How to Drastically Reduce Your Energy Usage Through Simple Lifestyle Changes
Audit Your Home’s Energy Use
The first step to reducing your home’s energy usage is to audit your current energy use. Here’s how to do it:
- Examine your monthly electricity and gas bills. Look for seasons or months when your energy use spikes. This can help identify areas to target.
- Walk through your home room by room, and identify potential wasted energy use. Check for things like lights left on, leaky windows, old appliances, etc.
- Consider conducting a professional home energy audit. The auditor will do blower door tests to check for air leaks, examine insulation levels, and make tailored recommendations for your home.
Auditing your home’s energy use will identify problem areas to target and help benchmark your starting energy usage.
Upgrade Home Appliances and Devices
Replacing outdated or inefficient home appliances and devices with ** ENERGY STAR certified appliances** can significantly reduce your home’s energy use. Here are some key upgrades to consider:
- Replace your refrigerator, washer, dryer, and dishwasher with ENERGY STAR models. Choose units that are properly sized for your household.
- Swap out any remaining incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs. They use at least 75% less energy.
- If you have an electric water heater, insulate it and set the temperature no higher than 120°F. Or install a new ENERGY STAR heat pump model.
- Unplug devices when not in use to stop phantom load energy drainage. Consider getting an advanced power strip.
- Upgrade to a programmable thermostat to better control heating and cooling.
Prioritize replacing appliances over 10 years old first. Properly disposing of old appliances also keeps harmful materials out of landfills.
Improve Home Insulation and Sealing
Adding insulation and sealing air leaks are two of the most effective ways to boost your home’s energy efficiency. Here are some DIY projects to consider:
- Inspect exterior walls and attics for proper insulation levels. Add insulation if needed – the DOE recommends R-38 for attics in most climates.
- Caulk and weatherstrip windows and doors. Add window film or replace with new double pane windows.
- Seal air leaks throughout the home with caulk, spray foam, weather stripping, etc. Common problem areas include ducts, pipes, foundations.
- If renovating, choose energy efficient building materials like structurally insulated panels (SIPs).
Proper insulation slows heat transfer and air leaks. This reduces energy waste from heating and cooling, and improves comfort.
Modify Thermostat Use and Temperature
Optimizing your home thermostat usage can lead to significant energy savings. Here are some thermostat tips:
- Program your thermostat to lower temperatures when asleep or away from home. Start at 68°F when you’re home, then set back to around 60°F.
- Install a smart thermostat that automatically optimizes heating and cooling for comfort and efficiency.
- Keep thermostat fan settings on “auto”, and only run the fan if needed for central AC.
- Set manual thermostats to 68°F for heating and 78°F for cooling. Adjust a few degrees from there for comfort.
- Run a whole house fan to circulate cool nighttime air. This allows raising the thermostat setpoint in warm weather.
Adjusting thermostat habits requires minimal effort while reducing HVAC energy use, sometimes dramatically.
Change Laundry and Dishwashing Habits
Simple changes to your laundry and dishwashing habits can reduce associated energy and water use.
- Wash full loads whenever possible in your dishwasher and washing machine.
- If you have to wash partial loads, adjust the water level accordingly.
- Use cold water for clothes washing whenever practical. Skip the extra hot water.
- Hang-dry clothes on a clothesline or drying rack to skip the electric dryer.
- Scrape food scraps off dishes instead of fully pre-rinsing dishes before washing.
- Skip the energy-intensive dry cycle and air dry dishes instead.
Developing some good energy-saving laundry and dishwashing habits will reduce electricity, gas, and water consumption.
Change Lighting Habits
Lighting accounts for roughly 12% of home energy bills. Here are some easy ways to reduce lighting energy use:
- Take advantage of daylight and only turn lights on at night when needed.
- Install dimmers, sensors, and timers to ensure lights are only on when needed.
- Replace outdoor lighting with solar-powered fixtures.
- Use task lighting so you can turn off overhead lights.
- Paint walls light colors to reflect more natural light.
- Switch outdoor post lights to LED and put them on timers.
Developing some simple energy-saving lighting habits can pare lighting energy use by 10-40%, adding up to big savings over time.
The everyday habits of your household have a major impact on your home’s energy demand. Following these tips can lead to 20-30% lower energy bills each month:
- Audit and upgrade appliances
- Improve insulation and sealing
- Adjust thermostat habits
- Modify laundry, dishwashing, and lighting habits
Changing habitual energy use requires some initial effort, but soon becomes second nature. A few easy lifestyle changes make a big difference!