If you wanted to reduce your home's energy consumption, what's the first thing you would do? If you're like most people, you'd start by turning off more lights, or maybe the TV. However, the appliances that will save you the most energy are the ones you rarely think about.
Picture: Skip Moore
Turning off your lights saves a bit of energy, sure. However, things like your water heater or air conditioner use heaps of energy; far more than your lightbulbs use. We tend to focus on turning off light switches because that's something we can control without sacrificing any comfort and minimal effort. As psychology doctoral student Dan Schley suggests, this is because we have an inherent bias towards the things we interact with and control:
Because they use the lights a lot, they tend to infer that lights consume a lot of energy. On the other hand, consumers tend not to think about their water heating (other than when they run out of hot water) or interact with their water heater very often.
There's also another energy drain just outside your home: your car. Between your vehicle, your home heating and air conditioning, and your water heater, most of your home's energy use can be attributed to something besides lightbulbs. That doesn't mean that you can't save money and energy by switching off the lights or the TV. However, if you want to reduce your bill (or just help out the environment, you'll need to start looking elsewhere.