In this 2-part series, Greening Your Home, you’ll learn ways to make your home more energy-efficient while also saving you money in the long run. This 2nd article lists some simple ways you can save energy in your home. Caring about the environment and being “green” can be easier than you think as a homeowner. You can start today!
Believe it or not, even small changes in your home can have an impact on your energy use (and your bills!). Many can be easy to implement and are inexpensive too.
Even though it’s recommended to have an energy audit by a professional, as discussed in last week’s article, Why Every Homeowner Should Do an Energy Audit, you don’t have to wait to save energy with some simple modifications. But remember that an audit will give you direction on some of the bigger energy issues with your home.
Here are some easy DIY fixes that you can do today or over a weekend to make your home more energy efficient.
1. Get a Programmable Thermostat.
If you don’t have one of these already, then this is a must-do. It allows you to schedule your home’s temperature automatically, depending on your daily routine – increasing when getting up, decreasing when you’re at work, increasing when you come home, and decreasing when you head to bed.
There are so many product selections out there with high-tech features, so do some research and find what works best for you. You’ll save money heating and cooling your home at the right times for you and your family. And prices have come down so you should find one in your price range.
Some power providers will even provide the thermostat and install it for free! You can check out ComEd’s program for Chicago residents here.
2. Switch to a Smart Power Strip for Electronics.
It’s time to leave your old power strips in the dust, and look into a “smart” power strip. Who doesn’t see all the glowing lights from electronics when you turn off a room’s light. That’s energy being used for no good reason!
The traditional power strips probably have encouraged you to keep many of your electronics plugged in constantly, using power even when you’re not using them as they wait in standby mode. Smart strips will shut down power to products on standby mode and save you 5 to 10% of your energy consumption.
3. Install the Correct Light Bulbs for Your Needs.
With the use of incandescent bulbs a memory now, buying light bulbs can be confusing! Before you go to the store (and pay for new bulbs), make sure you understand the differences between LEDs, CFLs, and Halogens so you don’t waste money on the wrong bulb.
When buying these bulbs, you don’t look at just wattage anymore – now you need to look at lumens, color temperature, and dimmability – all depending on your application. It sounds like a lot, but the payoff is worth it!
The technology keeps changing and improving compared to the earlier ones, so you might find one you like better now. Since these light bulbs can last longer and are more expensive, make sure the manufacturer has a good refund or exchange program if something does go wrong.
4. Hang Laundry on a Clothes Drying Rack.
Hanging clothes to dry may seem like you’re back in pioneer days but try it. Get in the habit of hanging some of your clothes on a foldable drying rack rather than in the dryer. Your clothes, your utility bill, and the environment will thank you!
This can help you cut down on the number of loads you put in the dryer each week – which translates to less electricity used.
If you have a patio or porch, you can put your rack outside for even quicker drying. (Or get a traditional clothesline to go old school!)
5. Install Ceiling Fans
Some decorators hate the look of ceiling fans, but they actually can help your rooms stay cooler or warmer. There are more trendy and stylish designs to choose from now that could blend in with your rooms so don’t cross this off your list!
Fans can be a low-energy way to keep air circulating so you can keep your temperature set higher in the summer and lower in the winter.
Just remember to have the fans reversed in the winter so the air is pulled upwards and away from you.
6. Insulate Exposed Water Pipes.
Wrap your hot water pipes in the basement or garage with pipe insulation so they don’t lose heat as the water makes its way to your faucets. It can make a two-to-four-degree difference.
Check the pipes coming out of the hot water heater and insulate at least the first three feet.
7. Double Check Vents.
Walk around your home and make sure you’re not blocking your air vents with furniture or piles of stuff. You want this air flow to circulate efficiently to avoid having the heating and cooling blowing constantly. Also get them dust-free too.
If you must cover the vents, try to figure out a way to redirect the airflow. You can buy plastic deflectors that can help keep the air flowing where you need it…
8. Plant a Tree
It sounds simple and it can be simple. Having a shade tree can help cool your home during hot summers, especially if the sun is shining directly on your roof.
You’ll feel the difference since it can be 10% cooler in the shade. You and your home will be much happier since less AC will need to be cranking. And with less direct sunlight on your home, you’ll save energy costs.
Don’t forget about energy tax credits that many cities and states offer when you do any energy improvements.
Let me know if you have any questions about these easy energy saving tips!
I'm Mike and I love helping buyers discover what's really important in their forever home, then working to find that in Chicago's
Northwest Suburbs. I also have a soft spot in my heart for teachers and love giving back to them whenever I can. Let me know how I can help you make your real estate dreams come true.
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