How to Reduce Your Energy Costs With Simple Changes Around the Home

How to Reduce Your Energy Costs With Simple Changes Around the Home

How to Reduce Your Energy Costs With Simple Changes Around the Home

Audit Your Home’s Energy Use

The first step to reducing your energy costs 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 monthly energy bills. Look at your usage over the past year to see if there are months where you use more electricity or natural gas. This can help identify what appliances or behaviors are driving your energy use.

  • Use an energy monitor. You can purchase a whole home energy monitor or individual monitors for appliances to track real-time energy usage. This allows you to pinpoint the biggest energy hogs.

  • Conduct an appliance audit. Make a list of all electric and gas powered appliances in your home. Estimate how many hours per day or week each appliance is used. Multiply estimated usage by the wattage/BTUs to calculate energy consumption.

  • Check for air leaks. On a windy day, hold a lit incense stick next to doors, windows, electrical outlets, attic hatches, etc. to check for air leaks. Air leaks let conditioned air escape, wasting energy.

  • Inspect insulation. Checking the insulation levels in your attic, walls, crawlspace, and basement can reveal opportunities for energy savings.

Upgrade Appliances and Lighting

Replacing outdated or inefficient appliances and lighting with ENERGY STAR certified models is one of the fastest ways to reduce energy waste in your home.

Appliances

Consider upgrading appliances that are over 10 years old. Look for the ENERGY STAR label when shopping for:

  • Refrigerators – New models use 25-50% less energy than those manufactured before 2000.

  • Dishwashers – Choose units with booster water heaters and look for the most water-efficient models.

  • Clothes washers – Front loading, high efficiency models use 50% less water and energy.

  • Dryers – Moisture sensor technology prevents over-drying and saves energy.

Lighting

Switch to energy efficient LED lighting. Some easy upgrades include:

  • Replacing incandescent bulbs with LEDs which use at least 75% less energy.

  • Install LED fixtures in ceiling cans and track lighting.

  • Swap CFLs for LED lighting. LEDs last longer and do not contain mercury.

Adjust Thermostats

Turning your thermostat down in winter and up in summer can generate significant savings.

  • Programmable thermostats make it easy to keep temperatures low when you are asleep or away from home.

  • In winter, keep the thermostat at 68°F or lower during the daytime and 60°F overnight.

  • During summer, set the thermostat to 78°F or higher when running the air conditioner.

  • Use a fan instead of A/C on milder days. Ceiling, portable, and window fans use 90% less energy than air conditioning.

Weatherize Your Home

Sealing air leaks and adding insulation helps keep indoor air temperatures consistent, allowing heating and cooling systems to work less to maintain desired temps.

  • Seal air leaks with caulk and weatherstripping around windows, doors, pipes, etc.

  • Add insulation to attics, basements, and crawl spaces that are under insulated.

  • Install storm windows in colder climates to reduce heat loss through windows.

  • Use insulating window treatments like thermal curtains in the winter.

Take Advantage of Passive Solar Heating and Cooling

Passive solar home design takes advantage of natural light and heat to reduce energy usage. Some tactics include:

  • Installing larger, south facing windows to maximize heat from the winter sun.

  • Adding thermal mass like concrete or bricks to absorb daytime heat and release it slowly.

  • Planting deciduous trees along the south side of your home to allow sun in during winter.

  • Closing curtains and blinds during summer days to reduce solar heat gain.

  • Opening windows in the evening when outdoor air is cooler than indoor air.

Change Habits Around the Home

Simple behavior changes in every room of your home can lead to reduced energy consumption.

  • Turn off lights, electronics, and appliances when not in use.

  • Enable power management features on computers and entertainment systems.

  • Run full loads of laundry and dishes to maximize efficiency. Air dry dishes instead of using heated dry cycle.

  • Cook efficiently using lids on pots, microwaves, pressure cookers, and smaller appliances when possible.

  • Unplug phone and laptop chargers when not needed.

With some easy fixes like sealing air leaks, upgrading lighting, and changing daily habits, you can create a more energy efficient home and reduce monthly bills. Consult an energy auditor if you need help getting started.