use heavily
  • Using a timer at the outlet

Conserve Energy With Our Services in San Jose, CA

At Plumbtree Plumbing & Rooter, we want your home to run as efficiently as possible. Whether you need assistance with sewer plumbing, water, gas, plumbing fixtures, or your water heater, Plumbtree Plumbing & Rooter provides maintenance, repairs, replacements, and installations. Our family-owned company provides high-quality workmanship and transparent pricing. Contact us today to find out more about our comprehensive services for installation, routine maintenance, and emergency situations.

Josh Gibson

Hi, I’m Josh. I’ve been around plumbing my whole life. When I was 5-6 years old my family built a home where I did a lot of the sanding of copper pipe and definitely some playing in the mud. Plumbing is a major part of my family as I am a fourth-generation plumber. The skills I bring to the job are a good technical knowledge of plumbing and code requirements. I am often complimented on my hands-on problem-solving skills.
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