Fall is upon us and in the months generally known for colder weather, keeping our homes warm is a top priority. Even in those geographic regions where the mercury doesn't drop below 50, knowing your home is not losing energy is a relief when you spend your hard earned dollars keeping your home warm or cool.
Saving energy in your home is not a difficult process. There are many easy free and low-cost ways to save energy and money on your heating and cooling bills. Listed below are some steps you can take in your home to help conserve energy and save yourself some money in the process:
Install A Programmable Thermostat:
Heating and cooling your home uses more energy and costs you more money than any other area or system in your home. Heating and cooling makes up almost half of your utility bill, so knowing how to eliminate energy waste when it comes to heating and cooling will save you money each month. By installing a programmable thermostat you help to automatically adjust your home's temperature to when you've programmed, which helps it stay warm (or cool) when you need it to be.
Seal Air Leaks:
A home is rarely air tight, and checking for air leaks is a great way of determining where warm or cool air could be escaping and adding money on to your energy bill. There are a number of areas where air escapes: windows, doors, electrical boxes, ceiling fixtures, attics and more. You can help reduce or eliminate leaks by caulking and/or weather-stripping doors and windows, installing foam gaskets behind outlets and switch plates, or using foam sealant on larger gaps around windows and baseboards. Taking the time to find air leaks and fix them will help save you money and keep your home warm or cool.
Heating and cooling make up the majority of your energy bill, over 50 percent, so knowing your home is insulated properly can help keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Checking the insulation in your home's attic, walls, floors, and ceilings will tell you how much air is flowing between the inside and outside of your home and help you determine the best way of controlling the temperature inside. One important place to look for insulation is your attic – a well-insulated attic can help slash your heating and cooling bills in both the winter and summer months by helping to maintain indoor temperatures and seal air leaks through your roof.
Install Efficient Windows:
Window glass is not known for being very thick, and single-pane windows are notorious energy loss culprits. One option is to replace current windows with storm windows. Storm windows "reduce temperature loss by sealing leaks and creating a dead airspace between window panes" (motherearthnews.com). Storm windows can be expensive, but their return on investment is about 10 years, which is relatively short. Another option, if installing new windows is not feasible, is to cover windows with transparent material to help improve insulation. This site has great techniques on conserving energy in your home by implementing winter window treatments.
Using less water benefits you, your water bill and the environment. When you use less water, you also use less energy needed to heat the water. The Department of Energy lists water heating as the third most energy consuming function in a home. To help conserve water, you can take shorter showers and be conscious of the water used when washing dishes, food and clothes. When running the dishwasher or the washing machine, make sure the machine is filled to capacity to save water and energy on extra washes. You can also save energy by lowering the temperature on your hot water heater. The Department of Energy says 120 degrees is sufficient for most household uses. You can also save water and money by installing water-efficient fixtures and appliances throughout your home.
Turn Off Electronic Devices:
Do you leave your coffee maker plugged in when not using it? According to the US Department of Energy, "In an average home, 75 perfect of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off." This is called a "phantom load," or the energy appliances or electronics use when not turned on. You can minimize phantom loads and save on your energy bill by unplugging appliances and electronics when not in use, or plugging them into a power strip and turning the strip off when not using the appliances or electronics
Change Out Light Bulbs:
One cost-effective technique for saving energy and money is replacing the traditional incandescent light bulbs in your home. There are a number of options available that will help you save energy, and some offer longer life and greater savings than others. From halogen incandescent bulbs, to compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), to light-emitting diodes (LEDs), each bulb has its benefits. Halogen incandescent bulbs are energy-efficient incandescent bulbs and can last up to three times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. CFLs last up to 10 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs and are extremely affordable. LEDs are becoming more and more popular and their prices have significantly dropped in recent years. LEDs use 20%-25% of the energy traditional incandescent bulbs use, and LEDS can last up to 25 times longer, some even being touted to last up to 25 years.
You also have the option of performing a home energy audit. An energy audit, also known as a home energy assessment, assesses how much energy your home consumes and helps you evaluate the best measures you can take to make your home more energy efficient. There are a number of options for home energy audits, from Do-It-Yourself audits, to professional audits that include blower door tests, thermographic inspections and PFT air infiltration measurements. Find an option that best suits your needs, wants and wallet and discover how you can make your home more energy efficient and save yourself some money.
If you'd like more tips on saving money and conserving energy throughout your home, here are some helpful links for more information: