These days, everyone talks about the importance of having an energy-efficient home. This is often because it is vital to most people that they are not only helping the environment but saving money in the process. The good news is that there are many easy, DIY steps that you can take to become more efficient in the comfort of your own home.
Whether it is remembering to turn off the TV at night or turning to the elements with a rainwater harvesting system, there are many different ways to conserve money and energy. For instance, did you know that you could save $100 per year just by unplugging your unessential electronics at night?
Energy efficiency is even more critical if you live in an older home. As opposed to newer properties that are built to updated energy codes, old houses can also have holes and imperfections that could be seeping energy out into the environment. If you are looking to improve the efficiency of your home or you just want to save a few bucks, heed these helpful tips.
Properly Manage Your Appliances
The best way to make your home more energy efficient, help the planet, and keep your electric bill manageable is to be smart about your appliances. The most basic thing that you can do is to have your electronics turned off when you are not using them. Still, as you may have heard, even when your appliances are turned off, they still use energy, so make disconnecting them easier by plugging several of them into a power strip, so you only have to pull one plug when they are not being used.
Making sure your appliances are well maintained will also aid in their energy efficiency. If your heater, fridge, or other appliance is not running the way that it should, it can use a lot more energy than it would normally need. Performing regular maintenance on these items will ensure that your home is as efficient as possible. That being said, you should keep an eye out for product recalls. A defective product is an inefficient product. Some recalls are silent though, meaning you might not even know the product was recalled, so it’s important to keep track of what and when you purchased your appliances and do your best to be cognizant of product changes in the industry.
It may be hard for a lot of people to hear this, but a great deal of the energy that we waste is through the screens that we look at each day. We love our big televisions, but the larger the TV you have, the more energy it uses. If you must have a large television, then know that an LCD flat screen is more energy efficient than a plasma screen. For your computers, if you cannot stand to turn them off when not in use then at least put them to sleep — you could save $20 per device.
You will also want to manage the other appliances in your home that guzzle the most energy. For instance, when using the washing machine, use cold water, run fewer loads with larger amounts, and use a front-loading machine as they use two-thirds less water than most top-loaders. Your refrigerator is another energy monster that can be quelled by turning up the interior temperature to 36-38 degrees Fahrenheit, replacing the rubber seal on the door if it is tattered, and keeping the doors closed as often as possible.
Keep Your Home Sealed Up Tight
Even if you follow all of these energy-saving tips, if your house is not properly sealed and insulated, you could be wasting significant energy and expelling it out into the environment. Leakage can occur in many different spots including around mail slots, electrical outlets, the baseboards, and even the spaces between your doors and windows. To end this unnecessary leakage, spend a weekend doing a throughout inspection while plugging these holes.
Take your time insulating windows and doors as experts say that one-third of the energy loss is through spaces around these areas. Some modern-edge home renovations, such as window walls, increase the chance of energy loss if not done properly. For these projects it’s especially important to keep energy efficiency practices in mind when trying to make your home look its best. The quickest solution is to seal the perimeter of your windows with caulk. For the doors, most contractors recommend installing metal weatherstripping as it is the most efficient and longest lasting.
It may be out of sight, out of mind, but your attic is one of the biggest culprits of wasted energy. As a first step, add insulation to the ceiling, walls, and floor, paying special attention to the largest holes around the stairwells, soffits, and dropped-ceiling areas. For smaller gaps around electrical wires and seal openings, an expanding foam should do the trick.
Be Smart About Heating and Air Conditioning
To conserve even more energy, make your way down to the water heater, which experts say makes up around 18 percent of your electric bill. The key is setting the water heater just right so you get the hot water you need while reducing your HVAC energy costs. The EPA recommends setting your water heater to 120 degrees as this is hot enough to get the heat you need while keeping your energy use under control.
As a general rule, for every 10 degrees that you lower the water heater temperature, you will save 3 to 5 percent off of your energy bill. People who live alone or live in smaller homes can get away with this as they will still get the necessary amount of hot water. However, even though you want to save money, don’t set the water heater too low because a hot temperature is needed to fight off any dangerous bacteria that can grow inside of the water heater.
The next step is properly managing the settings on your air conditioner and heater so you can still be comfortable without the staggering utility bills. In the summer, set the air conditioner as high as comfortably possible with the general rule being that the smaller the difference between the indoors and outdoors temperature, the more efficient you will be. Although higher temperatures can result in warmer mornings and restless nights, there are things you can do to beat the heat and save money at the same time, such as closing your blinds and sleeping in the basement if you have one. In the winter, set the heater as low as comfortable and reduce the temperature 10 degrees when you are out of the house to save big money.
Making your home more energy efficient is all about experimenting with the appliances and utilities that you have as you find the right balance of comfort and energy savings. In the end, both your family and the environment will thank you.
Noah Rue is a journalist and a digital nomad, fascinated with the intersection between global health, personal wellness, and modern technology. When he isn't frantically updating his news feeds, Noah likes to shut off his devices, head to the beach and read detective novels from the 1930s.