The ease and convenience of energy in our homes can make it difficult to remember that it’s not an unlimited resource. Each day, we make decisions to use power and energy for most of our needs. Often, we don’t think twice about the resources we’re using.
There are many ways to lower our environmental impact from the comfort of our own homes; adjusting some lifestyle habits can save energy and money. In fact, with diligence and some strategic planning, your green lifestyle choices can offset the costs associated with buying and owning your own home, all while helping reduce waste and protecting the environment.
Awareness is key to creating an energy-efficient home. Making small changes can make a huge difference. Here are nine easy ways to save energy in your home.
1. Change Your Daily Habits
You don’t always need to make sweeping changes to reduce your energy consumption. Sometimes small, 1% changes to your daily routines can make a noticeable difference. Look for quick energy-savings wins such as:
- Turning off lights when you leave a room
- Hanging your clothes to dry
- Washing dishes by hand
- Leaving the oven door closed when in use
Many of our daily routines are formed over the years, but it’s not impossible to change through repetition. As you become more conscious of actions that promote energy saving, you’ll discover even more ways to conserve.
2. Take Advantage Of The Weather
Depending on where you live, you can take advantage of the weather to heat or cool your home. Opening your curtains and blinds to let the sunlight in will help take some of the burden off your furnace. If you want to cool your house, open your windows and let the breeze fill your home. You’ll cut down on air conditioner usage and let in much-needed fresh air.
3. Turn Off Electronics
Just because you have many electronic devices doesn’t mean they always need to be plugged in all the time. If you have only occasionally used electronics, such as a Blu Ray player or toaster, only plug them in when they’re in use. What about your cell phone or tablet? Unplug them when they are done charging instead of leaving them plugged in overnight.
Electronics continue to use energy even when they aren’t in use. This is referred to as phantom energy loss. As long as appliances are plugged into an outlet, they’re using energy. Unplug devices when not in use. Another option is to purchase smart power strips, which automatically cut power to devices that aren’t being used. Or opt for standard power strips and turn off all of the plugged-in devices with one switch.
Did you know the average American household has 40 electronic devices plugged in at any given time? Look around your house to find all of your electronics that are energy vampires and start unplugging. Not only will you save energy, but you’ll also declutter your home.
4. Replace Your Light Bulbs
The average household spends 5% of its budget on lighting. One way to lower your electricity bill and save energy is by investing in new energy-efficient light bulbs. New lighting standards were put in place in 2012. Since that time, better bulbs have become more common, including LED, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and halogen incandescent bulbs.
About 90% of the energy from traditional bulbs is wasted as heat. It’s best to replace your existing bulbs with more efficient versions.
5. Install A Smart Thermostat
If you have an older thermostat, it may not be working as well as needed to heat and cool your house. One way to fix this is to invest in an Energy Star-rated smart thermostat. A smart thermostat takes programming to a whole new level. You can program several different heating and cooling schedules that automatically adjust when you leave the house or are sleeping.
Smart thermostats also give you access via Wi-Fi, meaning you can control your thermostat from almost anywhere in the world. They also feature a low-power standby mode when they aren’t active.
If you don’t want to spend money on a new thermostat, do yourself a favor and drop the temperature 7 – 10 degrees in your house for 8 hours each day. This one adjustment will save you as much as 10% on heating and cooling annually.
6. Reduce Water Heating Costs
Water heaters use the second-highest amount of energy in your house. Upgrading to an energy-efficient water heater can lead to significant savings in the long run. They also perform better and are eco-friendly.
If you don’t want to spend money on a new water heater, you can take other steps to reduce your water heating bill. You can do this easily by dropping your water heater temperature a few degrees. Another way to reduce energy spent on heating water is through the use of low-flow showerheads. Using less hot water daily will also save considerable energy in your home.
7. Dress Appropriately For The Weather
The way we dress also affects whether our house feels too cold or hot. Dressing for the season instead of adjusting your thermostat, you’ll save money. Wear layers in the fall and winter and short sleeves and shorts in the summer.
8. Have Your HVAC Checked Annually
Properly maintaining your furnace is just as important as the temperature in your home. Check your air filter monthly, especially during heavy usage. A dirty air filter slows down the airflow and makes your HVAC system work even harder. Plus, having a clean filter means less dirt and dust buildup in your system, minimizing expensive repairs and extending its life.
You should also get your HVAC equipment tuned up annually. A professional can check for underlying issues or upcoming maintenance issues. A thorough inspection and cleaning will keep your system working more efficiently, saving you money.
While you’re inspecting your equipment, see if you need to seal or insulate any air ducts. Shoring up any duct issues could save you money on your electricity bill each month.
9. Seal Up Air Leaks In Your Home
You may not realize it, but your house probably has several air leaks right now. Unwanted openings in your home let out your hot or cold air along with your money too. Buy some inexpensive caulk and patch any holes or cracks near your baseboards, windows, outlets, or doors.
Making the changes above will save on energy costs now and help your home run more efficiently to maximize savings long term. Here are three more ways to reduce energy usage that may require a more significant financial investment upfront.
10. Insulate Your Home
If you haven’t adequately insulated your home yet, now is the time to get started. Insulation keeps the heat out of your house in the summer and keeps it in during the winter.
To determine if your house is adequately insulated, have a professional check your current insulation’s R-value. R-value is the rating system for insulation’s resistance to conductive heat flow. The higher the R-value, the more effective your insulation is at doing its job. The amount in insulation you need depends on where you reside and the climate. Check out the Department of Energy’s insulation guide for an R-value map of the U.S.
11. Install Energy-Efficient Windows
Another considerable but useful expense is purchasing energy-efficient windows. Your home may lose significant amounts of heat through older single-pane windows. Americans who replace old windows with Energy Star-rated windows lower their energy bills an average of 12%.
Energy-efficient windows do more than save money. They reduce greenhouse gas emissions from your house. Windows with low-emissivity coatings cut down UV sun damage to your home’s floors, carpets, and furniture. Plus, they help keep your home’s temperature consistent by cutting down on cold drafts and overheating.
12. Replace Old Appliances
You may not realize it, but your appliances cost you more than the initial purchase price. There’s also the cost to run your appliances during its life cycle. Older appliances take more energy to operate than newer energy-efficient models. Here are some appliances you consider replacing if they are older:
- Clothes Washers
- Clothes Dryers
Energy Star-certified appliances use less energy, but perform as well if not better than what you’re using now. Many newer appliances are equipped with “smart” features that save time and energy. Take inventory of your appliances and replace them with energy-efficient versions when it makes sense.
Why Conserving Energy Is The Smart Move
Making small and big changes to your routine and your home can lead to big savings, both in energy use and in your bank account. You’ll also increase your property value and shrink your carbon footprint. Do your part to make the world a better and safer place by creating an energy-efficient home. The environment will thank you, and you’ll save money.