How do American home energy bills breakdown?You know that your energy bills make up a sizable portion of our monthly and yearly expenses, but do you know exactly how they break down?

If you’re interested in lowering your energy bill, it helps to know where your power use is coming from so you can target specific areas of your home for improvement. By concentrating solely on the most energy-intensive areas of your home, you can make vast strides toward lowering your monthly burden without getting bogged down trying to do too much.

Here is a section-by-section breakdown of the typical home energy bill and how you can address each area.

Heating and cooling – 48 percent

According to the Department of Energy, space heating and cooling is the largest energy expense for the average home, comprising almost half of the total energy bill.

How to lower it: Check the insulation in your attic, exterior and basement walls and ceilings and make sure it is sufficiently holding in heat. Seal any leaky doors or windows, as these are also key culprits in heat loss.

Water heating – 18 percent

Water heating is the second largest energy expense in the average American home. It is an integral part of many household functions like faucets, showers and baths, dishwashers and washing machines.

How to lower it: The Simple Dollar, a popular personal finance website, wrote that you should make sure your water heater is set at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Most people never need to use water any hotter than that. You can also put a water heater blanket over the unit to keep it insulated for more energy saving.

Refrigeration – 5 percent

The always-on nature of refrigeration makes it a significant energy drain.

How to lower it: The best way to lower your refrigeration bills is to upgrade your current model to an Energy Star or other energy efficient unit. If this isn’t feasible, at least check to make sure the door seal is tight. Put a piece of paper in the door frame and shut the door on it. If the paper comes out easily, you will need to get a new seal.

Lighting – 5 percent

At five percent of your energy bill, lighting doesn’t seem like it’s a big deal. What makes lighting unique, however, is that it’s a mostly avoidable expense.

How to lower it: Replace as many older bulbs as you can with energy efficient LEDs. They cost slightly more than other types of bulbs but last far longer and use less energy, saving money in the long run. Energy Star estimates that by changing one bulb to LED, you can save anywhere from $30 – $80 over the life of the light.

Other – 24 percent

Miscellaneous expenses make up the last 24 percent of your energy bill, making them hard to target with energy-saving measures.

How to lower it: Energy Star appliances can go a long way toward reducing energy expenses in general. In addition, consider using SmartStrips – power strips that don’t allow electronics to continue using electricity after they’re turned off.

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