As news of climate change and environmental damage due to pollution continue to dominate the airwaves, more and more homeowners now wish to play an active part in reducing their carbon footprint in their own small ways, including through energy-efficient home living. But on top of helping protect the environment, there are other great benefits that you can enjoy when you make an effort to go green, such as lower heating and cooling bills, increased comfort and even better health.
No matter the size of your home, there are several measures that you can implement in order to lessen your use of energy while enhancing your quality of life. Below, we share ten of these effective ways.
1. Conduct an Energy Audit
An energy audit is a great way to find out if your home’s energy systems are working well together or if there are inefficiencies that are costing you more money than necessary. Professional energy audits can take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours depending on a home’s size, and some utility companies offer them for free.
2. Insulate Your Attic and Cavity Walls
The attic, crawlspace, and walls of a house are areas that can benefit a lot from insulation to reduce heat loss and heat gain. Insulating these spaces is also one of the most cost-effective and practical ways to keep your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
Use this guide from the US Department of Energy when choosing the R-value of the products that you intend to buy from insulation supply stores. Colder regions usually require higher R-value insulation while warmer zones typically require lower. Appropriate R-values will also depend on the area of your home that you need to insulate.
3. Seal Air Leaks
Sealing openings wherever air can flow through results in fewer drafts and lower utility bills. Without proper air sealing, your heating and cooling systems lose 20% of the hot or cold air that moves through your ducts. Be sure your HVAC system is properly sealed.
Use caulk and weatherstrips to effectively close gaps in and around the doors and windows, as well as any holes and cracks on your home’s building envelope. You may also seal air leaks around the plumbing assemblies and electrical wiring that comes through the floors, walls and ceilings.
4. Monitor Your Energy Consumption
One hack that works well for many homeowners is to track exactly how much energy they’re using and how much it’s costing them in real-time using an energy monitor. There’s less of a chance you’ll leave appliances running or the lights on when you have a visual reminder of the energy you are consuming. Some can even be integrated with your solar system and programmed to send warnings to your phone if an appliance is consuming more energy than normal.
5. Install a Programmable Thermostat
Technology offers many advantageous solutions that can make your home run more efficiently, such as through smart home devices. With a smart programmable thermostat, you can schedule your HVAC system to work depending on your family’s schedule. Other perks include automatic temperature adjustments, remote access, humidity controls, and HVAC system alerts.
6. Add Shades, Drapes, and Blinds
Window coverings and attachments don’t just add appeal to your home. They also regulate temperature. How much you end up saving, however, depends on several factors: climate zone, the type of covering, installation, and season. This resource from the US Department of Energy provides ample information on how different coverings can help you cut back on energy bills.
7. Embrace Natural Light
Making strategic use of natural light can save you money on both your electricity bills and on your heating and cooling. To pull off daylighting right, assess how much light you want to enter your home. Installing windows facing north can let in considerable brightness without the glare, while south-facing windows tend to let in the most light. Skylights are also a good choice and can help reduce the need for artificial lighting, therefore saving you more energy.
8. Choose Appliances for Energy Efficiency
For most people, a stove and a fridge are essential. Others would include their dishwasher and microwave on the essential list, too. Appliances we can’t (or think we can’t) do without are a big part of our energy consumption, but simply opting for Energy Star certified products can be a significant step towards lowering your energy use. You can also search for products with the EnergyGuide label, which provides other useful information such as an estimate of the yearly operating costs and power consumption.
9. Install Solar Panels
Switching to solar can be one of the best ways to save energy consumption at home. Even better, solar panels and associated assemblies are significantly cheaper now than in previous years. A large solar system that generates 4kWp can meet the energy needs of 3-5 family members. The initial cost may be hefty, but it has the potential to generate the most savings in the long run.
10. Turn Off What You Don’t Use
Take a look around your home and you’ll probably notice you have quite a few devices and appliances that are running without anyone using them. It can be a TV that’s just on standby mode, or a ceiling fan in a room with no one around. Family members should make a habit of turning off items that aren’t in use.
This change is easier said than done, but if you want to run a truly energy efficient home, everyone has to make lifestyle changes to trim down the power bill and help out the environment.
Simple Changes Can Have a Huge Impact
Understanding how your home works and making adjustments to the type of products you use—and how you use them—are the best steps you can take to make your home more economical and energy efficiency. The most important thing is that you start somewhere and get the entire family on board. After all, your family’s lifestyle also plays a huge part in your home’s energy consumption.