Big or Small – 10 Ways to Make your Home More Energy Efficient

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Big or Small – 10 Ways to Make your Home More Energy Efficient

With the onset of warmer weather and longer days, you may be finding that you are using a lot less electricity to fuel your lights.  This means a big savings all summer long your electric bill.

If these energy and cost savings appeal to you then why not implement other change throughout your home to make a difference in your energy consumption and home operating costs, all year long.

Big Changes

Improving the energy efficiency of your home can be a costly investment.  Here are a few of the “big ticket” items that may cost a bit more, but may provide the maximum return on your investment.

1. Install Solar Energy

Solar energy is a big investment, but one that can pay dividends over the long term.  To help offset expenses, research tax credits from your local and federal goverment.  You may also be able to take advantage of special financing progaerms. Access this Consumer’s Guide from the US Department of Energy Efficiency for more information.

2. Install Energy Star Appliances

If you are in the market for new appliances, you should consider those branded with the Energy Star rating.

Energy Star appliances are designed to curb energy use while also reducing operating costs year over year.

3. Insulate & Seal

From the attic to the seals around your doors and windows, little bits of cold air could be getting into your home all winter long – and increasing your energy consumption in the process.

Invest in insulation for your attic, and spend the time to seal the doors and windows of your home, especially if they are older, or original to the home.  You can also seal the ducts for your air conditioning and heating systems.

4. Replace the Windows & Doors

If you feel like you are standing next to a wind tunnel every time you walk by your windows it may be time for an upgrade.

Installing new windows and doors can save you money on heating and cooling costs, so you’ll benefit from this investment all year long.  Be sure to invest in solid doors, versus hollow doors for maximum benefit, and consider all the variables of your window replacement before you make a final purchase.  From the window style, construction to the sash and frame, there are many variables to consider to get the best aesthetics, function and value. If you don’t need or want to replace your windows, you can also consider storm windows.

See more from HGTV here.

5. Invest in your Landscape

A nice landscape not only looks nice, but it can benefit your energy costs and consumption too!

If you have the room, plant trees on the sides of your home that get the most sunlight.  This will block out the hot sun during the summer months to provide some shade and cool off your home.   Conversely, when winter is upon you the branches will be bare allowing more the heat from the sun to get to the home.

Small Changes

There are small changes you can make in your home to make it more energy efficient. The 5 ideas we list below should cost little to no money at all!

1. Rethink Your Lighting

In the summer, it is easy to reduce your lighting needs thanks to long, sunny days. But that doesn’t last forever.

The US Department of Energy recommends replacing just 5 of your most frequently used lights with fluorescent bulbs or Energy Star LED lights to get a longer life span, lower costs, and energy savings.  Also, look for ways to maximize the natural lighting in your home.  Solar screens are a great way to keep out the sun, but still allow you to enjoy the natural light – and the view.

2. Invest in Power Strips

Homes today consume an abundance of energy just to power electronic devices.

No longer is it just the television and VCR.  We are charging mobile telephones and tablets, big screen televisions, appliances, and more.  Investing in something simple like a power strip for all of these gadgets allows you to turn these devises on and off when you need to, rather than keep them plugged in all day long.

3. Adjust your AC and Hot Water Heating Settings

There are small changes you can make to the various comforts of life to still enjoy them, but reduce your energy use and costs.

Consider turning your air conditioner settings up just 1 degree, it can save 7-10 percent on your overall costs!  Also make sure your hot water unit is set at 120 degrees or lower, and if it is an older model, invest in insulation jacket for the tank.

4. Start a Collection

Your home, and the environment around it, produce a lot of excess and waste.

Rather than allowing it to end up in a landfill, create a collection method to reuse it.  For example, pick up a compost bucket for your kitchen counter, and start a compost pile or large compost bin. You can also develop a rain water collection system to store excess rainwater to water plants, flowers, trees and shrubs both inside and out.   If you live in a particularly high risk drought area, use drought tolerant shrubs, perrenials, plants, and other foliage that requires litte to no water.

5. Install a Programmable Thermostat

Upgrading your existing thermostat to a new programmable thermostat is a great way to save money and energy.

And, as long as you aren’t going too high tech it may be something you can do yourself (or a relevant handyman).  Here are some tips from This Old House.  If you are want to something more advanced, you may need to recruit the services of a certified HVAC technician.

US Department of Energy
US News
Green Home Guide
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