To know the average consumption of energy in a household, we must first discuss what energy consumption is. So, without ever doing any research, or looking up the formal definition of the word, I think we would all assume that energy consumption could be defined as the amount of renewable and nonrenewable resources used to power everyday life.
Energy can be found in many different forms. This day and age, we’re accustomed to forms of energy that are powered by coal, nuclear power plants, natural gas, wind farms or even solar panels. If you would like to know which form of energy you use, you can visit the EPA’s website and type in your zip code and it should give you a description of your energy source. For example, my zip code search states that my energy source is powered mostly by coal.
These different forms of energy each possess their own pros and cons. Coal, for example, is the most commonly used resource to produce energy. Coal has been used for years to power many objects – from trains to grills, and now your home. Coal has always been a reliable form of energy. While it is reliable, it is also quite harmful to the environment. When large amounts of coal are burnt, large amounts of carbon dioxide are released into the environment. Having too much carbon dioxide saturating the atmosphere could pose a terrible problem in a few years. If the carbon dioxide levels were to become too great, then the amount of oxygen in the world would not be able to provide us with the levels we need to survive. This is a scary thought…
And then, on the other hand, we have natural gas. Natural gas is said to burn cleaner than coal. This means that natural gas is better for the environment than coal. This does not mean that natural gas is good for the environment though, it only means that it is better. However, it has been debated that the methane that seeps from the natural gas lines could be harmful to the environment, but these studies haven’t been proven just yet.
And the last widely used energy source is nuclear power. Nuclear power is the most unknown of all power supplies. Nuclear power in itself has formed a stigma for being uncontrollable and powerful. However some countries are utilizing nuclear power to sustain their societies, despite these worries. It is seemingly better for the environment than both coal and natural gas. But, it is speculated that nuclear power could cause cancer, birth defects, or even mutations due to its radioactive nature. I suppose only time will tell whether nuclear power is the way to go or if we should find other forms of energy.
Now that we have discussed the different forms of energy, we can now discuss how we use these forms inside our homes. Today we use energy for practically everything. Have you ever just sat inside your home with every appliance turned off, and every light flipped off – not using an ounce of energy? If you answered yes to this question, then you must have forgotten to pay your power bill that month, because this is practically impossible. We as a society have become reliant on our smart phones, televisions, computers, tablets, e-readers and other electronic devices. And how do these devices work? We have to plug them in every night, and probably a couple of times during the day as well. They have to draw energy from somewhere and store it.
With this growth of devices comes the growth of energy consumption.
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly how much energy is consumed on average though. When you take into account everything you have plugged into the wall, it seems like quite a bit. But, your energy consumption really comes down to how you use these appliances. For example, your washing machine uses considerably more energy when you use hot water opposed to cold water. Or, your refrigerator uses more energy when it’s running at full blast with the compressor on, as opposed to when the compressor turns off.
However, some devices even use energy when they’re turned off. An example of this would be your phone charger. You leave your phone charger plugged up next to your bed all day with nothing plugged into it, yet it’s still pulling power. To remedy this, you can put all of your plugs on a power strip. When you leave that room, simply switch the power strip to off. This way you can save energy and help the environment, while also saving yourself money on your next power bill.
Now that we’re more knowledgeable on the average household’s consumption of energy, we can start attempting to conserve energy. When we conserve energy, we not only help protect our environment and our natural resources, but we also help ourselves financially. There will always be a disadvantage to abusing the amount of energy we use, but it will never be wrong to conserve energy.