5 Energy Leaches Sucking Your Power


Is your house sucking money down the drain? Photo credit: Flicker/stockmonkeys.com

America's energy is being sucked dry by inefficient energy leaches. These leaches are causing existing homeowners to pay 30% more for their energy than those who own a new home. Let's take a closer look at the five most common energy leaches.

Water heater
According to the Energy Information Agency about 17.7% of our energy is used by the hot water heater. That's a big chunk of the power bill.

Consumers could save between 7% and 50% by replacing that old hot water heater. The least expensive upfront option is a high-efficiency gas storage water heater. However, it will only reduce the water heating bill by 7%. General Electric , for example, offers an Energy Star qualified model that is about 7.8% more efficient than a standard model.

On the other hand, a whole-home tankless or gas condensing unit could cut water heating bills by 30%. Finally, a heat pump could cut energy usage in half. For example, General Electric's GeoSpring hybrid electric heat pump uses 62% less energy. That could save the average consumer $325 per year. Whirlpool is another company that makes a variety of energy efficient water heaters, including a hybrid electric heat pump that can cut the cost of heating water in half.

Homes built in the past decade consumed 21% less energy to heat. This is despite the fact that on average newer homes are 30% larger. For those with an older home, that furnace is likely sucking a lot of energy and money.

Many old homes are equipped with a furnace that's oversized. This causes it to operate at a lower efficiency as it will turn on and off more frequently. A properly sized, high efficient furnace could dramatically improve both comfort and heating bills.

One of the reasons why most older furnaces are dreadfully inefficient is because many homes are not properly insulated. Insulation's ability to inhibit heat flow is measured by its R-value or its resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value the better insulated a house tends to be and the better it is at retaining the air that homeowners pay to heat up or cool down.

Owings-Corning , is one company that provides consumers with an easy to use solution to better insulate homes. The company has a loose fill blown-in insulation, Owens-Corning AttiCat, that consumers can buy at a local home improvement store in order to improve R-value of their home's insulation.

Air ducts
The average air duct system leaks 30% or more of the energy the average consumer pays to heat or cool. If some rooms are too hot or too cold, improperly sealed air ducts could be the culprit. Having these properly sealed or replaced could really help to cut these energy leaches.

As a general rule of thumb, appliances over 10 years old consume twice as much as the current Energy Star appliances on the market today. Both General Electric and Whirlpool offer a variety of Energy Star appliances. For example on the cost savings, the total energy and water savings of a General Electric Energy Star qualified washing machine can pay for the initial cost of the washer over its lifetime.

Final thoughts
Each one of us likely has one or more energy leaches sucking our power and money out of our wallets. The good news is that there is something we can do about it. We could choose to invest a little money today for long-term payoff of cheaper energy bills.

Invest your energy savings

Now that you'll have some money left over, invest it. But, before you do, watch our jaw-dropping investor alert video today to find out why The Motley Fool's chief technology officer is putting $117,238 of his own money on the table, and why he's so confident this will be a huge winner in 2013 and beyond. Just click here to watch!

The article 5 Energy Leaches Sucking Your Power originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Matt DiLallo has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of General Electric Company. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Copyright © 1995 - 2013 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Originally published