If you’re tired of seeing your energy usage and your utility bill get steeper, there are ways you can find relief. You can save electricity, improve your home’s comfort, and help preserve the environment by making your home more energy efficient. With the money you save from applying these tips, you could buy a composter to help you save on your garbage bill or a low-flow toilet to save on your water bill. Let this lead to more green projects that will not only save you money, but make your home even more healthy, comfortable and sustainable.
Here are some basic recommendations to help you reduce your electricity usage:
Insulate and Seal
The windows, doors, ceilings, floors, and exterior walls of your home may have gaps and cracks, letting air in and out of your home. These holes in your home’s “envelope” can cause your heating and cooling systems to work harder to counteract heat loss and cold air coming in during the winter and the vice-versa in the summer. Often the most effective way to stop this is to improve the insulation in your home’s walls, attic and basement or crawlspace, and apply a sealant to the door and window frames. This will increase the efficiency of your heating and cooling system and keep your home more comfortable.
Assess The Condition of Your HVAC System
If you have a forced-air heating and cooling system, conditioned air is distributed throughout your house via ducts. However, in most homes, about 20 percent of the air moving through the duct system is lost because of leaks and improperly sealed connections. This makes for higher bills and difficulty keeping your home comfortable, no matter how much you fiddle with the thermostat. To get better performance out of your HVAC system, it is critical to seal those leaks and insulate the ducts in unconditioned spaces such as your attic, garage, and crawl space.
If you’re looking for new and updated heating or cooling equipment, make sure you get the best performance by having it properly installed. Installation mistakes can reduce your system’s efficiency by 30 percent – costing you more on your bills and shortening the life of the equipment.
Heat/Cool Portions of Your Home
Heating and cooling only the portions of your home that you use is another great way to improve energy efficiently. If there are rooms in your house that you don’t use regularly, you can close vents and air registers in those areas, directing warm or cool air to the rooms you spend more time in, like family rooms and bedrooms. Houses with central heating and cooling will benefit the most from this tip. However, when using this strategy, be aware of the potential negative effects. With some HVAC systems, especially those that are already highly efficient, shutting too many vents may imbalance the entire system and actually make it run less efficiently. Also, moisture problems will need to be avoided when certain areas of the home are not getting dehumidified air.
Find Heating/Cooling Alternatives
During the summer, look for ways to keep your home cool without constant use of your air conditioner. In the morning and throughout the afternoon, keep your windows closed, and blinds or drapes drawn, to shut out the sun rays that heat up your house. It’s also a good idea to run a few fans to circulate the air, but you may want to look for battery operated fans to keep from using electricity. Another great solution for heat absorbing windows is solar blocking window film. You can have a film applied that will reject up to 70 percent of the solar heat your house may absorb through the windows, keeping your home noticeably cooler.
In the colder months, a wood stove can be an excellent source of supplemental heat in your home and another great way for you to save on your electricity bills. The wood stove models available today offer improved safety, efficiency and lower emissions. If installed and operated properly, a wood stove can produce much less smoke and ash and require less firewood than older models. You can find a stove sized to heat just your family room or your entire home.
Unplug and Invest In Energy Efficient Products.
Some of the biggest energy sucking culprits in our homes are the things we have plugged into electrical sockets. Make sure to unplug electrical items when not in use, especially kitchen gadgets and phone chargers, which are often never unplugged yet used sparingly. If you have some extra cash, invest in energy efficient light bulbs like compact fluorescents (CFLs) and LEDs. Many of them use 75 percent less energy and emit 75 percent less heat than incandescent bulbs, and will save you about $40 on your electricity bill over their lifetime. You can also find energy efficient versions of just about any home appliance or electronic device, like refrigerators, dishwashers, TVs and water heaters.