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 and look for months or seasons where your energy usage spikes. This can help identify areas to target like heating and cooling.
- Conduct an appliance audit. Make a list of all electric appliances in your home and consider when/how often you use them. Identify energy hogs.
- Check for air leaks by noting drafts, damaged weatherstripping, etc. This is a big source of wasted energy.
- Examine your lighting and look for opportunities to switch to LED bulbs.
- Consider conducting a professional home energy audit. They can perform more thorough tests and identify improvements.
Completing a home energy audit helps you understand your unique energy use patterns and identify the best opportunities for reduction.
Upgrade Insulation and Weatherization
Improving your home’s insulation and weatherization can have a big impact on energy use for heating and cooling. Here are some DIY upgrades to consider:
- Add insulation to the attic. This is often the easiest place to add more insulation inexpensively.
- Check exterior walls for gaps and cracks and seal with caulk and weatherstripping. Pay close attention around windows and doors.
- Consider adding insulation to exterior walls. This may require removing siding.
- Install storm windows over single pane windows. This creates an extra barrier to slow heat/cooling loss.
- Ensure attic access is properly sealed and insulated. These are often big sources of leakage.
Increasing insulation helps moderate indoor temperatures at less energy expense. Proper weatherization keeps heated and cooled air where you want it.
Swap Old Appliances for Energy Efficient Models
Replacing aging major appliances with energy efficient models can make a significant dent in your home’s energy demands:
- Refrigerator: An ENERGY STAR certified refrigerator uses at least 15% less energy than non-certified models. Choose a right-sized fridge for your needs.
- Dishwasher: Look for ENERGY STAR models that use less water while still delivering quality wash performance. Avoid heating dry cycles.
- Washer/dryer: When it’s time to replace, look for ENERGY STAR models. Front-loading washers are typically more efficient.
- Water heater: Consider tankless water heaters which heat water on demand versus storing heated water around the clock.
Take advantage of utility rebates when available. The upfront cost is usually recouped over time through energy savings. Properly maintaining appliances also keeps them operating efficiently.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
One simple upgrade that can make a big difference is installing a programmable thermostat. This allows you to regulate home temperatures hour-by-hour:
- Set lower temperatures when away at work and higher temps for evenings and mornings at home.
- Program even lower temperatures overnight when heating/cooling is less critical.
- Many programmable thermostats enable remote access via a smartphone to adjust temperatures on the go.
- Smart thermostats learn usage patterns over time and self-adjust to save energy.
Programmable thermostats add convenience while allowing major cuts in heating and cooling expenses. Nest estimates 12%+ savings for typical households.
Change Lighting to Efficient LED Bulbs
Transitioning your home’s lighting to LED bulbs can pare energy usage substantially. Here’s how to do it efficiently:
- Start by replacing bulbs in fixtures used most. The savings will be seen sooner.
- Check for utility rebates on ENERGY STAR rated LED bulbs to offset higher upfront costs.
- Use LEDs in hard-to-reach fixtures that are on for many hours per day. Less frequent bulb changes needed.
- Use dimmable LEDs with dimmer switches in key areas like dining and living rooms. Adjust lighting based on activity.
- Outdoor lighting, like porch and garage lights, are also good LED upgrade targets to maximize hours of usage.
LEDs last years longer than incandescent bulbs and use at least 75% less energy, cutting lighting electricity usage dramatically.
Alter Usage Habits for Energy Intensive Activities
Making changes in daily energy use habits can have a meaningful impact on reducing energy demands. Some suggestions:
- Run dishwashers and clothing washers only when fully loaded. Avoid half-loads.
- Enable power saving modes on computers and monitors. Set them to sleep when not in use.
- Turn off lighting and electronics when not in use. Use smart power strips as a convenience.
- Moderate thermostat temperatures based on the time of day and your needs. Don’t overcool/overheat.
- Open blinds on sunny winter days to utilize free solar heating. Close them on summer days to reduce cooling demands.
- Limit use of portable space heaters which use lots of energy. Instead, close off unused rooms and wear warmer clothing.
Developing mindfulness around your activities requiring significant electricity and adjusting habits accordingly can result in tangible energy reductions.