You can turn off your faucet when you brush your teeth or install LED lights in all your sockets, but these changes will only produce minimal energy savings.
If you want to do more to reduce your energy consumption and your environmental impact, you’ll probably need to complete some significant renovations around your home.
Fortunately, many projects that promote energy efficiency are easy to do yourself. Here are a few projects you can consider completing for the sake of the planet!
Upgrade Your Thermostat
A thermostat might seem like an incredibly small appliance, but in fact, this controls one of the most energy-hungry systems in your home. Your thermostat is what operates your HVAC system, so if your thermostat is faulty, outdated or otherwise difficult to use, you should install a new one.
Smart thermostats are better than traditional ones at adjusting your home to the temperature you need, and can be manipulated from your mobile device(s) while you’re away. With a top-of-the-line smart thermostat, you can help your HVAC system become more energy efficient, regardless of where you are.
Though installing a new thermostat will require some tinkering with your electrical system, it isn’t too difficult to get the wires in the right place. You should follow the instructions in your thermostat’s installation guide, which will tell you how to disconnect your old thermostat and place the wires in the correct locations on your new panel.
As is always the case when you’re working with electrical wires, you must strive to be safe, and you can find a variety of electrical safety tips here.
Modify Your Windows
Before you get too excited, we should note that it isn’t a great idea to handle all-new windows by yourself. Window installation is tricky and requires certain tools to be done properly. Improperly installed windows often result in cracks and drafts, which increase energy expenditure, so if you do need new windows, it’s best to cough up the cash to hire a professional.
Fortunately, there are other ways you can increase the energy efficiency of your windows without replacing them in their entirety. Here are just a few ideas to try on your windows soon:
Caulk cracks and gaps – Over time, cracks and gaps appear around window frames due to humidity, temperature changes, pests and more. Air from the outside flows through cracks and gaps, so you should seal these up as soon as you discover them. Caulk is affordable and easy to work with, but you’ll need to get the hang of using a caulking gun, so it’s best to practice on an out-of-the-way window first.
Weatherstrip sash windows – Sash windows, also called double-hung windows, are the most popular style of window in North America; they’re the ones that open by sliding upwards. You should check the weatherstripping around your double-hung windows to see if it’s dry or cracked—and if so, replace it. Check out this resource for some helpful instructions.
Apply a low-e film – Low-emissivity films help reduce the transfer of warmth or coolness from the outside air to your home’s interior. You can find many affordable window films that work like shrink wrap: You attach each film to a window frame and use a hair dryer to ensure that the film clings to the corresponding window’s glass.
Draperies, shades and shutters – If you don’t feel up to the latter two more advanced window upgrades, you can hire a professional to complete them. However, you should feel more than competent enough to hang window coverings. These, in addition to providing privacy, can reduce the amount of hot and cold air that travels indoors via windows by as much as 25 percent.
Adapt Your Water Heater
If you use a gas water heater, it might be worth your while to invest in a tankless option, as these are faster and more efficient. For everyone else, there are tricks for keeping your water heater warmer while reducing its energy-related costs.
First of all, you can insulate your water heater’s tank by using a blanket kit (available online or in your local home improvement store). Tank blankets help keep heat inside a water heater’s tank, which reduces the amount of time the appliance has to be on and using energy in order to heat up. You can read more about water heater insulation blankets here.
No Need For a Brand-New Home
You don’t have to build a sustainable home from scratch, but by picking the right projects that’ll improve the energy efficiency of your current home, you can transform your house into a green home—and you can get most of the work done on your own, too.