Energy Efficiency: 6 Steps for Energy Efficient Homes
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Energy’s not cheap. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that the average U.S. household spent nearly $1,300 on electricity in 2012, consuming 903 kilowatt-hours every month.

Fortunately, today’s technology can help you get a handle on your energy consumption — and energy costs. Check out these six energy efficient appliances, gadgets, and devices designed to increase your home’s energy efficiency.

1. Home Energy Monitors

The first step to improving the energy efficiency of your home is to identify the areas, devices, or appliances consuming the most energy. A monitoring system can help you track your family’s energy usage, displaying how much energy each appliance or devices is using — and the associated costs. This type of information can help you determine how behavioral changes, such as turning off a computer or cutting back on the AC, can help you cut costs each month. Electronics stores offer several options in the $100 to $200 range.

2. Smart Power Strips

Devices and appliances plugged into the wall continue to consume small amounts of electricity even when powered off. “Smart” power strips do double duty: They allow you to plug in more devices while also cutting off the excess power they consume when they aren’t in use. Smart power strips shut down based on a timer, an occupancy sensor or when a “master” device like a computer is turned off.

3. Programmable Thermostats

Programmable thermostats can improve the energy efficiency of your home by automatically reducing your cooling or heating based on a pre-set schedule. You can set temperatures for daytime and nighttime, and even for specific days of the week. Reported in Consumer Reports' online thermostat buying guide, devices can save you $180 a year in energy costs.

4. Energy-efficient Lighting

A simple way to increase your home’s energy efficiency is to replace conventional incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent ones. These bulbs may need a little more energy when first turned on but overall lose very little energy to heat, so they consume much less power over time. You could also opt for lower wattage bulbs — 30 watts instead of 100, for example. Outdoors, consider solar-powered lighting, which recharges during the day and provides light at night.

5. Hybrid Water Heaters

Hybrid water heaters cost more than conventional water heaters but reduce energy costs over the long term. Using a pump that draws in heat from the air, they rely on less fuel to heat your home’s water. In Consumer Reports' online water heater buying guide, Consumer Reports estimates that some hybrid water heaters can provide annual savings of about 60% a year compared to electric-only.

6. Water-efficient Showerheads

Showering not only uses a significant amount of water — 40 gallons a day for an average family, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — but also saps energy as water is heated and pumped to the showerhead. High-efficiency showerheads with the WaterSense label that provide a lower flow of water can help reduce both water and energy use. The EPA estimates that the average family could save 2,900 gallons of water and 370 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year, enough to power a home for 13 days.

Whether you opt for one of these devices or all six, simple updates can put you on the road to improve the energy efficiency of your home and cut your utility bills.

For more information, check out 10 tips for increasing your energy efficiency in our How to Save Energy Checklist.

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This information is general in nature and is provided for educational purposes only. Regions makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information presented. Information provided should not be relied on or interpreted as accounting, financial planning, investment, legal, or tax advice. Regions encourages you to consult a professional for advice applicable to your specific situation.