How to make your house more energy efficient
- Katherine D. Rodriguez
Spending a little money or doing months of renovations is okay to improve your home’s efficiency.
Changing your daily habits can save money and make your home more comfortable.
Take care of your furnace
Older models can be improved to make them more energy efficient. The first step is to have your furnace serviced annually by a professional. This includes cleaning parts you cannot see or reach and ensuring the furnace is not working harder than necessary. If you have done renovations, or if your home has pets, replace filters every three months to ensure air flows easily into your unit. This will also extend the life of your furnace.
Wrap the water heater
Water heaters that heat water only when needed are the most energy-efficient. Wrap electric hot water tanks in an insulating cover to reduce heat loss.
Joints in the ductwork can allow hot air to escape. This means you are paying for heat in places you don’t need (for example, an unfinished cellar) but not receiving heat where you want it (upper-floor rooms). You can help by applying heating-vent tape at all visible joints.
Test Windows and Doors
You’ll save energy heating and cooling the home if you have an airtight seal. Holding a lit incense or candle near window frames and doorways will reveal any drafts. You have a breeze if it flickers. Install or replace weatherstripping and add a door sweep. In the colder months, exterior window films will improve efficiency.
Use ceiling fans
Ceiling fans can cool down bedrooms but only part of your home, especially at night. Most fans have a reverse option which pushes warm air into the room.
Learn how to adjust your ceiling fan for each season.
Use large appliances at night
All three appliances use great energy and run for long periods. Try to shift your schedule if you’re on time-of-use rates. Wash clothes or dishes at night or on weekends. Consider using the air-dry feature on your dishwasher and washing your clothes on a shorter wash cycle.
Install a clothesline
Up to 6% of the total energy used in a home can be attributed to dryers. When possible, hang your clothes outdoors during warm months.
Clean large appliances
The motors will work harder and use more energy if the exhaust vents at the rear of your refrigerator or clothes dryer are clogged. Vacuum these areas at least twice a year.
Intelligent thermostats can cut your heating and cooling bills by as much as 15%. It works by learning your habits and automatically adjusting the temperatures. A smart thermostat, for example, will change the temperature automatically if, at 10 pm, you usually lower it before bed. A smart thermostat can be controlled via an app, whether at home or away. If your schedule suddenly changes, you can still maintain your heating and cooling expenses from your phone.
You can also save money by automating your lighting. Install motion sensors and dimmer switches for lights that will turn off the lights when you leave the area.
Fight phantom power consumption
Plug-in electronic appliances and countertop appliances into a power strip and set it to turn off at night. TVs, cable boxes, and PVRs drain energy even when not in use. It’s easy to turn them off immediately before everyone sleeps if connected to a power bar.
Watch out for the Chargers
Even when there is no device attached, chargers continue to draw energy. Unplug the charger once your phone, tablet, or other device is fully charged. It will continue to draw power if not.
Energy audits are an excellent investment
A professional can help you save money and improve your home after you have done all you can.