How to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient on a Low Budget

How to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient on a Low Budget

How to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient on a Low Budget

Making your home more energy efficient can help save money on utility bills and reduce your carbon footprint. With some simple changes and upgrades, you can increase the efficiency of your home without breaking the bank. Here are some tips for boosting energy efficiency in your home on a budget:

Audit Your Home’s Energy Use

The first step is to understand where and how your home is using energy. Here are some things you can do:

  • Examine your utility bills and look for trends. Are certain months higher than others? This can help identify problem areas.

  • Conduct an energy audit. Many utilities offer free home energy audits to locate air leaks and areas for efficiency upgrades. You can also do one yourself.

  • Use an energy monitor like Sense or Eyedro to track energy use of appliances and devices. This identifies energy hogs you can replace.

  • Check insulation levels in walls, attics, basements. Add insulation where needed.

  • Inspect windows and doors for air leaks. Feel for drafty areas and seal them.

Once you understand your home’s energy use, you can target problem areas.

Upgrade Lighting

Replacing old incandescent bulbs with LED lighting can reduce lighting costs by 75%. LED bulbs last years longer too. Here are some tips:

  • Switch out indoor and outdoor lighting with ENERGY STAR certified LED bulbs.

  • Use LED bulbs in high-use fixtures like kitchens, porch lights.

  • Install LED night lights, pathway lighting, and under-cabinet lighting.

  • Consider smart lighting like Philips Hue that allows voice and app control.

Improve Heating and Cooling Efficiency

Heating and cooling accounts for over 50% of a home’s energy costs on average. Some DIY upgrades to boost efficiency:

  • Clean or replace filters monthly in HVAC systems. Dirty filters make systems work harder.

  • Seal air ducts with mastic paste or metal tape to prevent leaks.

  • Insulate ductwork running through unheated spaces like attics and garages.

  • Install a smart thermostat like Nest that optimizes heating and cooling.

  • Open blinds on sunny days to allow in warmth. Close them at night for insulation.

  • Ensure attic areas are properly insulated and ventilated.

Weatherize Windows and Doors

Lots of energy is lost through drafty windows and doors. Some budget weatherizing tips:

  • Apply window insulation film to seal air leaks. Low cost and easy to install.

  • Caulk and weatherstrip around all doors and windows to seal gaps and cracks.

  • Add storm windows as an extra insulation layer for winter. Remove in summer.

  • Hang thermal curtains and keep them closed at night and on cloudy days.

  • Keep exterior doors closed as much as possible. Install sliding door panels.

  • Add draft blockers at bottom of doors and thick rugs near exits.

Upgrade Water Heating

Water heating accounts for 14-18% of home energy costs. Some efficiency tips:

  • Set hot water heater temperature to 120°F (49°C) to save energy.

  • Insulate hot water pipes to reduce heat loss.

  • Install low-flow showerheads to use less hot water.

  • Fix any leaking faucets to avoid wasting hot water.

  • Drain 1-2 gallons from tank annually to remove sediment buildup.

  • Consider a tankless water heater when replacing an existing unit.

Switch to Energy Efficient Appliances

Replacing old appliances with ENERGY STAR models can really reduce energy bills.

  • When your refrigerator needs replacing, get an ENERGY STAR model. Saves 20% on electricity.

  • Wash clothes in cold water. Hot water costs $0.05/load versus $0.03 for cold.

  • Only run dishwasher with full loads. Scrape dishes instead of rinsing.

  • Replace old TVs, computers, and consoles with ENERGY STAR electronics. Saves 20% or more.

  • Unplug appliances and electronics when not in use to avoid standby power draw.

Change Energy Usage Habits

Simple habit changes around your home go a long way too:

  • Turn off lights when leaving a room. Rely on natural light whenever possible.

  • Enable “sleep mode” on computers and TVs instead of leaving them on 24/7.

  • Use microwaves, pressure cookers, and crockpots instead of the stove/oven.

  • Limit use of space heaters. Close off and heat only occupied rooms.

  • Run ceiling fans to circulate air. Raise thermostat temp a few degrees.

  • Wash laundry in cold water, air dry when possible, and skip appliance heat settings.

With some effort, you can decrease energy use and costs in your home without big investments. Try these budget-friendly tips for easy efficiency gains. Over time they can add up to big savings.