Reducing your energy usage can seem daunting, but with some simple changes, you can drastically cut your energy consumption without giving up any of the comforts and conveniences you’ve grown accustomed to. The key is knowing where to focus your efforts for maximum impact.
Upgrade Appliances and Electronics
One of the most effective ways to reduce your home’s energy consumption is by upgrading to more efficient appliances and electronics.
Replace Old Refrigerators and Freezers
Your refrigerator and freezer account for a significant chunk of your home’s energy use. Replacing an aging model with a new ENERGY STAR® certified appliance can reduce energy consumption by 30% or more. Look for models with superior insulation and compressors.
Swap Out Incandescent Bulbs
Switching your lighting over to LED bulbs can cut lighting costs by 75%. LEDs use a fraction of the energy and last years longer than incandescent bulbs. The light quality has also improved dramatically in recent years.
Upgrade Washer and Dryer
If your washing machine or dryer is more than 10 years old, the energy savings from a new efficient model can be substantial, saving over $135 per year on utility bills. Look for models with moisture sensors and variable speed motors.
Unplug Devices When Not in Use
Many electronics and appliances continue to draw power even when switched off. Simply unplugging them when not in use can save significant amounts of energy.
Enable Power Management Settings
Enabling power management settings on computers and monitors adjusts power usage when idle. This can reduce a device’s energy consumption by 65% or more.
Improve Insulation and Sealing
Preventing heat or cooled air from escaping your home provides major energy savings.
Increasing insulation, especially in the attic, can greatly improve energy efficiency. An R-value of R-38 is ideal for attic spaces in most climates. Proper insulation levels reduce heat transfer, saving on both heating and cooling costs.
Caulk and Weatherstrip
Sealing gaps around windows, doors, pipes, and wiring penetrations stops drafts and leakage. Applying weatherstripping to doors and windows helps them seal tightly when closed. The small cost of caulking and weatherstripping provides big energy savings.
Install Plastic Film Window Kits
Window insulation film creates an additional layer of insulation for windows. These inexpensive plastic film kits are simple to install and significantly reduce heat loss through windows.
Modify Thermostat Use
Adjusting your heating and cooling settings is an easy way to use less energy.
Lower Thermostat Temperatures
Turning down your thermostat 7-10° F from your normal heating temperature settings can lower your heating costs by up to 10%. Wearing extra layers allows you to remain comfortable.
Use Programmable Thermostats
Installing a programmable thermostat allows you to customize temperature settings for different times of day. You can reduce heating costs by lowering temperatures at night or when away.
Adjust Cooling Temperatures
Set your cooling thermostat as high as comfortably possible. Recommended summer settings are 78° F when you’re home and higher when away. Ceiling fans allow you to feel cooler at higher temperatures.
Utilize Fan Settings
Running ceiling fans on low in clockwise direction pushes warm air down in winter. Adjusting fan direction pushes cool air in summer. Fans allow you to turn down your heating or cooling settings.
Take Advantage of Natural Heating and Cooling
Controlling sunlight, ventilation, and landscaping helps heat and cool your home for free.
Manage Window Sunlight
Opening blinds and drapes during winter lets warming sunlight in. Closing them in summer keeps heat out. Strategic landscaping provides shade in summer and allows sunlight in winter.
Ventilate and Circulate Air
Careful ventilation and air circulation reduces the need for cooling and heating. Open windows when outdoor and indoor temperatures match. Run ceiling fans on low to circulate air.
Landscape for Shade and Airflow
Planting trees and shrubs to shade your home reduces summer cooling costs. Pruning landscaping opens airflow to your home in winter, allowing sunlight to warm your home naturally.
Upgrade Water Heating Efficiency
Heating water accounts for a major part of a home’s energy costs. Improving efficiency provides significant savings.
Insulate Water Heater Tank
Installing an insulation jacket around your water heater reduces standby heat losses through the tank. This can lower water heating costs by 7-16%.
Install Heat Traps
Heat traps prevent heated water from being cooled as it moves to and from your water heater’s tank. Adding them to inlet and outlet pipes reduces wasted energy.
Set Water Temperature Lower
Water heaters are often set higher than necessary. Lowering the temperature to 120°F provides comfortable hot water for most uses while reducing energy consumption.
Use Timer and On-Demand Settings
Timing when your water heater runs or using on-demand settings reduces energy wasted on maintaining constant hot water when you don’t need it.
By implementing these suggestions, you can dramatically decrease your home’s energy consumption without sacrificing the conveniences you depend on. A little planning goes a long way to using energy responsibly while maintaining your lifestyle.