One of the best things, to many frugal individuals, about living a more energy efficient life is that you are not only minimizing your carbon footprint but also saving money on your household utility bills. When you add together a variety of energy saving tips and put them to work in your own home and life, the savings can quickly start adding up.
Creating an energy efficient home can be accomplished with small changes to your daily routine, minor changes to your home, or slightly more costly steps that – while financially daunting to implement initially – will gradually pay for themselves many times over. In addition to paying for themselves, quite a few tips also pay off with the aforementioned savings on your utility bills as well as conservation of the dwindling resources our planet has to offer. You will also have the personal satisfaction of knowing that you are being proactive and making a change, no matter how small, to preserve and protect our planet and environment.
Are you ready? Here, divided into categories for easy reference, are 74 ways you can create a more energy efficient home.
Cooking and Food Storage
If you are cooking on the stove top, use pots and pans with copper-coated bottoms. Copper bottom cookware heats more efficiently which means it requires less cooking time. Just do not forget to adjust your timing to compensate for the quicker cooking methods.
Prepare of cook food in a convection or microwave oven rather than a traditional oven. Both us less electricity than a traditional over and cook food faster (though not always taste better), reducing the amount of energy using for fixing your meals.
If you do not have a glass window on your over door, resist the temptation to keep checking your oven cooked foods by opening the oven door. Each time you open the door to check on your food, you are causing the over to lose 30 to 70 degrees of heat. The oven has to use more energy to return to the correct cooking temperature (and your food takes longer to cook).
Use pots and pans on the stove top that are the right size for the burner. Cookware that is smaller than the burner ring will waste a great deal of heat and electricity. Over-sized cookware on a too small burner ring will take much longer than necessary to cook, again wasting heat and electricity.
Do not let that extra refrigerator or freezer sit unused in the garage, utility rook, or other location in your home while it consumes electricity to cool absolutely nothing. Unplug it and save energy until you actually need the appliance for food storage purposes.
Keep your refrigerator and freezer as stocked as possible, but avoid over stuffing the appliances with food items. Fridges and freezers with too many items can reduce air flow around the food, preventing the appliance from adequately cooling your groceries. If you maintain a well stocked fridge or freezer, the cooled or frozen items will help keep the surrounding food cold, which reduces the energy needed to maintain the desired temperature in the appliance.
If you will be using the self cleaning option on your oven, do so immediately after cooking. This will minimize the warm-up time needed for the cleaning cycle to attain the necessary temperature.
Cleaning and Laundry Chores.
When using your dishwasher, run the wash cycle only and turn the machine off after washing is complete. Let your dishes air-dry to avoid using electricity for the process.
Washing dishes by hand? Do not do so under a continuous stream of water. Fill up your sink and turn the water off while you are scrubbing dishes.
Make sure the lint screen on your clothes dryer is free of debris. Even a small coating of lint on the filter can dramatically reduce your dryers’s effectiveness, which means you will have to run another drying cycle to get your clothes dry.
Whenever possible, dry your clothes on an outside clothes line or rack. Not only will your clothes smell amazing, but you will also save quite a bit of energy that would of been consumed for drying cycles.
Wash clothes in cold water. Contrary to popular belief, cold water cleans just as thoroughly as hot water.
Avoid doing half-loads of laundry, which means your washing machine will be used much more frequently. Save energy and time by only washing clothes when you have a full load.
If you can dry multiple load of clothing one after the other. This will prevent the dryer from completely cooling down and will reduce the drying time needed to dry your clothes and reduce the amount of energy the task consumer, as well.
Do not overload your clothes dryer. Doing so will increase the amount of time it takes for the load of clothes to dry, possibly requiring a second drying cycle, and increases your energy consumption for the common household chore.
Try to shorten your showers as much as possible to minimize the amount of hot water you are using.
Speaking of showers – choose a shower over a bath because it uses less water (hot water, that is).
While you are showing instead of bathing and taking shorter showers rather than long luxurious ones, consider installing a low-flow shower head to conserve water. These shower heads use much less water while still providing adequate pressure.
If you want to get fancy, pick a low-flow shower head with a “pause” option, which lets you stop the water flow altogether while you are lathering, shaving, or shampooing.
When you notice ice starting to build up in your freezer, defrost it immediately. A coating of ice inside the freezer causes the appliance to use more electricity to keep foods cold. If the freeze constantly re-freezes each time you defrost it, check the door seals to make sure there are no cracks, gaps, or damage where cold air could be escaping.
As you should avoid opening the over door to see if your food is finished cooking, so should you also avoid opening the refrigerator door and staring into it, trying to figure out what you want to eat or drink. Decide what you want from the fridge before opening it so you are letting as little cold air escape as possible.
Check the door seals on your refrigerator and freeze for air leads and, if you find any, have them repaired as soon as possible. A neat trick for checking the seals is to close a dollar bills in the door and try to pull it out. If the bills slides out easily, the seals need to be thoroughly cleaned or completely replaced.
If you are in the market for a new or replacement appliances, look for ones that are ENERGY STAR certified. This type of appliance meets specific guidelines and requirements for the highest level of energy efficiency.
Most water heaters are factory-set or set by the installation technician up to 140 degrees. You can turn the temperature down to 120 degrees and still have plenty of hot water for all your household needs, while saving energy in the process.
Add an insulation blanket to your water heater, especially if it is stored in an unheated garage or other unheated space. The insulation blanket will help the water heater keep the stored water hot until it is needed for cleaning, cooking, washing, or bathing.
Insulate the hot water conduit pipes leading from your water heater to your house’s faucets and water fixtures, especially it – like the water heater itself – these pipes pass through unheated parts of you home (garage, crawlspace, sub-floor, etc.).
Make sure the vent on your clothes dryer is properly venting heated air to the outside of your home. Check the vent hose periodically to make sure it is securely connected and has no visible damage. You should also have the vent line cleaned thoroughly at least once a year from the point where the hose connects to the dryer all the way to the outside of your house. Moistened lint can easily cling to and build up along the inside of the dryer’s exhaust line, which may eventually lead to a complete blockage (causing heated and humid air to be directed into your house rather than outside it).
Inspect the pip connections to your water heater at least once a year, to make sure none of them are leaking. If hot water is constantly draining from the water heater, the appliance will constantly operate – thus using more energy – to keep re-heating water. Check all the hot water supply lines that lead into your home from the water heater, too.
If any hot water pipes leading away from your water heater pass through unheated spaces in your home, have the pipes insulated. This will help keep the water hotter longer, which will reduce the amount of hot water required for your cleaning, cooking, or bathing needs.
While if may be a daunting expense, give some serious thought to investing in a tankless water heater. This type of water heater is especially useful for families and it consumes substantially less energy than a traditional water heater. You may even qualify for a tax rebates or other credit for making such a significant and energy-efficient modification to your home.
Electronics Gadgets, Appliances, and Devices
Unplug your charges when they are not in use. Many people do not realize that a charger, even if it is not actively charging an electronic device, still consumes a small amount of electricity.
Instead of using a screen saves for your computer’s sleep mode, actually put it to sleep and turn off the monitor when you are not using it.
Do not use a portable heater at all if you can avoid doing so. Not only can these heaters be extremely dangerous when left unattended, but they use an extraordinary amount of electricity.
Invest in a humidifier. During winter and summer, it will help you feel warmer or cooler by moistening the air (winter) and you skin (summer).
HVAC (Heating and Cooling) System
Before firing up your HVAC system at the beginning of summer or winter, have the equipment inspected and serviced by a professional technician. He or she can let you know the condition of your equipment, if anything is in immediate need of repairs or replacement, and provide preventative maintenance servicing to keep your HVAC unite in optimal operating condition.
Have the ductwork inspected at least twice a year, or do it yourself. If you do a DIY inspection of the ventilation ducts, look for damage and any signs of cracks or gaps in the ducts and ductwork. If you do find damage that can contribute to air loss or poor air circulation, have the faulty section repaired or replaced promptly.
During the inspection of your ductwork, especially if you do it yourself, check all the air vents in your hose to make sure they are not blocked by furniture, curtains, or other obstacles. When air flow is restricted due to blocked vents, this can cause your heating and cooling equipment to overwork to maintain your desired comfort level.
Never turn the fan setting on your thermostat to the “on” position; always leave it at “auto.” The automatic setting will permit your heating and cooling equipment to operate when needed to adjust them temperature in your home, while the “on” setting requires the equipment to operate constantly.
Check and change or clean you HVAC filters at least once a month. If the filters are dirty or covered with a thin coating of dust, this can cause you HVAC system to work harder to circulate air through your home.
Make sure the drain line can diminish the functionality of the system and, in addition to increasingly energy use and expense, eventually cause the premature failure of the unit or various HVAC components.
If you have a professional service technician inspect your HVAC (which is recommended at least twice a year), have the technician evaluate the operating efficiency of the unit based on its size. An HVAC unit that is too small to efficiently heat and or cool your home will have to work continuously to keep up with your comfort needs. If the unit is too small for your living space, consider investing in one that has the proper capacity.
Have a programmable thermostat installed in your home. A programmable thermostat gives you more control over when your HVAC unit is operational and for how long, based on predetermined settings you select for various times of the day. An example of this would be to lover the temperature via the programming features while you will be sleeping each night.
Do not place heat-producing electronics directly beneath your thermostat. The heat generated by these items can cause an inaccurate temperature reading and result in the unnecessary operation of your heating or cooling equipment.
For those of you with a forced-air furnace or air circulation system, do not close of the heat registers in unused rooms (despite recommendations to do so). Forced air furnaces are designed to circulate air through a designated amount of space and will continue operating at the same capacity whether the heat registers are open or close. Furthermore, the cold air in those closed rooms can still escape in the rest of your house, which can negate your energy-saving efforts.
Home Lighting, Electrical Fixtures, and Electrical Wiring
Turn ceiling fans off when you are not in the room. Ceiling fans do not actually cool a room, they cool you, so having them running when you are not around to benefit from the air circulation only creates unnecessary energy consumption and utility costs.
Adjust your ceiling fans to turn counter-clockwise during the cooler months to circulate warm air down from the ceiling and around the room. Make sure you switch the fans back to a clockwise rotation during the summer to efficiently circulate the cooled air.
If you have chandeliers or multi-bulb light fixtures in your home, consider swapping the bulbs out for more energy-efficient ones with lower wattage. You can also use fewer bulbs in the fixture to reduce energy consumption when illuminating a room.
Instead of using “always on” or “dusk to dawn” exterior flood lights or security lights on your home, use motion activated lighting.
Check the places on your walls where electrical wiring passes through to make sure there are no air leaks. Electrical outlets, for example, are a common sources of air leaks and can easily be sealed with insulated padding on the back of the outlet cover or by using foam insulation.
Stop using traditional, inefficient incandescent light bulbs and switch to compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), LED lighting, or another type of energy efficient bulb. CFLs, LED lighting, and new incandescent (energy-efficient) bulbs not us less energy but typically last much longer than traditional bulbs.
Whether you decorate with string lighting only on holidays or all year long in special rooms and spaces like the patio or recreational room, use high efficient LED lighting rather than traditional sting lighting. In addition to using much less energy for illumination, LED lights are also cool to touch, which means they will not burn the fingers of curious children during the holidays.
Inspect the hearth and all areas where the fireplace chimney meets the interior and exterior walls of your home to make sure there are no air leaks. If you do find any leaks, seal them as soon as possible.
Turn the thermostat down several degrees when are using your fireplace during the winder. The fireplace will provide enough heat to compensate for the adjusted thermostat setting.
Investing in glass doors and a blower for your fireplace is a great way to push more warm air into the house and minimize the need for supplemental heat from your HVAC system. A blower not only provides more warm air for your living spaces but also significantly decreases the amount of warmed air that gets “wasted” up the chimney.
Where you are using the fireplace, make sure the keep the damper firmly closed to prevent air loss through the chimney.
If your fireplace is purely decorative and never use it at all, have the chimney flue plugged and sealed to prevent air loss.
Additional Home Efficiency Items
Cinderblock and concrete walls are porous and can allow air to pass through, even if it is a small amount. If you have these type of walls in your home, make sure you have installed adequate insulation in the walls to minimize the loss of heated or cooled air.
Check all the doors and windows in your home for air leaks. These are easy to spot during very warm or cold days because you can feel the air passing through. The most common spots where air loss occurs is around the window jambs, especially at the bottom, and anywhere around the door jamb other than along the hinged side. Gaps can be sealed with weather striping of another type of insulation method. Alternatively, you can use painter’s tape, window tape, or other items that be removed without peeling the paint or leaving a sticky residue.
Storm windows and doors are a great investment for a couple of reasons. Not only do they dramatically improve energy efficiency of your home, but they increase the value of your house, as well. Storm windows and doors may also qualify you for tax credits or rebates for making your home more energy efficient.
For those who live in a more moderate climates with shorter winters and longer summers, give some thought to adding trees or high shrubs in front of windows that receive direct sunlight. The addition of trees or shrubs will provide natural shade and block the sunlight from adding unwanted heat to your living space. If a change to your landscaping is not a viable option, you can add awnings over your windows instead.
If you have an attic, crawlspace, basement, or other unheated interior area in your home, make sure the area is properly insulated to retain heated or cooled air and minimize air loss.
Evaluate your existing insulation to see if it needs to be supplemented. Most experts recommend that you have at least twelve inches of insulation in your attic, or that it is at least above the height of your support joists. The proper amount of insulation can save a moderate amount of energy simply by keeping heated and cooled air where it belong – inside your home.
Whether your attic space is usable or not, you have an attic space at all it needs to have ventilation of some type. Summer ventilation allows warm air to escape rather than overheating your home’s interior, and winter ventilation can help prevent the accumulation of inconvenient and potentially damaging ice dams of your roof.
When you are making plans to replace or upgrade your home’s roof, choose a roof material of finish with a lighter color. Lighting colors reflect the sun’s light rather than absorbing it.
Any attached garage can often be a big source or air loss. If you home has an attached garage, make sure all the doors and any windows are adequately sealed. Install a door sweep on the garage door if there are gaps between the door’s bottom edge and the garage’s concrete pad.
If you home has radiator heaters instead of central head and air, install heat reflector panels behind the radiators. This will reflect the heat outward toward the room rather than unnecessarily heating the wall behind the heater.
Use the kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans as little as possible.
Turn off lights and electronic items (computer monitor, television set, stereo, etc.) When you leave a room or are no longer using the fixture or item.
Add some decorative rugs to rooms that do have carpet or are unheated. Rugs help with heat retention and also keep your feet warmer if you are walking around the house barefoot or in socks or slippers.
If you will gone for most of the day or for several days at a time do not forget to turn off your HVAC unit completely off or adjust it be several degrees to reduce operation time. There is no need to heat or cool your home when no one is around to enjoy the benefits of a comfortable living space.
Keep the exterior windows and doors closed when you are heating or cooling your home. When do you need to go in or out, do not dawdle in the doorway and let heated or cooled air escape from your home.
When the outside temperature is lower then the inside temperature, open window to allow cooler air to pass through your home. Not only will this lower the temperature in your home without the need for air conditioning, but it will also freshen up the stale air that has built up over time.
If you have any window that receive direct sunlight, keep blinds or drapes open as much as possible during the winter and close during the summer. Open drapes during winter will the sunlight to add a few degrees of natural warmth to your rooms, while closed ones during the summer will prevent the sun from adding unwanted heat to your living space.
Your local utility company may, like many other, provide you with a home energy audit. These audits are often free of charge and are a great way to see if and where you may be using energy in a wasteful or unnecessary way. They can also give you some additional ideas for making improvement to various feature of your home to increase your energy efficiency.
This list gives you plenty of ideas for turning your house into an energy-efficient home. Many of these tips and tricks require very little effort and no expense at all. While others many require a small expenditure or a moderate investment. Regardless of whether you choose the quick, free, and easy path or decide to make a long-term changes that provide energy-efficient benefits for years to come, the most important part of the equation is you! By staying mindful of these tips and by taking a proactive approach to energy efficiency you could potentially save hundreds of dollars each month of your utility bills.