Reducing your home’s energy consumption will not only save you money, but it will also reduce your carbon footprint. Unfortunately, many homeowners aren’t aware of just how easy it is to create an energy efficient home.
Here are 10 ways to reduce your household’s energy use while protecting the environment.
10 Ways to Save Energy
1. Adjust your everyday behaviors.
You do not necessarily need to go out and purchase all new energy efficient appliances. You can add money to your wallet by just simply turning off lights or appliances when you do not need them. You can also change your daily habits a bit when time allows - try things such as hang-drying your clothes instead of putting them in the dryer or washing dishes by hand.
One BIG area to focus on is your utility bills ... turning down the heat on your thermostat in the winter and using your air conditioner less in the summer, for example. Heating and cooling costs constitute nearly half of an average home’s utility bills, so by throwing on a sweater or blanket or opening up a window can offer the greatest savings.
2. Replace your light bulbs.
It’s great to have lights but different types of lights use energy differently and therefore cost different. Traditional incandescent light bulbs (yellow lights) drain your money more than newer ones. Halogen incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), and light-emitting diode bulbs (LEDs) use anywhere from 25-80% less electricity and last three to 25 times longer than traditional bulbs.
Although they are more expensive off the shelf, their efficient energy use and longer service lives mean that they cost less in the long run. It’s a marathon, not the spirit. Energy efficient bulbs are the clear winners in terms of what’s good for Mother Earth and your wallet.
3. Use smart power strips.
Ever heard of “Phantom loads?” It’s the electricity used by electronics when they are turned off or in standby mode. Believe it or not ...when things are off, they are not really off. It’s actually a major source of wasted energy. In fact, it is estimated that up to 75% of the energy used to power household electronics is consumed when they are switched off! When you add that all up, it can cost you up to $200 per year. Smart power strips can solve this problem. We are all familiar with the traditional power strips that have a “Kill Button” to turn things off. The problem is that none of us really turn those off. Smart power strips can be set to turn off at an assigned time, during a period of inactivity, through remote switches, or based on the status of a “master” device. Smart, huh?
4. Install a programmable or smart thermostat.
By upgrading to a programmable or smart thermostat, you can set things to automatically turn off or reduce heating and cooling during the times when you are asleep or away. Now you’re not being wasteful, and you may save some wear on your HVAC system. Just makes sense.
When you look at the math on things, on average, a programmable thermostat can save you $180 per year. When you go price things out, a new thermostat will cost you $20-$70. Do the math. It’s a good investment. Programmable thermostats come in different models that can be set to fit your weekly schedule.
5. Purchase energy efficient appliances.
When you look at your household use, on average, appliances use roughly 13% of household energy. When you purchase an appliance, pay attention to two numbers: the initial purchase price and the annual operating cost. Yes, models with lower annual operating costs may have higher purchase prices, but their operating costs are typically 9-25% lower than conventional models.
So how do you know what you’re buying? Look for appliances with the ENERGY STAR label, which is a federal guarantee that the appliance will consume less energy during use and when on standby than the old models. Energy savings vary based on the specific appliance. For example, ENERGY STAR certified washing machines consume 25% less energy and 45% less water than conventional ones, but ENERGY STAR refrigerators use only 9% less energy...hence on average we are using 13% in our overall example.
6. Reduce your water heating expenses.
Do you love a HOT Shower? We all do, but here is a way to have your cake and eat it too. Other than purchasing an energy efficient water heater, there are three ways of reducing your water heating expenses:
- simply use less hot water,
- turn down the thermostat on your water heater,
- insulate your water heater and the first six feet of hot and cold water pipes.
Now all 3 of those are easy to do. If you are considering replacing your water heater with an efficient model, you should keep in mind two things: first, the type of water heater that meets your needs and second, the type of fuel it will use. For example, tankless water heaters are energy efficient, but they are also a bad choice for families with 4 or more people because they cannot handle a lot of straight uses with enough hot water. Everyone hates have a cold shower. Did you also know - efficient water heaters can be anywhere between 8% and 300% more energy efficient than old ones. That can directly reduce your monthly bill.
7. Upgrade your HVAC system.
Now the HVAC system is made up of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment. Here’s an nsight though, the heating alone is responsible for more than 40% of home energy use. ENERGY STAR gas furnaces have different specifications in the northern and southern halves of the United States due to different climates.
So upgrading to a “U.S. South” ENERGY STAR certification can save you up to 12% on your heating bill, or an average of $36 per year. Now that is good, right? But ENERGY STAR furnaces in the northern half of the U.S. are labeled with the standard ENERGY STAR logo and are up to 16% more efficient, or average savings of $94 per year on your heating bill.
When you look at the air conditioning side of things, differences are not as much – on average, it only makes up six percent of the total energy use of your home. ENERGY STAR central air conditioning units are eight percent more efficient.
The last part of things – ventilation – can also help save you money. The ventilation system is made up of a network of ducts, which distributes hot and cold air throughout your home. If the ducts are not properly sealed or insulated, this can add hundreds of dollars to your heating and cooling bill every year. It’s worth it to have things properly insulation and working right, it can reduce your heating and cooling expenses by up to 20%.
8. Weatherize your home.
Weatherizing or sealing any air leaks around your home is a great way to save money. First look at the common places - vents, windows, and doors. Check to see if there are no cracks or openings between the wall and vent, window, or door frame. If you do see any, you need to seal them.
To seal air leaks between a wall and window, you can apply caulk. For cracks between moving objects, like a sliding windows or doors, you can apply weather stripping. Weather stripping and caulking are simple air sealing ways that typically pay for themselves in less than a year. You can get these at any DIY store. Air leaks can also happen through openings in the wall, floor, and ceiling from plumbing, ducting, or electrical wiring. So check these locations too.
Air leaking also happen a TON in your attic, through small openings. Whether it is through ducts, light fixtures, or the attic hatch, hot air will rise and escape through small openings. As heat moves from warmer to cooler areas, these small openings can make your heating bill even higher if your attic is not insulated well. To make sure you’re getting the best results, you should fully insulating your home.
9. Insulate your home.
Insulation is a BIG way to lowering your utility bills, it helps to retain heat during the winter and keeps heat out of your home during the summer. In the South where it is warmer, the recommended R-value tied to insulation is much lower than for houses located in colder regions like the Northeast.
The level of insulation depends on the area of your house. Your attic, walls, floors, basement, and crawlspace are the five main areas where you should beef up the insulation. Use this Home Energy Saver tool for recommendations based on the specifications of your home, or find general regional insulation recommendations on the Department of Energy’s webpage.
10. Move towards solar power.
Solar power is here to stay and costs are coming down. According to the most recent report from Lazard, Solar has seen an 86% decrease in cost per megawatt hour from 2009 to 2017. The chart below shows how solar compares to the other energy sources. This is mostly due to the economy of scale and government programs. And if you accompany that with leaving behind the old lead batteries often used in solar installations and replacing those with Lithium Ion Batteries, then it changes things in a big way. New technology can make a tremendous difference. For example, lithium Ion batteries store solar energy, holds a charge for a year with relatively no maintenance, and can last for more than a decade. You can’t do that with lead acid batteries.
Bonus Tip: Give Lion Energy a try.
We hope these tips will lead you towards achieving an eco-friendly home. Remember, it takes practice, preparation, and perseverance. At Lion Energy, we’re evolving the powering of everyday life with portable, renewable energy. Shop our energy-efficient products today!