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Energy Efficiency

The Many Devices of the Modern Family

And the many ways you can save energy using them

If you are struck by the number of screens, remote controls, gaming consoles, charging stations and cords that have become fixtures in your home, you are not alone. The typical American family is well-connected, thanks to a variety of electronic devices.

According to the Pew Research Institute, 95 percent of U.S. families have at least one cellphone, and 77 percent of Americans own a smartphone. Nearly 80 percent of adults own a laptop or desktop computer, while approximately half own tablets.

Consumer electronics coupled with a growing array of smart appliances and technology have steadily changed our homes and lifestyles. Our increased reliance on so many devices has new implications for home energy use and efficiency. 

Using Smart Technology To Manage Energy Savings

So how can we save energy when we are using more electronic devices than ever before? The answer may lie with some of those same electronic devices that have become indispensable. In many cases, energy savings can be just a touchscreen away, as more apps enable you to monitor your energy use more closely.

From the convenience of your mobile device, smart technologies can maximize your ability to manage electricity use across several platforms—controlling your thermostat, appliances, water heater, home electronics and other devices.

One of the easiest ways to make an impact on energy efficiency is with a smart thermostat. Using your mobile device, you can view and edit your thermostat’s schedule, monitor how much energy is used and make adjustments accordingly. For example, program your thermostat for weekday and weekend schedules so you are not wasting energy when no one is home. Be sure to check and adjust the program periodically to keep pace with changes in your household routines.

You also can ensure efficiency by purchasing Energy Star-certified appliances. Many new appliances include smart features, such as refrigerators that can tell you when maintenance is required or when a door has been left open. New washers, dryers and dishwashers allow you to program when you want the load to start. This means you can program your tasks for off-peak energy hours—a smart choice whenever possible.

Old-School Energy Savings for New Devices

Of course, there are also the time-tested, “old-school” methods of energy efficiency that can be applied to myriad household electronic devices and screens. Computers, printers, phones and gaming consoles are notorious “vampire” power users, meaning they drain energy (and money) even when they’re not in use. If items can be turned off without disrupting your lifestyle, consider plugging them into a power strip that can be turned on and off or placed on a timer.

While modern life involves greater dependence on technology, your best resource for saving energy and money remains your local electric co-op. Your co-op can provide guidance on energy savings, energy use, local weather patterns and additional factors unique to your community.