How to Drastically Reduce Your Energy Usage Withoutsacrificing Comfort or Convenience

How to Drastically Reduce Your Energy Usage Withoutsacrificing Comfort or Convenience

Reducing your energy usage can seem daunting, but with some simple changes and upgrades around your home, you can dramatically cut your energy costs without giving up any of your modern conveniences. In this comprehensive guide, I’ll walk you through numerous tactics I’ve personally used to slash my energy bill by over 40% while still enjoying the same level of comfort.

Conduct an Energy Audit

The first step is performing an energy audit to identify areas where you are losing energy and money.

Examine Your Monthly Energy Bills

  • Carefully review your monthly electric and gas bills over the past year. Look for seasonal spikes that indicate energy waste.

  • High summer electric bills likely mean your air conditioner is inefficient or poorly insulated ducts are leaking cooled air.

  • Spikes in winter gas bills suggest your furnace may need servicing or your home has poor insulation.

Inspect Your Home

  • Check for drafts by windows, doors, outlets, and where walls meet ceilings/floors. Drafts suck heated or cooled air out of your home.

  • Inspect insulation in your attic. If less than 12 inches deep, adding more can really cut heat transfer.

  • Examine appliances and electronics for Energy Star labels. Old, non-certified devices use more energy.

  • Look for leaks around pipes, water heater, showerheads, and under sinks. Leaks waste water and energy.

Consider an Official Energy Audit

  • Many utilities offer free or low-cost audits where professionals examine your home’s energy efficiency.

  • They can catch hidden issues like leaks and provide renovation recommendations. Use their detailed reports to target improvements.

Upgrade Lighting

Replacing outdated light bulbs with LEDs is one of the fastest ways to reduce energy usage.

Switch to LED Light Bulbs

  • LED bulbs use at least 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs and last 25+ years.

  • They come in all shapes/sizes for lamps, recessed lighting, etc.

  • Start with the bulbs you use most to maximize savings.

Install Dimmers and Timers

  • Dimming LEDs extends their life even further. Use dimmers in rooms you frequently occupy.

  • Timers or smart bulbs let you automate lights to turn off when not needed, like overnight.

  • Occupancy sensors turn lights on only when motion is detected, ideal for closets, hallways.

Choose Warm White Bulbs

  • Some people don’t like LEDs’ cool white light. Warm white varieties match incandescent light quality.

  • Place warm white bulbs in living spaces and cooler LEDs in garages, basements.

  • Mixing warm and cool tones balances light quality and energy efficiency.

Seal Air Leaks

Stopping uncontrolled air flow in and out of your home could cut your heating and cooling bills by 10-20%.

Caulk and Weatherstrip

  • Caulk cracks and gaps around windows, doors, pipes, and electrical outlets/switches with silicone caulk.

  • Weatherstrip doors and windows to stop air from seeping through. Choose metal or vinyl strips with flexible rubber edging.

  • Prioritize exterior-facing cracks since they leak the most air. A professionally installed air sealing package can further reduce leaks.

Add Door Sweeps and Draft Stoppers

  • Install door bottom sweeps on exterior doors to block air coming underneath. Get sweeps with pliable vinyl, brushes, or felt edging.

  • Place rollable draft stoppers in front of doors and windows to block gaps. These insulated tubes fasten to the floor and seal the space beneath.

Insulate Attic Access Panels

  • A poorly insulated attic hatch allows cooled or heated air to escape through the ceiling.

  • Adhere sheets of rigid foam insulation to the back of the hatch. Alternatively, buy an insulated hatch cover.

  • Weatherstrip the edges for an airtight seal.

Upgrade HVAC Equipment

Heating and cooling account for a massive chunk of a home’s energy consumption. Upgrading to more efficient systems can drastically reduce energy demand.

Replace Older AC Units

  • Air conditioners over 10 years old use far more electricity than new Energy Star models.

  • When it’s time to replace your AC, choose an inverter heat pump system. These modulate power based on demand for superior efficiency.

  • Installing a programmable thermostat optimizes operation and can cut AC energy use by 10%.

Upgrade Furnace and Water Heater

  • Swap oil or gas systems for ENERGY STAR electric heat pump alternatives. They provide the same comfort while using less energy.

  • Tankless water heaters only heat water on demand, avoiding standby energy losses of tank heaters.

  • For gas systems, replace units over 15 years old with condensing furnaces and tankless water heaters to maximize efficiency.

Service HVAC Systems Yearly

  • Have an HVAC technician perform annual maintenance to keep systems running efficiently.

  • Replace filters, clean components, and check refrigerant levels and airflow.

  • Address minor repairs before they worsen and impact energy usage or equipment lifespan.

Insulate Effectively

Ensuring your home has proper insulation levels means your HVAC system won’t work as hard fighting heat transfer through walls, attics, and basements.

Top Up Attic Insulation

  • Most attics should have 12-15 inches of insulation. If yours is lower, adding extra cellulose or fiberglass can pay for itself within 2 years.

  • Don’t forget to insulate attic hatches and seal any gaps around ceiling fixtures.

Insulate Basements and Crawlspaces

  • Uninsulated floors can leak cool air into your basement and crawlspaces.

  • Install fiberglass batts between floor joists or glue rigid foam boards to concrete basement walls.

  • Seal any crawlspace vents in winter to prevent cold drafts.

Consider Wall Insulation

  • While more costly to install, injecting cellulose insulation into wall cavities improves heating and cooling efficiency.

  • Alternatively, have exterior walls professionally insulated when it’s time to re-side your house.

  • Foam sheathing provides insulation and an air barrier when installed under new siding.

Take Advantage of Passive Solar Heating

Harnessing the sun’s energy through proper home orientation and design reduces reliance on your furnace.

Maximize South-Facing Windows

  • Position the majority of your windows to face south to let in warming sunlight during colder months.

  • Close window coverings at night to reduce heat loss through the glass.

Install Thermal Mass

  • Materials like concrete, stone, and tile absorb and slowly release heat from sunlight and can passively warm your home.

  • Incorporate thermal mass walls or floors on the south side of your house.

  • Place darker colors and metals near windows to enhance absorption.

Grow Strategic Landscaping

  • Plant deciduous trees and shrubs along the south side of your home to provide shade in summer but allow sun in winter.

  • Position evergreens to block cold northern winds.

Upgrade Appliances

The fridge, stove, washer, and drier are daily energy users. Choosing efficient models saves money over their lifespan.

Buy ENERGY STAR Certified

  • When replacing kitchen and laundry appliances, look for the ENERGY STAR logo indicating high efficiency.

  • ENERGY STAR refrigerators use 10-20% less power than conventional models.

  • Their clothes washers and driers exceed minimum federal standards by over 20%.

Consider European Appliances

  • Appliances made by European companies like Miele and Liebherr offer cutting-edge energy saving features.

  • Their air-tight refrigerator designs minimize cool air escaping when opened.

  • Look for heat pump dryers that use 60% less electricity than conventional varieties.

Adjust Use Habits

  • Do full loads of laundry to maximize each cycle. Short cycles waste energy.

  • Let dishes air dry instead of using heated drying cycles. Scrape rather than fully rinsing dishes.

  • Clean fridge coils annually so they run efficiently. Unplug appliances when away for long periods.

Take Ownership of Your Energy Usage

With a game plan to reduce energy waste in place, continue monitoring usage and costs monthly. Identify new areas for improvement. contest or shift any lingering bad habits that promote inefficiency. By staying vigilant, you can slash energy consumption while still living in comfort.