8 Ways to Improve Your Home's Energy Efficiency  


 

Homeowners know that maintaining a home year-round, especially in fluctuating climates, can take a major toll on the wallet. Energy-hogging electronics, appliances and lighting can weigh down your energy bills significantly and put undue strain on your home’s infrastructure, not to mention the planet. Luckily, there are several simple things you can do to improve your home’s energy efficiency, from swapping out those old and costly incandescent light bulbs for hyper-efficient LED lights to changing the way you block out natural light in the bedroom. Here are some of the easiest ways to boost your home’s efficiency.

  1. Install an Efficient Ceiling Fan—The biggest contributor to an inefficient home is a taxed, energy-hogging HVAC system. Installing an efficient ceiling fan can reduce energy consumption in two primary ways. First, it can help cool down a room, lessening the burden on your air conditioning system. Second, as long as it features the Energy Star designation and uses LED lights, it will draw significantly less energy than your old and outdated ceiling fans. These days, ceiling fans are designed to draw less energy while providing more power and light, so an upgrade may definitely be in order!

  2. Switch to LED Lights—Speaking of LED lights, did you know that, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, LED lights can use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescents? Not only that, but LED light bulbs last much longer than their old-school counterparts, with lifespans of up to 25,000 hours. Compare that to the average lifespan of a 60-watt traditional incandescent—about 1,000 hours—and it’s obvious: It’s got to be LED! You’ll see the savings in your energy bill in no time when you upgrade all of your home’s lights to LEDs.

  3. Look for the Energy Star Logo—The Energy Star program was developed by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency to inform the public about energy efficient products. The Energy Star label can only be added to products that meet a certain criteria as it pertains to improving energy efficiency. For example, only refrigerators that provide a 20 percent savings in energy over the minimum standard can be Energy Star certified. Dishwashers must provide at least 41 percent savings! Indeed, making these upgrades will save you money and help to reduce your carbon footprint significantly. It’s a win-win.

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  1. Upgrade Your Insulation—We need the most energy in our homes for heating and cooling. And when these systems are overused, they work harder, consuming more energy and requiring more maintenance over time. It’s extremely important that you do your best to minimize the strain on your HVAC system year-round. One great way to do that is to upgrade your home’s insulation so that it better seals out cold air in the winter and hot air in the summer. Heat loss and heat gain primarily occur in a home’s roof, ceilings, walls and floors, so anything you can do to prevent this from happening in these spots will help reduce your energy use.

  2. Replace Your Filters—Who knew that replacing your furnace filter, air filter, HVAC filter and other filters in your home could equal energy savings? It’s true! Make sure to change your filters every month during heavy-use months, especially in the winter and summer. This is especially important because, if a filter isn’t clear, it will slow down the airflow and make a system work harder to maintain your home’s temperature. On the other hand, if the filter is clean, airflow moves easily and your HVAC systems work exactly as they should.

  3. Consider Wood-Burning Stoves—What if, rather than burning fuel for heat, you could use a widely available, renewable resource for the same result? That’s what happens when you install a wood-burning stove! While most people don’t want to heat their homes 100 percent of the time with a wood-burning stove, the occasional fire can help reduce your fuel and energy consumption significantly. Make sure to pick an EPA-certified wood stove if you’re concerned about the environment. These kinds of stoves must produce less than 4.5 grams of smoke per hour.

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  1. Look for the WaterSense Label—Just as the EPA has developed the Energy Star program for electricity, it has also created a program called WaterSense, which certifies products that save water without sacrificing performance. When you’re shopping for toilets, showerheads, bathroom faucets and other items that require water use, always make sure to choose the WaterSense label to ensure that you’re not putting a strain on the Earth’s resources or weighing down your water bill. On the same note, consider installing a low-flow showerhead to save even more water.

  2. Install Blackout Curtains—Another great way to help regulate temperature without drawing energy is installing blackout curtains. These window coverings feature thick, light-blocking fabrics that shield out the hot sun, ensuring that your environment stays cool–even on hot days. Of course, the cooler your environment, the less you’ll need to run energy-sucking air conditioning units, so you’ll save some significant dough here. Contrary to popular belief, blackout curtains don’t have to be black. They’re often lined in light-blocking materials but feature attractive exteriors that face the room.

Cutting Down on Energy

Lowering your personal energy consumption is important for your home’s budget and the sustainability of the Earth. Making a few small changes—replacing a light bulb here, emptying a filter there—can go a long way when it comes to reducing your energy bill and carbon footprint. Using eco-friendly products can transform your home from an inefficient energy hog to a well-oiled smart home in no time!

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