When we think of how to make a house more energy efficient, our minds often go toward expensive big-ticket items. It’s true; new air conditioners, refrigerators, and dishwashers can surely save a lot of energy compared to most older machines.
If your appliances are working and aren’t terribly inefficient, keeping them can be the green thing to do. If they are too inefficient, replacing them will pay off sooner than later. Fortunately, there are many other ways to make a huge impact on your energy costs and environmental footprint.
Here are some best practices to consider:
1. Sealing Windows, Doors, and Floors
Unlike major appliance upgrades or home renovations, a new and improved seal for your windows, doors, and floors can make your home more energy efficient without requiring a big upfront investment or skilled labor. Many big-box retailers and online stores offer simple sealing tapes that you can install yourself without special equipment.
Home heating and cooling costs account for around 38% of your home’s energy costs, according to the TVA. Every little thing that helps regulate your house’s temperature goes a long way. In extreme climates, you should also consider spending a little more or hiring a professional to make sure you are shutting out the summer heat or winter cold with maximum efficiency.
2. Installing Quality Insulation
New insulation may seem like too much of a project for some people, but it really is worth it for everyone. Modern insulation products work wonders to help your heating and cooling systems operate efficiently. Check your insulation to make sure it meets the EPA recommendations for your climate. The builder or previous owner may have skimped on the insulation. As a bonus, if you re-insulate your home, it offers a great chance to do some spring cleaning in your attic and other storage areas.
3. Cleaning Your A/C Filters
Just like dirty engine filters can hamper your car’s performance, dirty air conditioning filters can drastically reduce the efficiency of your home cooling. You may not notice the problem because your A/C is still cooling your home. However, the machine could be working overtime, huffing and puffing and racking up costs and environmental impact due to the unchanged filter.
4. Programmed Thermostat
A thermostat with programmable times and temperatures is a great investment that will repay you every day thereafter. Once installed, you can set your heat and air conditioning to minimal effort while you are at work. Perhaps you enjoy extra A/C throughout the weekends. Come Monday morning, it’s nice to run out the door to work without having to adjust the thermostat. The fact is, timed thermostats help you save your own energy as well as maintaining reasonable energy costs for your home.
5. Green Your Appliances
Laundry might be the best place to start for improving your appliances’ efficiency. The first step doesn’t even require buying new machines! Just make sure to use high-efficiency detergent designed for cold water. Modern detergents can wash well with cold water. You might compromise by washing whites with warm water and everything else with cold.
You’ve no doubt considered compact fluorescent lights. CFL bulbs use 75% less energy than traditional incandescents. If you have been hesitant about CFLs, consider placing just a few around the house at first and use them with more transparent lampshades. Use other bulbs for reading and computer usage if you wish, but most lighting should be coming from CFLs.
Otherwise, any appliances you can replace with more efficient ones will pay off in the long run. Start with your oldest, least efficient machine and go from there.
Published on behalf of Ms. Nicole M. She has been writing about solar energy for years. She has researched everything from the newest solar panel technologies to the advantages of installing solar panels in Perth, Australia.