Having an energy-efficient home doesn’t mean that you have to hook up a bicycle to a generator and wear yourself out just to get the coffeemaker to do its job in the morning. There are simple things that you can do to turn your home into a planet-loving piece of property. Use the following tips to get you started.
Make Sure Your Home is Well Insulated
One of the prime ways to cut down on wasted energy is to make sure that heat stays in your home in the winter and stays out during the summer. Properly installed insulation does the trick. If the walls of your home already have insulation, don’t pay to have more blown in, but if you have an unfinished attic, it probably still needs insulation.
Be certain that whoever installs the insulation is well qualified and well reputed so you can have confidence that there won’t be any major heat-leaking voids.
Replace Windows if Necessary
Old, leaky, single-paned windows are major culprits in driving up the energy bill. Energy Star-rated windows do tend to cost more than their less efficient counterparts, but in the long run, you will save money when you go with the more efficient choice.
Not up for the bill associated with new windows all around your home? Another one of the ways to make your home more energy-efficient is to upgrade the windows you already have. Weather stripping and storm windows can do a lot to improve the efficiency of your home. Even heavy drapes can help to keep a constant temperature.
Use Protective Landscaping
Let Mother Earth help herself by planting handy shade trees and shrubs around your home. The greenery will act as a cozy little shield for your home in the summer, and in the winter, they will serve as added insulation. Focus particularly on planting the shrubs and trees on the west side of your home.
A note of caution on this tip: burglars often like to take advantage of landscaping as a hiding place when approaching a home. Consider both the risks and benefits when deciding if you want to install efficiency-boosting greenery.
Let There be Light — The Right Kind
Ditch the energy-sucking fiends known as incandescent light bulbs. The next time you run to the store in a panic because the light in the bathroom went out, don’t just grab the least expensive light bulb that you see. Compact fluorescent light bulbs cost more than regular incandescent bulbs, but only initially. Homeguides.sfgate.com says that a CFL bulb can save up to $92 and 450 kilowatt-hours of electricity over its lifespan.
LED bulbs are another awesome, energy-efficient choice for lighting up your home. In fact, if one is left on for eight hours a day, it can last over seventeen years, according to the source cited above. That’s almost enough time to raise a child!
Also see this handy chart for a comparison of different types of light bulbs.
Spruce Up the House with New Appliances
It’s not the radiant beauty of a new refrigerator that helps save on energy in the home — it’s the modern internal workings that keep your food cool and your energy bill low. An expert quoted at realestate.msn.com says, “If you look back at the top-rated refrigerator in 2001 that was Energy Star, and one you’d buy today with an Energy Star rating, there would be a 20 percent to 40 percent difference in energy efficiency.” Also consider replacing old dryers and dishwashers.
Adopt Good Habits
Turn off lights, televisions, and stereos when not in use. During daytime, use natural light from the windows if possible. Try to take shorter showers to cut down on your use of hot water. If you have a place for it, also think about line-drying your clothes.
Another of the easy ways to be energy-efficient is to use a programmable thermostat. Owners of homes in Phoenix, AZ and other hot, dry areas should especially do this, since you don’t want your air conditioner working overtime and using up precious energy when it isn’t needed.
Get Specialized Advice from the Pros
Energy auditors are specially trained to assess the energy efficiency of your home. Using nifty gadgets like infrared cameras and blower doors, they scrutinize your home from top to bottom. An energy audit may also include a detailed interview with you about your usage habits. The auditor can then identify areas that need improvement and offer suggestions on how you can minimize the amount of energy your home uses.
Rising energy costs and a struggling planet are more than enough reason to make adjustments for a more energy-efficient home. How are you and your home doing?