Tips for an Energy Efficient Home
If you are like many homeowners, you want to make your home more energy efficient. After all, sustainability starts on the homefront. The good news is that you don’t have to dramatically overhaul your lifestyle or invest tons of money in renovations.
Here are 19 simple ways to create an energy efficient home. It’s easy and do your part to keep the planet clean and green. Plus, you will save money, too!
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1. Power Down
What if you could become more energy-efficient while improving your relationships with those you hold nearest and dearest? You can. The answer is as simple as locating the button on your phone, tablet and computer that turns off the power.
Those devices you rely on to run much of your modern life use a considerable amount of electricity. Worse, spending too much time online deprives you of genuine human connection — something everyone needs. Why not resolve to disconnect from your devices for just one day per week, perhaps on Sunday? Use this time for playing a pickup basketball game or picnicking in the park as a family.
2. Unplug to for an Energy Efficient Home
If you’re like many Americans, you probably have more than one outlet cluttered with charging cables for various devices. Guess what? These little energy vampires can suck up around 25 watts from your grid even when not in use. Multiply that by several gadget cords, and you are wasting a lot of money — and energy.
The simple solution is to pull the plug. Better yet, create an all-in-one charging station in your kitchen or living room that reminds your kids — and you — to keep gadgets out of the bedroom after bedtime.
3. Put Your Lights on a Timer
You’re headed to the shore for the weekend, but you don’t want your house to appear abandoned. Therefore, you leave a light on, right? However, doing so 24/7 needlessly wastes energy.
Instead, invest in a handy timer to switch lamps on and off. You can find easy-to-install timers for about $15 on Amazon and at many hardware stores. Some smart home versions will even let you control your lights remotely with your smart phone.
4. Caulk Your Energy Efficient Home
It’s so peaceful to sit by your front window, watching the weather change — until you catch a chill. What you feel is the heat in your house escaping as the cold seeps in.
Sealing leaks and drafts is as simple as applying caulk. Scrape off the old, peeling stuff and use calking that’s suited to your climate. Ask your hardware store associate for a recommendation.
Your doors are another point of egress for your home’s energy. Fortunately, you can fix the issue with a bit of weatherstripping, often costing less than $10 a roll.
Apply this material during daylight hours. That way, you can see if any efficiency-draining cracks remain and remedy them.
6. Seal Your Ducts
This tip might require a quick trip to your attic or crawl space. But it could save you energy and money. Over time, the seals where your dryer and HVAC systems exit to the outdoors become worn. Furthermore, cracks in your ductwork can cause leakage.
Seal visible ducts using the old-fashioned method of tape and mastic paint. Alternatively, you can hire a professional to mist the inside of your ductwork with a liquid rubber sealant and blower fan. The latter option is more costly but works if you can’t easily reach parts of your system.
7. Undress Your Windows
You might need blackout curtains if you work the night shift. Otherwise, why make your home look like a funeral parlor by blocking out natural light?
If necessary, opt for one-way window film that lets you see out without allowing outsiders to peep. This material costs relatively little and could save you a bundle on new furniture and floors. It keeps you warmer while blocking the UV radiation that can fade wood and leather.
8. “Lighten Up” Your Paint
Dark colors absorb the radiant light of the sun, whereas light colors reflect it. When it comes time for a fresh coat of paint, keep this principle in mind.
Folks who dwell in warm-weather climates should stick to hues like beige and ecru. Those in cooler zones can help their homes feel warmer by painting them slightly darker.
9. Go LED for an Energy Efficient Home
The next time your lightbulb goes out, don’t try to save cash by buying the cheapest replacement the store carries. Doing so could cost you — and the planet — more in the long run.
LED bulbs use 75% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs, so you won’t have to replace them again for years. You can even find fun colors if you want to get a bit funky with your decor.
10. Dim the Lights
Another way you can minimize your energy consumption is to install a dimmer switch. This trick comes in handy during the darker winter months when you spend more time indoors.
Recycling is far more efficient than harvesting raw materials — but it still takes energy. Save gas driving to the sorting center and transform items by repurposing them at home.
That old T-shirt can become a pet pillow or become a smock for art projects. Those empty egg cartons are the perfect seedling starter base for your summer garden. Get creative and you find new uses for old things!
12. Air Dry Clothes at Your Energy Efficient Home
How many loads of laundry do you do each week? If you have kids involved in sports, it may seem like your washing machine never takes a break.
Your dryer can, though. Just install a clothesline in the backyard of your energy efficient home. Your garments will smell fresher, and you’ll use less energy. If your HOA frowns on such things, use clothes drying racks that sit on your patio or balcony. That way, your neighbors’ aesthetic sensibilities won’t be offended.
13. Change the Filters in Your Energy Efficient Home
Virtually everyone has worn a mask at some point since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Is it easier to breathe through a thin, clean covering or one coated in dirt and muck?
Your home’s HVAC system works on similar principles — it isn’t nearly as energy-efficient with filthy filters. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests changing your filters every three months. However, you might want to do so more often if you have pets or smokers in the home.
14. Wrap Your Water Heater
You rely on your water heater to make winter bathing both possible and pleasurable. However, this appliance can leak heat if you leave it uncovered.
Bundle up that baby to keep energy from escaping at your energy efficient home. You can pick up water heather blankets for less than $50 on Amazon. The chore takes less than an hour and makes a decided difference.
15. Clean Your Appliances
That gunk buildup in your dishwasher doesn’t only leave yucky spots on your dishes — it also makes this appliance less efficient. The same goes for your washing machine.
Fortunately, white vinegar is your friend here. Once a month, pour a generous amount in the bottom of each appliance and into the dispensers. Run the machine once through on the hottest setting to keep these gadgets sparkling and efficient.
16. Use Fans in Your Energy Efficient Home
You don’t need to be an energy genius to know running a fan takes less power than cranking up the AC or heater. However, you need to know how to flip the switch for maximum efficiency.
During the summer months, your blades should run counterclockwise, pushing air down to create a cool breeze. If possible, reverse the direction in the winter to distribute the warm air rising from the floor more evenly. This can save you up to 15% on heating costs.
Even if you don’t have ceiling fans, buy portable fans for summer use. Prices start at about $20. Check the selection on Amazon.
17. Adjust Your Thermostat
Maybe you’re too young to remember former President Jimmy Carter’s fireside chat where he advised people to put on a sweater instead of turning up their thermostat in the winter. His words of wisdom are even more vital for the generations facing the worst impacts of climate change.
Adjusting your thermostat by one or two degrees can save you 2%-3% on your average heating and cooling costs. Most people won’t notice this small temperature change, but the planet and your wallet will thank you.
Even better: install a smart thermostat. Read our Guide to the Best Smart Thermostats.
18. Winter Baking
Do you turn into a regular Martha Stewart during the holiday season? Don’t waste all that glorious oven heat when you could use it to keep your home warmer.
Instead, open your oven door when you finish making cookies and pies. The heat will escape into the surrounding air, warming it without turning on the heater. (If you have little ones, install a safety gate. It’s a plus to keep tiny tots out of rooms containing burners, knives and cleaning supplies, anyway.)
During the summer months, try to do your baking during the evening when the outdoor temperatures are cooler.
19. Go a Little Solar
Maybe you lack the funds to upgrade your entire home to solar energy. Or, perhaps you rent and see no point in improving your landlord’s property.
However, did you know that you can invest in portable solar panels? Some simple window models can power your home office devices. Other varieties involve a bit more work to install but can still save you money on your monthly energy bills. Another choice is a portable solar panel that you can take to a campsite or set up in your backyard.
Make Your Home an Energy Efficient Home
Protecting Mother Earth is everyone’s responsibility. Fortunately, you don’t need deep pockets or much DIY expertise to do your part to make a difference. Make your abode an energy efficient home with these tips—and a little bit of your own creativity.