Many homeowners don’t save energy the way that they should. If you’re tired of counting yourself among that number, here are just a few ways to increase your home’s energy efficiency and save your family a few dollars to boot.
1. Unplug Your Electronics
If they’re plugged in, your devices are using electricity. It doesn’t matter if they’re powered off. The phenomenon is called “phantom loads” or “vampire energy” because it sucks up power without your knowledge, and according to studies conducted by energy experts, you might be spending upwards of $100 per year on power that you aren’t even using. Before you go to bed, unplug anything that doesn’t need to be powered or charged through the night.
2. Make Small Changes Around the Home
If you’re still using halogen bulbs, make the switch to compact florescent lights (CFLs) to use 75 percent less energy. If you’re wasting heat at home during long days at the office, buy a programmable thermostat that will adjust itself depending on your schedule. Use fans in the summertime and heavy curtains in the wintertime to regulate your home’s temperature without the need for HVAC units. These are all little changes, but they can really add up in energy savings.
3. Buy Energy-Saving Appliances
The next time you need a refrigerator or washing machine, look for the Energy Star label. Not only will they consume up to 50 percent less energy, but depending on the type of appliance they are, they might also reduce water waste, carbon emissions or something else that traditional appliances take for granted. When you buy an Energy Star machine, you’ll be helping the environment in more ways than one.
4. Harness Solar Energy
While solar panels do require an initial investment for purchase, delivery and installation, they’ll pay for themselves within a short amount of time. Even more importantly, you’ll see immediate savings on your energy bill once you cut back the need for traditional power. You don’t have to deck your entire house in solar-harnessing equipment; a few photovoltaic panels on the roof will do.
5. Seal the Cracks
If you’ve ever felt a draft where a draft shouldn’t be, your wall or window probably has a crack somewhere. The good news is that it’s extremely easy to follow the draft to the source and seal it up with something like caulk or vinyl weather stripping. Most homeowners just don’t do it because they think the chill isn’t a big deal. When you consider the energy savings, however, and the way your heater will no longer have to overcompensate, it’s worth the trouble of sealing your gaps.
6. Do Some Landscaping
There are a number of changes you can make to your home’s exterior that will improve its overall energy efficiency. For example, if you paint your roof white, you’ll deflect more of the sun’s rays and decrease your need for the air conditioner. If you plant trees and shrubs around your walls, you’ll block some of the cold trying to seep through your bricks. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your landscaping to make an improvement to your energy bill.
7. Conserve Your Water
You may be wondering what water has to do with your energy bill, but according to the U.S. Department of Energy, water is the third-highest source of energy consumption in the modern home. This is because your water has to be warmed before it can come out piping hot for your showers and washing machines. When you take shorter showers and do bigger loads of laundry, your water and energy bills will both see a reduction.
These are just a few ways to make your home and yard more energy efficient. There are many more, of course, but these should be enough to get you started on a journey of eco-friendliness.