Winter is upon us, and as the cold slowly creeps up, so does our use of energy. It’s always a hot topic this time of year, “How can I reduce my energy bill?” While changing your light bulbs to LEDs is a step in the right direction, when you look at your home’s energy use holistically, you’ll see that you can break down the energy efficiency of your home into three categories.
- One, the energy efficiency of the parts that make up the house itself. – including windows, doors and insulation
- Two, your appliances and other systems which use energy to function. – heaters, air-conditioning, stove, laundry machines, ect.
- And three, optimizing the energy efficiency of the sources that you currently use. – solar panels, landscaping, ect.
A holistic approach to energy efficiency is one which targets all three areas. Some are one-time investments and some are daily practices, but optimizing and improving even one or two things in each category can go a long way towards lowering your footprint and reducing your monthly energy bills. Take a look at this list and see what you can do to make your home more energy efficient today. After all, who doesn’t like reducing their annual utility bills by half?
1. Seal Off Your House From Potential Drafts and Energy Leaks
In older homes, installing new replacement windows can have a number of attractive benefits, but did you know that about 38% of your home’s energy loss in the colder months is through poorly insulated windows and doors? That percentage can raise to as high as 50% if your home has single-pane windows or aluminum sliders, leaving you a huge margin for savings with this one single energy-saving action.
Old or damaged windows can lose a lot of heat, so keep your eye on your windows and check for signs of condensation, broken seals or unusual drafts in your home. All of these are indicators that it’s time to upgrade your windows. Replacing your aluminum windows can also make a huge difference in the energy efficiency of your home, since aluminum has a much higher heat transferability than other materials, such as vinyl, fiberglass or wood windows.
Increasing the insulation in your walls, ceiling and attic is one of the easiest ways to keep your home’s internal temperature isolated from the outdoors. Whether it’s freezing outside or you’d like to keep the cold trapped inside on hot days, increasing your insulation, adding new caulking and weather stripping around your doors, and making sure that your windows are properly sealed are all great ways to prevent drafts that steal precious energy.
- Replace your old windows with low-conductive, double paned windows.
- Properly insulate the walls, ceiling and attic in your home.
- Close all ducts and furnaces in unused rooms.
- Seal your furnace/AC duct work to keep air enclosed and avoid losing hot/cool air.
- Close your fireplace damper when not in use.
2. Upgrade And Run Your Appliances Efficiently
It’s safe to say that the older the appliance, the less energy efficient it’s going to be. An easy way to increase your energy efficiency is to replace your older units with new ones. Water heaters, furnaces, refrigerators, and air conditioning units are the biggest energy using appliances in the home. For the best results, replace any older units with Energy Star certified models, and do some research into your particular units to understand how they operate most efficiently.
- Replace any older units with Energy Star Certified units
- Get low flow shower heads, toilets and washing machine to reduce water waste
- Upgrade to a high efficiency water heater unit and run at a temperature between 120 – 140 degrees
- Change your air filters regularly to keep your appliances running at peak efficiency
3. Follow Good Energy Practices
Be aware that some of the top energy users in your home aren’t even appliances. iPhones, microwaves, game consoles and TV boxes all have the potential to pull more energy than a medium sized Energy Star rated refrigerator. The main issue with their consumption is that they are often always plugged in and turned on, drawing energy from the grid even when not in use. Being conscious about this, unplugging and turning off your appliances when not in use is a big way to save energy.
- Turn off your computer monitor, TV, and lights when not in use
- Unplug old refrigerators instead of using them as backups just to suck energy
- Plant trees and other landscaping items to provide your home with shade to keep your house cool
- Use a programmable thermostat to reduce unnecessary heating when you aren’t home
- Change your lightbulbs to Energy Star models and LEDs
- Unplug any appliances when gone on vacation or for long periods of time
- Add solar panels to your roof to take some of the burden of energy off of non-renewable resources
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