The Family Room, commonly referred to as the Living Room, likely has the greatest number of energy consuming electronics. It also typically consumes the most energy with regards to lighting, controls the home’s heating and cooling, and generally has many windows, all of which can impact greatly on your various energy bills.
While the kitchen may get the most traffic, it is in the family room where we tend to sit down and relax - read a book, catch the evening news or play a video game. Even though the family room doesn’t necessarily have the most energy-intensive appliances, it is a room that gets a lot of use through the sheer number of electronic devices. Family rooms tend to have electronics that are aimed at entertainment – televisions, VCRs, DVD or Blu-ray players, gaming systems, TIVO, computers, etc. Separately, these electronics do not account for much energy usage. But because of the high usage they get, often in combination, your energy bill can begin to creep up and up. With technology continually moving forward to meet the growing need for instant information and communication, an increased number of people have even begun to surf the web while watching television.
Electronics aren’t the only thing you’ll find in the Family Room. Because of the amount of time spent in the Family Room, it should be no surprise that the bulk of the lighting use in a home occurs in the Family Room. There are many things homeowners can do to save energy on lighting just by making some behavioral adjustments. See out tips section for examples.
Heating and cooling is also a major player in your living room when it comes to energy consumption. Most homes have the thermostat that controls the home’s temperature located in the family room. The vast majority of family rooms also have at least 2 large windows in them. These windows can also be a source of both heat and cooling loss, especially if they are outdated. And where there are windows, there is also window trim. Window trim and moldings might be the only thing separating the outside from the inside around your windows. Some homes may have insulation stuffed in between the windows and the home’s framing, but not all. Check your window trim by prying back a piece or feeling around the moldings on a cold day.
Fireplaces are also a major source of heat loss. Not all homes have them, but those that do should pay close attention to them. They are a virtual straight to the great outdoors. The flue, or damper, is often only thing separating inside from outside. Failing to close it will result in the warm air inside the home being quickly sucked out as wind passes over the top of the chimney.