Energy-Efficient Home Upgrades: Green Is In!

If we all made just one or two energy-efficient adjustments, the Earth, our communities, and even our energy bills would benefit.
If we all made just one or two energy-efficient adjustments, the Earth, our communities, and even our energy bills would benefit.

If we all made just one or two energy-efficient adjustments, the Earth, our communities, and even our energy bills would benefit.

If you want to make tiny modifications but aren’t sure what to do, here are several energy-efficient home improvement ideas. (Both low-cost and high-cost adjustments are listed.)

1. Lowering your thermostat saves energy.

Reduce your thermostat’s temperature while away from home. Reduce the temperature by 3 to 5 degrees to save money and energy. According to Energy.gov, turning down your thermostat by 10 to 15 degrees during the workday saves 5 to 15% annually.

2. Building a compost pile minimizes waste.

Composting doesn’t take up a lot of space in your backyard. Compost is made from organic waste that decomposes over time. Your food waste can create valuable fertilizer for your lawn or garden. In addition, it minimizes your daily trash output.

3. Save energy and water with low-flow showerheads.

Installing low-flow showerheads saves water. Low-flow showerheads use less than 2.5 GPM, while most conventional showerheads use 5 GPM.

4. Close windows when you can.

Seal the air leaks in and around your home‘s windows. If your windows are drafty, add weatherstripping. Apply a bead of silicone caulk to drywall crevices and a sheet of shrink film to windows. Sealing gaps and fractures is a simple and cheap approach to saving energy.

5. Energy-efficient space heaters are a must.

While electric and gas space heaters keep your feet warm in the winter, they aren’t the most energy-efficient. Many space heaters use 1500 watts of power and are considered a waste of electricity. Invest in an energy-efficient space heater. In addition, consider layering clothing or blankets instead of cranking up the thermostat.

6. Turn off the water.

The EPA estimates that a typical homeowner can save $170 per year by making simple modifications to their water usage. Be aware of running water when brushing or shaving. Also, bathing uses 75 gallons of water against 17.2 gallons for a shower. Avoid washing half-loads of laundry. A full load means more garments may be washed at once. This saves water, energy, and money.

7. Go green with your light bulbs and save energy, too.

In 2014, 60-watt and 40-watt incandescent light bulbs were phased out (100-watt and 75-watt bulbs were already phased out.) However, we are not doomed to darkness. Halogen, CFL, and LED lights last longer and use less energy than incandescent bulbs. The average home consumes 40 bulbs, so upgrading to greener bulbs might save you money.

8. Unplug unused chargers.

Unused phone and battery chargers are known as energy vampires. According to Energy.gov, an idle charger uses 0.26 watts while a connected charger uses 2.24 watts. One charger won’t do much, but altogether, energy vampires can account for 10% of your energy bill. Remove chargers while not in use.

9. Think energy-efficient and use less hot water.

When feasible, use cold or warm water instead of hot. According to recent studies, your washer uses 90% of its energy to heat water and 10% to run. Using colder water for every load can save a lot of energy.

10. Save energy by insulating your attic.

Adding attic insulation can help seal air leaks and reduce heating and cooling costs. The amount of attic insulation required varies depending on your home’s size and climate. However, according to recent research, the average cost is $1,356.

11. Install energy-efficient solar panels.

Solar panels are becoming a popular technique to heat water and generate electricity for houses. Why use solar panels? In addition to helping you save money on energy bills, they may help you qualify for annual tax breaks. Installations on your roof save you money by generating energy independently of your utility company.

12. Add a storm door.

Even if you already have an energy-efficient front or side door, a storm door adds an extra layer of weather protection. The U.S. Department of Energy claims that low-emissivity glass or a protective coating on storm doors can assist reduce energy loss by up to 50%. Storm doors typically last 25-50 years and cost $75 or less.

13. Take an energy audit.

Consider hiring a professional energy auditor to assess your home’s inefficiencies and lost energy. A qualified and skilled auditor will assess your house to find savings and improvement options. Auditors usually charge per square foot or per hour.

14. Buy energy star items.

Items marked with the Energy Star label meet strict EPA energy efficiency standards. Green appliances that are Energy Star rated utilize 10-50 percent less energy than normal appliances. If you’re about to replace an appliance, look into Energy Star products.

15. Tune up your AC.

An annual heating and cooling tune-up ensure top efficiency, saving you money every month. Additionally, a home heating and cooling checkup boosts performance by tightening connections, lubricating equipment, and cleaning coils. Tuning up your HVAC system might also save you money on a new furnace ($2,000-$8,000).

16. Replacing your desktop can save energy.

Most experts recommend replacing your PC every four years. Accordingly, consider a laptop as a replacement for your desktop computer. According to SmallBusinessChron.com, laptops save up to 80% on electricity. Laptops typically draw 60 watts at their peak, whereas most desktops draw roughly 175 watts. Of course, laptops aren’t cheap, but they’re greener.

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