Energy efficiency is in. Taking steps to make your home more energy-efficient lessens the demand for energy, which is often powered by fossil fuels such as oil and gas. Fossil fuels have a large carbon footprint, and their use contributes to global warming.
Energy-efficiency is also cost-effective. The less energy you use, the less your bill will be. For both a green planet and your wallet, energy efficiency is a good thing.
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How can you make your home more energy efficient? Here are nine ways.
Do An Energy Audit
In business, you need to know the metrics of any challenge before you start to work on it. If you don’t, you have no idea how much you’ve improved. The same is true of your home. In an energy audit, a professional comes to your home to review it and let you know where best to save on energy.
Fix Any Drafts Or Leaks
If your house has significant drafts or leaks, you may as well be sending dollar bills up the chimney. Your heating and cooling devices have to work harder to regulate the temperature in your home if cold air is coming in during the winter and if hot air is blowing in during the summer.
Check around windows, doors, patio doors and even light fixtures. And speaking of chimneys? If flues are closed, they’re a prime source of drafts. Caulk and seal any drafts or leaks you find.
Buy EnergyStar Appliances
When you buy appliances for your kitchen or need to replace the ones you have, be sure to look for the EnergyStar label. EnergyStar products are guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Energy to save energy. An EnergyStar washing machine, for example, will save 25 percent in energy costs and use 45 percent less water. Almost every appliance you can think of has an EnergyStar model: refrigerators, ovens, fans and more.
Use Energy-Efficient Lightbulbs
Don’t forget the simple lightbulb as an energy-saving device. Replacing every lightbulb in your house with maximum energy-efficiency ones can save a lot of energy. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) can save from 25 percent to 80 percent of energy use. They can also last up to 25 times longer. Want detailed information on how much you can save? A lightbulb finder smartphone app can give you a readout, show you a picture of the bulb you’re looking for and even let you order it.
Upgrade Your Heating and Cooling Systems
State-of-the-art heating and cooling systems can save up to 20 percent of energy use. Heating and cooling systems, depending on the size of your house and the climate you live in, are major users of energy. When the time comes to replace and upgrade, choose EnergyStar systems here as well.
Install Programmable Thermostats
As you’re looking for new heating and cooling systems, be sure to buy products that allow you to program your thermostats. Newer systems can be programmed from smartphones wherever you are. If you planned to be home at 5:30 and programmed the heat to turn on at 5:00, you can reprogram it from work if you’re going to be running late. Programmable thermostats can save up to 15 percent in energy costs.
Seal and Insulate Air Ducts
Air ducts can be a prime source of energy loss if they aren’t properly sealed or insulated. Leaky ducts may reduce your heating and cooling system’s efficiency by up to 20 percent. If you’re a skilled do-it-yourselfer, you can seal and insulate air ducts yourself. If not, it’s best to have a professional come out and do this job.
Place Solar Panels on the Roof
Solar panels capture the sun’s energy and convert it for home use. As a result, it can reduce your reliance on your energy company and save both fossil fuel and costs. You don’t need to live in a perpetually sunny climate to benefit, although your roof does need access to sunlight. Make sure it’s not surrounded by tall buildings or trees.
One caution: Because solar panels go on the roof and last at least 15 years, they will be most cost-effective if your roof also lasts that long. If your roof will need to be replaced in five to 10 years, wait until then.
Don’t Forget Landscaping
People thinking about energy efficiency in the home often think just of the interior. Your landscaping can help save energy costs as well. Large shade trees, for example, will make your home cooler in the summer, reducing the need for energy. Just make sure they don’t block light from the windows. Shrubs and lawns also have a cooling effect on the area around your home.
Energy efficiency reduces the carbon footprint caused by fossil fuels as well as homeowner’s costs. As these tips show, making your home more energy efficient is fairly easy and can be taken in both small steps and larger ones.