Improving your home’s energy efficiency not only helps the environment, it also saves you money on utility bills. With energy costs continuing to rise, homeowners are looking for smart ways to reduce their energy usage and make their homes more efficient.
10 Energy-Efficient Tips to Lower Electricity Cost
This article will provide tips to increase energy efficiency throughout your home.
Choose Energy Efficient Appliances
When replacing old appliances, look for ENERGY STAR rated models which meet strict energy efficiency guidelines from the EPA. Investing in an energy efficient refrigerator, washer, dryer, dishwasher, air conditioner, and furnace can make a significant impact on your energy bills. Also check the yellow EnergyGuide label for the appliance’s estimated yearly operating cost.
Seal Air Leaks
Sealing air leaks is one of the quickest and most cost effective ways to boost your home’s energy efficiency. Use caulk and weatherstripping to seal cracks and openings throughout the house, especially around windows, doors, wiring, and plumbing. An energy audit can pinpoint the biggest trouble spots. Sealing air leaks could improve your home’s insulation by up to 30 percent.
Make sure your home is adequately insulated. The Department of Energy recommends these standard insulation levels: R-38 for attics, R-15 for exterior walls, and R-11 for crawl spaces. Adding insulation creates a barrier between the inside and outside of your home to keep hot and cold air in the right places. An insufficiently insulated home could be costing you hundreds per year.
Strategically Use Smart Thermostats
Install programmable or learning smart thermostats to customize heating and cooling times based on your schedule. Smart thermostats learn your habits and automatically adjust to maximize comfort and efficiency. Many utility companies offer rebates on ENERGY STAR models. Turning your thermostat back 7-10 degrees for 8 hours a day can save 5-15 percent on heating and cooling costs.
Take Advantage of Natural Lighting
Use energy efficient windows to maximize natural daylight and add window treatments to reduce heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer. Decorating with light, reflective colors also helps reflect daylight throughout the home. Properly placed windows, skylights, and sunrooms can brighten your home and reduce the need for artificial lighting during the day.
Switch to Efficient Lighting
Replace outdated incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs to realize a 75 percent reduction in lighting costs. LED bulbs last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs and use at least 75 percent less energy. Also use fixtures with electronic ballasts and pair lights with occupancy sensors, timers, and daylight harvesting technology.
Weatherize Windows and Doors
Make sure windows and doors have proper weatherstripping, sweeps, and storm windows. Double pane windows with low-E coating help insulate your home. You can also install window film or solar screens to reduce heat gain in the summer. Improving the insulation of windows and doors can reduce energy loss by 10-20 percent.
Upgrade Home Heating and Cooling Systems
If your HVAC system is more than 10 years old, upgrading to an ENERGY STAR heat pump or furnace can cut your heating and cooling costs by 20 percent or more. When it’s time to replace your central air conditioning unit, look for a high efficiency, variable speed model. An ENERGY STAR air conditioner uses about 20 percent less energy than a conventional model.
Leaking ductwork can lead to higher utility bills by allowing heated or cooled air to escape before reaching your living spaces. Have a professional seal ducts using duct sealant or mastic and insulate all exposed ductwork. Properly sealing ductwork saves about 20 percent on heating and cooling costs.
Implement Water Conservation Measures
Installing low-flow faucets, showerheads, and toilets reduces hot water usage. Repair any leaky faucets or pipes. Run full loads in the dishwasher and washing machine. Water heating accounts for 18 percent of a home’s energy use. Conserving water lowers your water heating costs.
With some smart upgrades and proper maintenance, you can realize significant savings by boosting your home’s energy performance. Be sure to take advantage of rebates and tax credits available for energy efficiency improvements. Investing in an energy efficient home pays dividends now and helps protect the environment.