15 ways to conserve energy in your home
There are two simple reasons why saving energy in our homes is more important than ever: rising energy prices and the threat of climate change. We’re going to tell you how you can do it, from small changes that can add up to complete overhauls that will save you a lot of money (and the environment will owe you a ‘Thank You’ card).
Instead of regurgitating what you’ve read elsewhere, these recommendations have been split into three manageable levels (Easy, Medium Hard). This should help you to find something that’s within your situation and budget; if you’re renting and can’t change much, our Level 1 tips will still help you save money. For those of you who own your home and have the capital to invest for long-term savings, head to Level 3.
Level 1 (Easy/Cheap)
Lower the dial
This fix is quick and straightforward. During those cold winter months, it may be tempting to put your central heating system to work. But it’s not always necessary to max out your temperature gauge. Lowering the temperature to under 70 can save an additional 3% off your bill. Bonus tip: decrease the heat to just under 60 at night. You’ll sleep more comfortably, and it’s cheaper!
Work the drapes
This is a quick fix that needs a little bit of discipline. Open the curtains to let in the sunshine during the day, close at night to keep that heat in. Presto!
It’s surprising how many people complain of the cold in their homes while walking around in shorts and a t-shirt. Dress accordingly. We’re not talking winter jackets indoors, but use insulating materials and remember to layer for maximum effect.
Isolate your HVAC
Other appliances should not surround your unit. If possible, move televisions, lamps, computers, and any other heat sources to a reasonable distance away from your HVAC. This increases its efficiency.
Replace furnace filters
Don’t let your furnace work harder than it needs to. Either clean or replace the filters every three months.
Wait till its full
Your dishwasher and washing machine use a lot of energy. Ensure you maximize their efficiency by only running them when they’re full.
Level 2 (Medium/Requires Investment)
You can slash 10% off your heating costs by merely eliminating air leakage. This is most common in duct work and windows. For duct joints, all you need is duct tape. For windows, winterize movable parts with weather stripping and use calk for non-moving parts.
Go for low-flow
Sure, Kramer doesn’t like low-flow showerheads. But he never paid any bills. To avoid wasting water when you shower, we recommend opting for a showerhead that features a flow rate under 2.5 GPM. You may also want to take shorter showers; reducing your daily clean by 4 minutes a day will save 3650 gallons annually. Not bad.
Look for the star
Energy Star-qualified bulbs (of the CFL and LED variety) are far more efficient than the traditional incandescent bulb. Expect to use 20-25% less energy.
You may benefit from giving the exterior of your home a facelift. Your garage door is a comfortable place to start. For example, brighter colors are better for hot climates, while colder regions benefit from darker shades. White roofs can also keep your home cooler by around 30%.
Level 3 (Hard/Expensive)
Weather the storm
The installation of storm windows and doors requires a bit of investment and DIY skills, but it’s worth it: for some homes, it can lead to a reduction of heat loss by around 20%.
Planting evergreen trees on the north side of your house will block those chilly winter winds. Windbreakers such as the Chinese juniper can reduce 35mph winds right down to 10mph. They also look good and are a plus for the environment!
Insulation is vital both in summer and winter. The key areas where padding can make a real difference are your walls, attic, floors, crawlspace, and basement. If you want to get a green badge, go for natural sheep wool where possible.
Many of us think that sticking to older devices is environmentally friendly, as it means not buying unnecessary new things. However, sometimes ditching the old can be the best option for Mother Earth and your wallet. Responsible for 13% of your home’s energy use, replacing appliances with newer Energy Star equivalents can lead to a healthy reduction in your monthly bills (9-25%).
Smartening up your home is not just for the fancy techies of this world. Using smart thermostats can shave $180 off your annual bill. Much more convenient than the standard programmable varieties, smart thermostats can integrate with services such as Google Home and Alexa and have advanced learning mechanisms (adapting to your way of life).