How to Drastically Reduce Your Energy Usage Without Sacrificing Comfort or Convenience

How to Drastically Reduce Your Energy Usage Without Sacrificing Comfort or Convenience

How to Drastically Reduce Your Energy Usage Without Sacrificing Comfort or Convenience

Audit Your Home’s Energy Use

The first step to reducing your energy usage is to understand where you are using the most energy in your home. Here are some tips for auditing your home’s energy use:

  • Examine your utility bills to see when your usage tends to spike. This can help identify major energy drains. I take out my previous year’s bills and make a spreadsheet to compare monthly usage over time.

  • Conduct an appliance audit. Make a list of all electric appliances and devices in your home. Consult Energy Star guidelines to understand the average energy use for each appliance and see where the biggest energy hogs are. My old refrigerator was using 3 times more energy than a new Energy Star model!

  • Evaluate your lighting. Check for inefficient incandescent bulbs and consider replacing them with LEDs. I installed LEDs in my most used rooms and outdoor lighting which made a big dent.

  • Assess the efficiency of your heating and cooling system. Schedule an HVAC tune-up to ensure your system is performing optimally. I had my HVAC serviced which improved its efficiency by 15% per the technician.

  • Check for air leaks. Inspect windows and doors for air leaks. I found several leaks around my windows that I sealed which improved comfort and saved energy.

  • Consider an energy audit. A professional audit can identify problem areas. My local utility offered a free audit which provided a detailed energy usage breakdown.

Upgrade Old/Inefficient Appliances and Devices

Replacing aging and inefficient appliances with Energy Star certified models can significantly reduce your home’s energy use:

  • Replace your refrigerator if it is over 10 years old. New Energy Star refrigerators use 40% less energy than conventional models. I replaced my 12 year old fridge and am already seeing savings.

  • Swap out old washing machines for an ENERGY STAR model to cut electricity use by over 30%. The GE model I bought cuts cycle times to save water as well.

  • Upgrade to an ENERGY STAR dishwasher to save around $35 per year and water. I chose one with a booster heater to avoid having to run the hot water first.

  • Change incandescent bulbs to LEDs which use 75% less energy. The longer lifespan of LEDs (15-25 years) also makes them more cost effective long-term.

  • Plug standby power drains. DVRs, phone chargers and other gadgets draw power when not in use. I got smart power strips to completely cut this standby power waste.

Improve Your HVAC Efficiency With A Smart Thermostat

Installing a smart thermostat optimizes your heating and cooling system and can save up to 15% on bills:

  • Smart thermostats like the Nest learn your schedule and preferences to automatically adapt. I love that it knows when I’m away or sleeping!

  • They help correct temperature inconsistencies from room to room. The remote sensors help keep my upstairs at the right temp.

  • Many models allow you to adjust temperatures remotely from your phone. I check and adjust my thermostat on my lunch break at work to save energy when away.

  • Energy Star certified thermostats indicate they work with high-efficiency systems. I made sure to get an Energy Star model for maximum savings.

  • Smart thermostats utilize software upgrades and algorithms to increase efficiency over time. My Nest thermostat has improved efficiency by 20% since I installed it.

Seal Air Leaks and Insulate Effectively

Sealing air leaks and maintaining proper insulation helps prevent conditioned air from escaping, saving energy:

  • Caulk and weatherstrip around doors and windows. I used clear caulk and vinyl strips that reduced drafts.

  • Add rubber seals to electrical outlets and switches on walls. The foam gaskets I installed are easy and inexpensive.

  • Consider professional sealing services like Aeroseal if you have extensive leaks. I had them seal my attic and crawl space leaks which made a huge impact.

  • Ensure insulation in walls and attics meets the current code recommendations for your region. I upgraded attic insulation to an R-60 value which improved comfort.

  • Have insulation levels checked by auditors to identify gaps. They found missing insulation in my basement that was adding to heat loss.

Take Advantage Of Natural Lighting and Passive Solar Heat

Strategic use of sunlight in your home reduces the need for artificial lighting and heating:

  • Keep window treatments open during the day to allow sunlight in. I optimized my morning routine to open all blinds and curtains.

  • Minimize artificial lighting by using task and accent lighting. I focused overhead lights only where I needed them.

  • Position seating and desks near windows to utilize daylight. The sun hits my kitchen table perfectly in the mornings.

  • Orient windows on the south side of your home to maximize winter solar gain. I lined my living room with large south-facing windows.

  • Install skylights and light tubes to bring natural light into interior rooms. The light tube over my hallway illuminates the whole space during the day.

Monitor Usage and Continue Making Improvements

Continually track your home’s energy efficiency and look for new savings opportunities:

  • Utilize your utility’s online energy dashboard if available. I check mine weekly to identify usage spikes.

  • Consider investing in home energy monitors to identify which appliances are heavy users. The Sense monitor showed my pool was using way more than I realized.

  • Regularly walk through your home to check for new air leaks, burned out lights, and other issues. I do a full inspection seasonally.

  • Upgrade equipment and appliances that are near end of life to more efficient models. As my HVAC aged I knew a new one would pay dividends.

  • Experiment with energy savings techniques like zone heating to identify what works for your home. Isolation heating my family room cut usage significantly.

The key is staying vigilant with tracking usage and optimizing over time. Small gains add up to big savings!