We’re living in the era of smart homes and cleantech, but in addition to all of these technological advancements there are some simple ways that you can easily improve a home’s energy efficiency. Here are some expert tips on how to make an existing home or even an apartment building more energy efficient.
- Seal leaks.
Get out your caulking gun because caulk may just be the killer app of energy efficiency. If you have drafty windows or doors, try sealing the air leaks with caulk. In addition, look into rubber gaskets to frame doorways and windows. You can find a wide array of window and door gaskets online that will make it easy and inexpensive to seal off any drafty openings to your home.
The home tips website DIY Network recommends insulating around the network of ducts and tubes in the wall, floors, and ceilings of your home or apartment building. These tubes carry the heat from your furnace and the cold air from your central air conditioner, and they are common areas where energy is lost. Sealing ducts in the attic or vented crawl spaces on your property will create a more comfortable environment for occupants while providing significant savings on your utility bill.
In addition, adding insulation in your attic will help keep the home at the correct temperature without losing excess energy.
- Close vents in rooms that are not in use.
If there are rooms in your house that you or your family don’t use much, close the vents. This will help you conserve energy, while properly heating or cooling those rooms you do occupy frequently.
- Consider adding storm doors and windows.
Storm doors and storm windows offer an extra layer of protection from the elements and they can go a long way in preventing energy loss. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), installing storm windows alone can save you up to 33% in heating and cooling costs.
- Install programmable thermostats.
Installing programmable thermostats will let you more precisely control appropriate temperatures when people are home, when they’re awake, when they’re sleeping, and also when they’re not in the house.
- Keep your heating and AC system maintained.
Like other appliances in your home, keeping your property’s heating and cooling systems well-maintained will ensure they’re running optimally. Plus, it’s the best way to get the maximum lifespan out of the system. Even just cleaning and changing filters will help your systems to operate more efficiently.
- Use windows coverings to help with solar temperature control.
Drapes and other window coverings can play a big role in keeping heat in or out of the home. If you want heat to stay in, you can open window coverings when the sun is shining in, but then close them one the sun starts going down. Conversely, if you want to keep a house cool, close the shades when the sun is shining through. In addition, white liners will help reflect vs. absorbs the sun’s rays.
- Use energy efficient light bulbs.
LED, halogen, and compact fluorescent light bulbs all last longer and are more energy efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs. Plus, they don’t get as hot. Today, you can get energy efficient light bulbs that emit soft hues and come in a variety of colors.
- Use power strips and turn off appliance and phone chargers when not in use.
The DOE calls them “energy vampires”: the appliances in every room of your house that are not being used but that are plugged in to an outlet and sucking energy. The DOE estimates that the average U.S. household spends up to $200 in utility bills per year on appliances that are plugged in but not in use. Installing power strips makes it easy to turn off a few appliances at once so you can save on your energy bill.
- Use Energy Star appliances.
Energy Star is a U.S. government-backed program that provides simple, credible, and unbiased information that helps consumers and businesses learn about a wide array of energy efficient products, building practices, and more. To date, the program has saved American hundreds of billions of dollars in energy costs. Energy Star certified appliances use up to 50% less energy than non-Energy Star versions.
- Lower your water heater temperature and use insulation around the water tank.
Lowering the temperature on your water heater is an energy saver, and your family may not even notice you turned the temperature down. In addition, the DIY Network suggests insulating the water storage tank with a specially-designed water heater blanket will help the water heater be more energy efficient.
- Wash clothes in cold or warm water instead of hot and use full loads.
Many people don’t realize that your clothes will get perfectly clean when washed with cold or warm water instead of hot. Since much of the energy that your washer uses is to heat the water, just washing in colder temperatures can net out to significant energy savings. In addition, only washing your clothes when you have a full load will save even more energy and water.
- Install low-flow shower heads.
Installing low-flow shower heads is an easy way to reduce water usage and save on water costs. Taking shorter showers also helps!
- Consider installing solar panels.
Installing solar panels can be a great investment for the long term. You can save money on utility bills and take advantage of tax benefits. Currently, the tax credit is 30% of qualified expenses on panels. You can get more information at Energy.gov or consult with your tax advisor.
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