Is your home as energy-efficient as it could be? Chances are you could tweak a few things here and there to help further benefit the environment and save money on your utility bills. Conserving more energy ultimately means extra money in your pocket and when it comes time to sell, an article by the Washington Post showed buyers were willing to pay up to $53,000 more for homes that feature green upgrades. Let’s take a look at ways to help make your home energy efficient.
Swap Out Your Appliances
Although you may spend more initially, you can save money in the long run by replacing your outdated appliances with Energy Star efficient models, which may be eligible for federal/state tax credits or utility company rebates resulting in even more savings. Need to find a receipt to submit for a rebate? You can easily upload and safely store all of your appliance receipts in the warranty documents feature of DomiDocs. If you can’t swap out your appliances, you can still conserve energy by using the air-dry setting instead of heat on your dishwasher, and by keeping your fridge and freezer nearly full as that’s when they operate most efficiently. Regularly cleaning appliance vents will help to ensure maximum performance.
Swap Out Your Lightbulbs
You can use up to 80% less electricity by switching out old energy-sucking lightbulbs with light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs, compact fluorescent lights (CFL), or halogen incandescent bulbs. The bonus here? These energy-efficient bulbs can last anywhere from three to 25 times longer than traditional incandescent light bulbs meaning you’ll save money in the long run as the bulbs won’t need to be replaced as often. Contact your electric company to see if they have programs through which they provide discounted or free replacement bulbs if you switch from incandescent to LED lighting.
Purchase Smart Power Strips
Did you know that an estimated 75% of the energy used to power your household electronics is actually consumed when they’re switched off? That’s a crazy prospect that could easily cost you upwards of $200 annually. A smart power strip controls the flow of power to multiple items at a time such as a sound system, a TV, and/or video gaming platforms. You can set the smart power strip to turn off when you’d like or after a certain length of inactivity.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
To maintain an optimum year-round temperature in your home, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers recommends setting your thermostat to 70° for heating and 78° for cooling. Keeping steady temperatures without a huge fluctuation year-round is a great way to save money overall. It’s a good idea to periodically check the thermostat settings as other household members could be making their own adjustments, which may need to be brought back to the recommended baseline. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) experts note that a programmable thermostat can result in savings of up to $180 yearly.
Install an Energy Monitor
You can easily track the real-time electricity usage in your home by installing an energy monitor. Once you identify heavy usage, you can then adjust your habits to reduce energy consumption overall. Energy monitors can conveniently be used with smartphones or smart speakers.
Reduce Your Hot Water Expenses
Heating water for your home results in huge energy consumption. An energy-efficient water heater can be anywhere from eight to 300% more efficient than its conventional counterpart. As a household, you can also aim to use less hot water overall, turn down the temperature setting on your water heater, or by ensuring there’s adequate insulation around the heater and pipes leading up to it. The American Cleaning Institute says nearly 90% of the energy used during a washing machine cycle is used to heat the water so if you substitute cold water to wash some of your clothes, you’ll be saving both energy and money.
Reduce Water Consumption
If you don’t already have low-flow toilets in your household, it’s time to think about switching them out. Consider installing low-flow showerheads designed to use up to 40% less energy and water, which generally constrict usage to 2.5 gallons or less per minute. Many of these showerheads offer high-pressure water output so it’s an easy switch where you may not even notice you’re consuming less water overall.
Insulation is Key
When it comes to having adequate insulation in your home, you should examine your attic, basement, crawlspace, floors, and walls to ensure they meet the recommended R-value, a rating of the insulation’s overall performance, for your geographic location. Generally, the higher the R-Value, the more you’ll be protecting your home. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), homeowners can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs by ensuring their home is well insulated. Besides protecting your home from the inside out with insulation, DomiDocs HomeLock® proactively protects your home against fraudulent activity by scouring third-party listing sites and official records to alert you before the damage is done.
Upgrade Your Windows
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, inefficient windows in your home will use 10 to 25% of your home’s heating bill. If your home has windows that are between 15 and 30 years old, you may want to consider replacing them with new energy-efficient options which will add resale value to your home. If you can’t do a full-on replacement, consider covering single-pane windows with storm windows or plastic film insulation. Energy.gov says installing exterior storm windows can save you $100-$274 annually.
Upgrade Your HVAC
The U.S. Energy Information Administration states that more than 50% of energy use within a home is for heating and air conditioning. You can save money by swapping out your old HVAC system for one with Energy Star certification. Ensuring that your ventilation ducts are properly insulated/sealed by conducting regular maintenance checks can result in savings of up to 20%. Following the manufacturer’s recommendation to change your HVAC system’s filters regularly and keeping your filters clean will result in reduced heating costs, as well as by extending the lifespan of the HVAC unit itself. The EPA’s Energy Star program recommends having a professional inspect your HVAC system twice a year in the spring and fall, using daylight savings time as a reminder. Consider installing ceiling fans to keep the air circulating in your home, but remember to switch the direction of the fan blades to spin clockwise in winter and counter-clockwise to cool your rooms during summer, as well as to dust them off every spring and fall.
Harness the Power of Nature
If you live in a predominantly sunny state, you may want to consider solar power which is captured by using solar cells and stored for immediate or later use. If you’re not sure about installing solar power to heat your home, think about opting in for a solar hot water system that will reduce energy consumption for laundry and showers. In cooler winter months you can encourage natural sunlight into your home but during the summer, you should make it a habit to close all blinds and drapes to keep the sun at bay. If you’ve got at least an acre of land and a regular breeze, utilizing a wind turbine could be another option courtesy of Mother Nature. Planting shade trees can offer savings of up to $119 each year.
Seal Those Leaks
Air leaks in your home commonly occur around doors, windows, and vents. You can visit your local hardware store to find easy and inexpensive fixes such as caulking and weather stripping. Not sure where the air is escaping? Purchase a hand-held thermal leak detector to identify possible airflow within your home. Simply scan the area or appliance with the detector: red areas identify heat, while blue areas are colder. Energy.gov states sealing up uncontrolled air leaks can save you between $83-$166 yearly.
Adjust Your Day-to-Day Habits
According to American businessman Harvey Mackay, “Good habits are as addictive as bad habits, and a lot more rewarding.” You can regularly incorporate money-saving habits into your day-to-day behaviors such as by reducing air conditioning and heating consumption by lowering/raising the temperature thresholds, turning off lights when they’re not in use, or by hanging your clothes outside instead of using a dryer.
Taking all or any of these steps as a homeowner can lead to a more energy-conscious lifestyle and is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint while saving money at the same time. And speaking of saving money, you can proactively protect your home against fraud with HomeLock®, the most comprehensive monitoring and technology available today. Take action by signing up with HomeLock® now before you become the next victim!
Author – Connie Motz