Home energy efficiency is good for both the environment and your wallet. Some changes require a large investment in time and money to put into place, but others can be busted out in a weekend. Even seemingly small changes can make a big difference over time. Here are 10 quick and cheap ways to improve your home energy efficiency.
Program Your Thermostat and Check the Water Heater
If your home doesn’t already have a programmable thermostat, it’s a great investment that will save you a ton of money on energy bills. Even if you do have one, you might not be using it to its fullest potential. Take the time to set the temperature to be cooler or warmer in a way that matches your schedule. Even changing the temperature one degree cooler or warmer than you’re used to can make a big difference with energy use. Also, make sure your water heater temperature is at 120 degrees Fahrenheit at the most. Hotter temperatures can be dangerous and waste energy to maintain.
Insulation is crucial for keeping your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer, but most homes in the United States aren’t built with enough insulation. Rolls of insulation are sold at any hardware store and are easy to install. Add insulation to the walls and ceiling of your attic and wrap your hot water pipes and hot water tank. There are pre-cut jackets for these tasks that can make it even easier.
Fix Drafts and Leaks
Even the tiniest draft or leak can cause expensive energy and money loss over time. Look for leaks around windows and doors, and use caulk or weather stripping to cover up any problem areas you find. Also check air ducts and use duct tape to fix up any leaks.
Install Low Flow Fixtures
Low flow plumbing fixtures significantly reduce water usage. Change out your sink, toilet, and shower head fixtures so that you consume less water with every use.
Switch to Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs
Compact fluorescent bulbs are more efficient and last longer than incandescent bulbs. Pick up some compact fluorescent light bulbs at the store and have them on hand to switch out for your old ones as they run out.
Use Ceiling Fans
The airflow caused by ceiling fans improves the cooling efficiency of your home. They are easy to install and readily available at most hardware stores. Keep in mind that the cooling of fans only affects people with a wind-chill effect. They don’t actually make the room cooler, so turn them off when no one is in the room.
Unplug Devices or Use Power Strips
Even if you turn off an appliance or other electrical device, they still leech some electricity from the outlet. The only guaranteed way to make sure that you aren’t losing power unnecessarily is to unplug the devices when you aren’t using them. If you have a group of devices that need to be unplugged at the same time, instead you can plug them into a power strip and turn it off when you don’t need to use them.
Replace Filters and Clean Vents
When filters and vents are clogged up, it reduces appliance efficiency significantly. Make sure you replace your air conditioner filters regularly, especially if you have hairy pets. Also make sure you clean out your dryer vent. Not only does a full dryer vent increase the amount of energy it takes to dry your clothes, but it is also a fire hazard. You can use a vacuum to make the job easier.
Create More Shade
Shade is a big deal when it comes to keeping an area cool. There are several ways you can make more shade around your house. On the outside, you can plant trees or add a canopy. For the inside, add more blinds or curtains to the windows. Not only do curtains keep the hot sun from getting inside, but they also help retain heat in the winter.
Get a Rain Barrel
Rain barrels collect rainwater from your house’s runoff. They are easily attached to your existing gutter system. This water can be used for watering your lawn and garden and reducing the amount of water you have to pay for. Before you install a rain barrel, however, make sure it’s legal to install one in your neighborhood, since some areas are picky about what you can and can’t attach to the outside of your house.
If you use even a couple of these tips, you will increase the energy and/or water efficiency of your home, saving you money in the long run. If you want more DIY home maintenance projects, check out Complete Home Protection’s other blogs such as the Spring Maintenance Checklist.