Being more energy efficient nowadays has become an important aspect of our daily lives as we try to preserve energy for our planet. Mother Earth is so good to us, we need to give back and also cut down our own costs while doing so! So, how do we make our homes more energy efficient? Here are some ways:
Insulation – First, make sure your home is insulated well. According to greenhomeguide.com, “Effective insulation slows the rate that heat flows out of the house in winter or into the house in summer, so less energy is required to heat or cool the house. If your house has no wall insulation, and it has more-or-less continuous wall cavities (such as conventional stud walls), blown-in insulation can greatly improve your comfort and save enough energy to be very cost-effective. It rarely pays to blow additional insulation into already insulated walls. If your attic is unfinished, it often pays to upgrade its insulation.”
Air-conditioning unit- Adjust the thermostat. Raising the temperature just one degree saves 7 percent to 10 percent on cooling costs. Or choose a more energy-efficient air-conditioning unit. The higher the seasonal energy efficiency, or SEER, rating, the more efficient the unit. Look for a rating of 13 or greater. Change the filter regularly. Add ceiling fans and portable fans to help circulate the air and cut down on air-conditioner use.
Water Heater– Replace an electric water heater with a natural-gas water heater. Set water heater temperature to 120 degrees.
Windows- If your windows are old and leaky, it may be time to replace them with energy-efficient models or boost their efficiency with weatherstripping and storm windows. It is almost never cost-effective to replace windows just to save energy. According to EnergyStar.gov, “replacing windows will save 7 to 24 percent of your heating and air-conditioning bills, but the larger savings would be associated with replacing single-glazed windows. However, if you are replacing windows for other reasons anyway, in many areas the additional cost of Energy Star-rated replacement windows is very modest, perhaps $15 per window. This upgrade would be cost-effective and increase your comfort to boot.”
Install Solar Panels- Although solar panels aren’t exactly cheap, they’re becoming a popular way to heat hot water and generate electricity for homes. They help you save money on energy bills in the long run, promote lower fossil fuel usage and may help you qualify for annual tax incentives. Typically, they are installed on your roof and cut your electricity costs by generating energy independently of your utility company.
Plant Trees– If your home is old and difficult to get it to be energy efficient technologically, you have the option of growing plants, “If your house is older, with relatively poor insulation and windows, good landscaping (particularly deciduous trees) can save energy, especially if planted on the house’s west side. In summer, the foliage blocks infrared radiation that would warm the house, while in winter the bare branches let this radiation come through. Of course, if your house has very good insulation and Energy Star or better windows, the effect is much, much smaller because the building shell itself is already blocking almost all the heat gain.”
LED Light Bulbs– Change your light bulbs to LED. According to the US Department of energy, rapid adoption of LED bulbs would collectively save $265 billion over the next 20 years. This switch would also help eliminate the need to build 40 new power plants and save hundreds of millions of tons of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere.LED light bulbs use only 2-17 watts of electricity (1/3rd to 1/30th of Incandescent or CFL). LED bulbs used in fixtures inside the home save electricity, remain cool, and save money on replacement costs since LED bulbs last so long. Small LED flashlight bulbs will extend battery life 10 to 15 times longer than incandescent bulbs.
Remember to also turn off lights when you are not using!
Unplug Unused Chargers- Cell phone and battery chargers that are plugged in but not in use are often referred to as energy vampires. According to Energy.gov, the average charger consumes 0.26 watts of energy when not in use and 2.24 watts when connected to your phone. Alone, one charger won’t make much impact, but collectively energy vampires can be responsible for 10% of your energy bill. So, unplug your chargers when not in use.
Install Low-Flow Shower-heads- Installing low-flow showerheads improves your home’s water efficiency. Low-flow showerheads have a flow rate of less than 2.5 gpm (gallons per minute), while most conventional showerheads use 5 gallons per minute. The 6 Function Adjustable Luxury Shower Head is a great quality Low-flow shower-head that will still give you a great pressure!
Furnace– “If your furnace was built before 1992 and has a standing pilot, it probably wastes 35 percent of the fuel it uses, and it is probably near the end of its service life. In this case, in all but the warmest climates, ACEEE recommends early replacement with a condensing furnace with annual efficiency of at least 90 percent. This type of furnace wastes no more than 10 percent of the natural gas you buy, and may save you as much as 27 percent on your heating bill.
If your furnace was installed after 1991, it probably has an annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating of 80 percent, so the savings from replacement is smaller, but would be at least 11 percent if the unit is working perfectly. Your heating service technician or energy auditor may be able to help you determine the AFUE of your present system.”
Replace Your Desktop Computer- Most tech experts estimate that you should replace your computer every four years. When the time comes for your desktop computer, consider replacing it with a laptop. According to SmallBusinessChron.com, laptops use up to 80% less electricity and run on less energy. Laptop computers typically peak at a maximum energy draw of only 60 watts, whereas most desktops peak around 175 watts. Laptops don’t come with a cheap price tag, but they are greener.
Toilets– Replace toilets with low-flow or dual-flush models.
Wash with Cold Water– Avoid running your washing machine with hot water and opt for cold or warm water when possible. According to Treehugger.com, 90% of the energy used by your washer is used to heat the water, and the other 10% is used to run the machine. This means using cooler water for every load can potentially save a significant amount of energy.
Buy or build a rainwater collection system- Rainwater collection systems allow you to trap rainwater that would otherwise become runoff. That trapped water can then be used as irrigation water for your lawn or plants. For more information here are 23 DIY rainwater harvesting ideas you can build at home.
Also, inspect your sprinkler systems for leaks and reduce the size of your lawn if possible. Plant more drought tolerant plants.
Compost Pile- Having a compost pile reduces the amount of trash you produce on a daily basis. Compost is the result of organic waste that’s kept in a pile or container that decomposes over time. Your fruit and vegetable waste becomes valuable fertilizer for your lawn or garden. For more information go to, How to start a compost pile.
Changing even a few of these makes a big difference. Mother Earth will thank you!