Depending on how you approach energy efficiency at home, it can either be an enjoyable treasure hunt for sources of energy savings, or a laborious chore that you’re required to do in order to save a little money. We’re all worried about soaring energy prices and the challenge of staying within our household budgets in the coming years and months, but don’t fret.
There are some very practical, low-cost ways to make your home run more efficiently and save money every month on electricity and heating bills, while reducing your total impact on the earth. Let’s get started!
Get your home tested: Almost any home would benefit from receiving a home energy audit. Whether you do one yourself or have a professional walk through your space, it’ll help you pinpoint areas where you can improve to make your home more energy efficient. The test usually covers your home’s exterior, including foundation, roofing, windows, doors, and percentage of exposed walls, and then considers the interior systems, such home heating and cooling, appliances, water fixtures, electronics, lighting, and more. When you’re done, take the plan and start to make improvements. You may even find that federal and municipal incentives and tax rebates exist to defray the costs of any retrofits.
Add timers to appliances: You can reduce your energy consumption by ensuring appliances are only working when they’re required. For instance, installing a programmable thermostat can cut heating and cooling costs by up to 20 percent, saving close to $150 every year for some homes. You can also install a timer on your water heater to program it to heat water only when it’s most needed. Another common place for timers is for lighting. Simple timers that turn lights on and off at pre-set times every day can help to prevent you accidentally leaving lights on after you exit a room. And motion sensors can be used to automatically turn lights off in closets, garages, and backyards so that you’re not running them when no one’s around.
Dial down for savings: Many appliances can be dialled down to cut energy consumption. Turn the temperature setting down a couple of degrees on both your furnace and water heater during cold weather without losing comfort-you’ll see the difference on your energy bill. Raise the temperature on your air conditioner a degree or two, too, during hot weather. Your home may not be as chilly, but you’ll likely still live within your comfort limits. Make similar adjustments with other appliances such as your refrigerator and freezer to see additional savings.
Upgrade your lighting: If you haven’t yet, go out and get yourself some compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) to use throughout your home. Contrary to their flickery, yellow ancestors, today’s CFLs are much improved and come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. They do cost more upfront than conventional incandescent bulbs, but they generally pay for themselves in a couple of months or a year. And since they last much longer, you’ll also be changing bulbs less frequently. Just be sure to recycle them when they burn out to ensure proper containment of the tiny amount of mercury they contain. LEDs (light-emitting diode) bulbs are another great option since they’re even more efficient and longer-lasting than CFLs. And they can be used for more than your holiday decorations-think landscape lighting, task lamps, and more.
Find out more:
US EPA Do-It-Yourself Home Energy Audit
Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency