Do you sometimes experience sticker shock when opening your gas or electricity bill? Are you worried about the environmental impact of your home life? If so, you may be surprised by how much you can save on energy by making any of the following changes:
- Upgrade your insulation: Unless your home was specially designed for energy efficiency, it’s probably losing heat through its walls, ceiling, and tiny gaps around window and doors. Although it’s more of an investment than some items on this list, upgrading insulation is usually the single best thing you can do to reduce energy consumption.
- Mind the gaps: An insulation upgrade should minimize the spaces through which air can flow between windows and walls. But some heat loss is inevitable, and you can give your insulation a boost in cold months by using draft guards and plastic sealants in stubborn problem areas.
- Programmable/smart thermostats: If you keep your home at one uniform temperature, it’s wastefully inefficient. Programmable thermostats make it easy to remain comfortable when you’re home but avoid needless heating and cooling when you aren’t. A smart home setup can even regulate the temperature only in rooms that are currently in use.
- Use your curtains: Don’t let your thermostat do all the work. On hot days, you can help regulate in-home temperature by blocking direct sunlight with curtains and blinds. On cold days you should welcome sunlight in, but also use curtains as an extra barrier to heat loss through darkened windows.
- Install efficient appliances: There are countless Energy Star appliances on the market today, which use far less electricity, gas, and water than their older alternatives. You may find that they’re more affordable than you expect. And you may also find that your energy savings quickly outweigh the upfront cost.
- Unplug devices/use power strips: Many electrical devices, like phone chargers, continue to draw current even when not in use. You can easily stop this needless waste of energy by unplugging items when not in use. Better yet, by running multiple devices from a power strip, you can simply switch it off whenever you’re done with all of them.
- Adopt efficient water usage: There are many ways in which people over-consume water without realizing it. Simply timing your showers or turning off the water when brushing your teeth can start you on the way to big savings. You can also limit your usage of dishwashers and washing machines by always waiting for them to be full before running them.
- Consider manual alternatives: On warm and breezy days, why waste electricity by tumble-drying your clothes if you can hang them outside or near an open window? If you like the result, you might also find there are other things you can do by hand instead of using appliances.
- Watch your water heater: Most water heaters are drawing more energy, on a continual basis, than they need to be. You may be able to reduce heat loss by insulating hot water pipes, then turn down the heater to compensate. You can even turn your water heater off completely when away from home. Most take just an hour or so to heat back up.
- Replace air filters: It is generally recommended that air filters be replaced every three months. If you leave them in place too long, accumulated dust and debris can block the flow of air, thus forcing your furnace to work even harder.
It should go without saying that this is not an exhaustive list of energy-saving techniques. But if you implement just a few of these recommendations and find that it makes a difference, you just might be inspired to explore other energy-efficient lifestyle changes on your own.