Easiest Energy Efficiency Improvements That Make a Big Impact on Utilities
Being green and lowering the cost of utilities go hand in hand. Whether you want an energy efficient home to reduce your carbon footprint or to save money, both outcomes are the end result when you follow the tips below.
Get the HVAC Serviced
When you’re trying to lower your bills, spending money doesn’t always seem like the most logical solution. However, having a professional service and/or repairing the HVAC is a sound investment.
An air conditioning repair or new cooling system can essentially pay for itself if you choose the right technician. HVAC systems that aren’t properly operating have to work harder to provide climate control. That means a lot of extra energy gets used and money is wasted. Two other issues that can cause the HVAC to get overused and waste energy are leaks in the ductwork and low Freon levels. All of these issues can be addressed by getting your HVAC system serviced annually.
Use a Programmable Thermostat
Now that you’ve gotten your HVAC system serviced, keep the energy efficiency going with a programmable thermostat. ENERGY STAR has estimated that this simple device can save families $180 a year when it’s used properly. All you have to do is follow their basic guidelines:
- Use the pre-set programming to automatically increase the daytime temperature by seven degrees in the summer when no one is home, or decrease it by eight degrees in the winter.
- Decrease the bedtime pre-set temperature by eight degrees in the winter and increase it by four degrees in the summer.
- Instead of altering the pre-set program, use the temporary override option to increase or decrease the temperature a few extra degrees.
- Don’t dramatically increase or decrease the temperature – it won’t heat or cool the home quicker and uses more energy.
- If you live in a two-story home, install a second programmable thermostat upstairs for better control, savings and comfort.
Turn on the Fans
In the summertime, you can keep your thermostat up a few degrees by using overhead fans. They don’t actually make the temperature of a room cooler, but fans do make a person feel more comfortable because of wind chill effect. The fan moves the air around, which in turn helps evaporate moisture on the skin. Body heat is eliminated and you’ll feel cooler without bumping the temperature down. Since fans use a lot less energy than the HVAC system, you’ll save energy and money.
Make Use of Natural Lighting
Lighting accounts for about 10% of energy use in a home. Instead of using electricity to get lighting, let Mother Nature do the work for you. As long as you have energy efficient windows that don’t transfer a lot of heat, open up the windows or blinds and let the natural light in. Cut back any vegetation that’s in front of the windows so the light isn’t blocked. If you want to really maximize the natural light add a skylight to bathrooms, closets and other areas that don’t have windows.
Switch to Energy Efficient Bulbs
Another easy way to save energy on lighting is to swap out your old incandescent light bulbs for energy efficient LEDs and compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. Anytime you need to replace a bulb instead of opting for the cheaper incandescent products, pay a few dollars more for an LED or CFL and you can save up to 80% more electricity. According to Energy.gov, LEDs and CFLs also last up to 25 times longer. Replace the five most used lights in your home and you’ll save about $75 a year.
Weatherize Around Doors
One reason HVAC systems have to work so hard to control the climate of a home is air leakage. Small air leaks can be all around a home, but they are most common around doors. They’ll let air from the outside in and also allow the cooled or heated air inside to flow out.
Homeowners can easily plug up some of the biggest leaks by weatherizing around the door. All you need is weather stripping, a door sweep and caulk. Use the caulk to seal around the door casing and put the weather stripping all the way around the inside of the door jam. Finally, affix the door sweep to the bottom of the door.
Doing small things to improve energy efficiency can really add up. Even though it might cost a little bit up front, you’ll save money in the end and help keep the planet green.