How to Drastically Reduce Your Home Energy Costs With Simple DIY Solutions

How to Drastically Reduce Your Home Energy Costs With Simple DIY Solutions

How to Drastically Reduce Your Home Energy Costs With Simple DIY Solutions

Perform an Energy Audit

The first step I recommend is performing an energy audit to identify areas where my home is losing energy and money. This allows me to pinpoint the biggest problem areas to target first. I can hire a professional energy auditor, but I can also conduct a simple audit myself by:

  • Examining my utility bills and looking for spikes in energy usage. This helps me understand my overall energy usage patterns.

  • Inspecting windows and doors for air leaks. I check for gaps and cracks around frames. I can test for leaks by holding a lit incense stick near edges and watching for smoke.

  • Inspecting insulation in my attic, walls, floors, etc. I look at the type (batt, loose fill, foam) and thickness. Insufficient insulation is a major source of heat loss.

  • Checking my heating and cooling equipment. I clean or replace filters and check ductwork for leaks. An HVAC tune-up improves efficiency.

  • Examining appliances and lighting for energy efficiency. I look for ENERGY STAR ratings and signs of age.

The audit helps me zero in on the specific areas I need to address first to maximize savings. I prioritize fixes that will deliver the fastest payback.

Seal Air Leaks

One of the easiest and most effective DIY solutions is sealing air leaks around my home. According to the Department of Energy, this can reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 30% annually. Here are some simple steps I take:

  • Caulk cracks and gaps around windows, doors, pipes, vents, and wires. I apply silicone or latex caulk and smooth with a wet finger.

  • Weather strip doors and windows. Self-adhesive foam tape is easy to install for a tight seal.

  • Seal penetrations into the attic, such as around chimneys and ceiling lights. I use expanding foam or caulk.

  • Install storm windows over single-pane windows. Plastic film kits are affordable and easy to install each winter.

  • Add door sweeps and thresholds to exterior doors. I attach sweeps along the bottom and thresholds on the floor.

  • Repair any gaps in siding or roof shingles. I re-nail loose sections and apply caulk or spray foam.

Properly sealing these air leaks could potentially save me hundreds of dollars per year. It makes my home more comfortable too by preventing drafts.

Increase Attic Insulation

Adding insulation in my attic is a weekend project that can substantially reduce heating and cooling costs. The Department of Energy recommends at least R-38 attic insulation for my region. Here are some tips:

  • I check the existing insulation depth and type (batt, loose fill, etc). I measure multiple areas and average the results.

  • If less than R-38, I calculate the amount of insulation needed to increase to the recommended level. Local building codes may specify minimum requirements.

  • I compare options like fiberglass batts, cellulose, and foam. Cost and R-value are key factors.

  • For DIY install, loose fill insulation is easy to apply. I rent a blowing machine to pump it through the attic access hole.

  • I wear protective gear when installing – gloves, long sleeves, eye protection, and a mask.

  • I mark any attic electrical wires and vents to keep insulation clearance. Proper coverage is key.

  • New insulation flattens existing layers, so I check depth after installation.

This single upgrade could reduce my heating and cooling bills by 10-20%. The upfront cost often pays for itself within a couple years through energy savings.

Upgrade HVAC Equipment

Replacing aging or inefficient heating and cooling equipment is one of the most impactful energy upgrades I can make. Key steps include:

  • Checking existing system efficiency ratings – SEER for air conditioners and AFUE for furnaces. Low scores signal it’s time to upgrade.

  • Getting professional HVAC quotes for replacement costs. I focus on models with high efficiency ratings.

  • Checking available rebates and tax credits which can offset 30% or more of HVAC costs.

  • Comparing install costs vs. expected energy savings. New systems can cut heating and cooling costs by 20-40%.

  • Proper sizing is crucial – an oversized system costs more upfront and wastes energy. Installers should perform calculations based on home size and features.

  • Upgrading to a programmable thermostat maximizes comfort and savings. I can adjust temperatures when away.

  • Considering a dual fuel heat pump system. This uses the heat pump for cooling and electric heat & gas furnace for optimal heating and cost savings.

The upfront investment for HVAC equipment pays dividends over the 15-20 year lifespan through dramatically lower utility costs.

Replace Old Appliances

Another easy upgrade is swapping out my old, inefficient appliances with new ENERGY STAR models. Simple steps include:

  • Checking current appliance models and ages. Generally, refrigerators over 10 years old and others over 5-7 years old are candidates for replacement.

  • Measuring usage – how often and for what duration they operate. Frequent cycling signals time to upgrade.

  • Comparing EnergyGuide labels on newer models and selecting based on kWh/year estimates. I target at least 15% less usage.

  • Shopping end of season sales for the best deals on new appliances.

  • Checking for rebates from local utility companies or state/federal programs. This can offset 25% or more of costs.

  • Recycling old appliances properly. Many utilities offer free pickup when delivering new units.

Key appliances to consider are fridge, dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer. Over their 10-15 year lifespan, upgrading these could save me thousands in energy costs.

Use Smart Power Strips

Plugging unused electronics into outlets can waste significant energy over time. One easy fix is using “smart” power strips to completely cut power when devices are not in use. I take the following steps:

  • Identify electronics that can be fully shut off when idle, like TVs, cable boxes, game consoles, and chargers.

  • Purchase advanced power strips designed to eliminate “idle load” or “phantom load”.

  • Plug main device into control outlet on strip, and dependent devices into other outlets. For example, TV into control outlet, and Blu-ray player and streaming device into other outlets.

  • The strip senses when the control device turns off and cuts power to the rest. This “master” device acts like a switch.

  • I continue normal usage, turning devices on and off as I did before. The power strip handles complete shutdowns when off.

  • Mount strips and consolidate cords to simplify usage. Labeling outlets also helps.

This habit aligns with my overall goal of reducing home energy waste. The efficiency gains can save me up to $100 per year.

Switch to LED Light Bulbs

Replacing incandescent and CFL bulbs with LEDs provides big energy savings. As an easy DIY upgrade, I take these steps:

  • Check current light bulbs in fixtures throughout my home and note wattages and lumen output.

  • Shop for ENERGY STAR certified LED equivalents that match light brightness levels. I focus on 800+ lumens for most household bulbs.

  • Calculate potential savings – LEDs use 75% less energy than incandescents. I’ll save $30+ over each bulb’s 20,000-25,000 hour lifespan.

  • Take advantage of utility company rebates and discounts – often $2-$5 per bulb replaced.

  • Start with high usage fixtures like kitchen and outdoor lighting. This maximizes savings.

  • Note lighting color temperature on packaging – lower Kelvins (2700-3000K) match traditional bulbs.

  • Purchase applicable dimmable, 3-way or globe/spotlight bulbs for certain fixtures.

The small upfront investment in LED bulbs will pay for itself many times over through significant electricity savings over the coming years.