The average homeowner spends more per year on heating and cooling their home than their parents or grandparents did in the 1970s. Yet homeowners often don’t think to make changes that can reduce these costs because they don’t want to spend more money upfront.
But with increased energy prices, it is becoming increasingly difficult for families to stay warm in winter and cool in summer without spending a fortune on utilities. The good news is simple changes like installing efficient lights or using an efficient thermostat can go a long way toward reducing your utility bills.
Here are some other tips you should consider if you want your house to be more energy-efficient:
1. Insulate the House
The first and most important change that anyone can make to their house is to cut down on the amount of heat escaping.
New insulation should be considered for any areas with no insulation, including attics above unheated spaces. While this may sound expensive, there are plenty of ways to get free or cheap supplies, such as working with whomever you are doing your home renovations with to get the insulation materials that they would otherwise discard for free.
New windows should be installed to ensure that the ones currently in place are not leaking any of the heated or cooled air outside. Low-E (low emissivity) glass can be used to prevent heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer.
Other types of glass, including double-paned or triple-paned windows with argon or krypton gas between the layers, are also energy-efficient.
2. Switch to Renewable Energy
There are many ways to switch your house over to renewable energy. These include installing solar power. A solar-energy setup usually involves photovoltaic (PV) panels, an inverter to convert the direct-current output of the PV panels to alternating current for your home’s outlets, and batteries to store the energy produced by the PV panels during good weather when it cannot be immediately used.
Another way is by installing a windmill to generate electricity. In this setup, the windmills are installed on your property, often on the top of your garage. The windmill turns a propeller to run generators inside of it.
Other kinds of alternative energy for the home are hydroelectric and hydrogen fuel cells.
You can use solar hot water heaters for the most cost-effective way of heating water. Geothermal heat pumps can also be used for both heating and cooling a home.
3. Invest in Energy-Efficient Appliances
Every appliance uses energy—some more than others. The most common household appliances that can be replaced to make your home more energy-efficient are lightbulbs, fridges, washing machines, dryers, and dishwasher.
Replacing these appliances with Energy Star rated versions can significantly cut down on the amount of electricity they use over time. You can also minimize energy consumption by using these appliances wisely and properly:
For example, make sure to use your dishwasher only when there are full loads of dishes and be sure the dishwasher is full before starting it. If so desired, run your garbage disposal before washing dishes to waste less water.
Meanwhile, the average person washes enough laundry for a week or more with each laundry cycle. Only wash as much as your washer can hold at once and be sure to set the water level based on how much is in there. Also, see to it that everything is securely placed so that no energy is wasted by an unbalanced load.
4. Use Efficient Lighting
The most efficient light sources are LED, CFL, and halogen. Each type of bulb uses between 5 and 10 percent of the total energy used by an ordinary incandescent bulb.
Replacing old lights with modern LED bulbs can reduce energy usage by as much as 90 percent. Halogen bulbs have a lifespan of around 2,000 to 4,000 hours compared to only 750 to 2,000 hours of incandescent and use 20 percent less energy than ordinary bulbs.
5. Look Into Green Building Practices
If you want to go the extra mile to make your house energy efficient, look into building green. This can include using recycled materials in construction, choosing low-flow fixtures when installing plumbing or heating systems, and much more.
It’s also important to note that heating and cooling your house uses more than 50 percent of the total energy used in most houses. Making sure you have insulation, good windows, and efficient appliances can go a long way to reducing this number.
6. Use a Thermostat
Installing a programmable thermostat is inexpensive and easy to do. Getting one with a motion sensor so that it knows when you are home or not can be even more efficient.
With a programmable thermostat, the best setting is one that sets back your heat and air conditioning when no one is home and has it return to normal at set times. See to it that the automatic setting is in line with typical activity of yours so that it can adjust accordingly without needing manual changes.
7. Upgrade to a Smart House
If you have a house with wiring in place, consider upgrading it to a smart home. This can allow you to control things from your phone when you are away from the house, such as turning lights on and off or controlling the temperature through a programmable thermostat.
It may be expensive up front but will pay off in the long run. You can also begin with a few changes such as efficient lighting or a programmable thermostat.
8. Consider Using Security Lighting
It’s a good idea to use energy-efficient exterior lights as a form of security for both your home and family. Motion-sensing floodlamps illuminate the outside of your house when it gets dark, making your property more visible to passing cars or pedestrians. Using LED or halogen bulbs can reduce your lighting costs by up to 90 percent.
9. Pay Attention to the Roof
If you are planning on replacing your roof, consider using energy-efficient shingles. They have a high R-value of around 5 per inch, making them perfect for hot climates where homes often overheat during summer months.
Some types are even designed to look like traditional shingles, but use solar panels to help heat the house during winter months.
Making your home more energy-efficient can take a little time, but the long-term savings make it worth it. If you are able to cut down on heating and cooling costs, you will quickly see the benefits of switching out your lights or lowering your thermostat.