Making your home more energy-efficient might sound like a big undertaking, but it is a lot easier than you might think.
There are several minor changes you can make to/within your home that will improve your energy efficiency.
Energy-efficient practices and/or products use less energy to perform the same task. For example, a LED light bulb uses less energy but produces the same amount of light.
The benefits are vast as energy efficiency reduces greenhouse gas emissions, reduces electricity demand, and saves you money on your energy bills.
11 Ways to Make Your Home More Energy-Efficient
For anything that uses energy, there is an opportunity to improve its efficiency.
There are two ways to improve energy efficiency, one is by purchasing products that will improve energy efficiency (e.g. smart thermostat) and the other is through improvements to your home’s infrastructure or changing habits (e.g. adding insulation or turning off the lights when you leave a room).
The average household spends nearly $1,900 annually on energy bills, which could be reduced by over 24% (or $450) by upgrading to energy-efficient products and making minor improvements/adjustments to your home.
Here are some general tips to help make your home more energy-efficient.
1. Conduct a Home Energy Assessment
Home energy assessments are conducted by certified professionals. A professional home energy assessment allows homeowners to better understand where their home is losing energy and why.
The professional assessor will generate a comprehensive report that summarizes the characteristics of your home.
The report will also provide recommendations for energy-efficient upgrades or actions that will help you save energy and money on your energy bills. Depending on where you live, there may be energy rebates associated with certain energy-efficient upgrades.
The professional should be able to advise you on what rebates are available and how to claim them.
2. Buy Energy Star Certified Products
Energy Star is an internationally recognized and trusted symbol representing high efficiency that is backed by many governments (e.g. United States and Canada). It means the product, new home, building, or industrial facility has been certified as energy-efficient.
The Energy Star label was made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by the inefficient use of energy and to make it easier for consumers to identify and purchase energy-efficient products.
An Energy Star dishwasher uses 12% less energy, an Energy Star fridge uses 10% less energy, an Energy Star washing machine uses 25% less energy and 33% less water, an Energy Star dryer uses 20% less energy and an Energy Star certified television uses 25% less energy than conventional appliances.
3. Reduce Standby Power Consumption
Believe it or not, appliances and other electronics draw power/electricity when they are plugged in whether or not they are being used.
It is estimated that standby power consumption accounts for anywhere from five to 10 percent of your monthly electricity bill.
You can reduce your standby power consumption by using smart power bars, unplugging electronics when they are not in use, and using smart home devices.
4. Clean Large Appliances
Performing regular maintenance and cleaning your large appliances can not only help extend their lifespan but can also help them run more efficiently. For example, cleaning the condenser coils on your fridge/freeze on a regular basis can save you up to $500 over a 10–15-year period.
Similarly, making sure your stovetop burners and reflectors are clean will help you conserve energy as a dirty reflector will absorb more heat rather than reflecting it back to the cooking pot or pan bottom.
If an appliance is dirty or the filter is trapped with lint, pet hair or other debris, it will have to work harder to get the same result.
A lot of new large appliances, such as dishwashers or washing machines, have built-in clean cycles that you can run regularly. Scheduling or performing regular maintenance and cleaning will go a long way in ensuring that your appliances are working as efficiently as possible.
5. Switch Your Light Bulbs
Switching to LED light bulbs is one of the easiest things you can do to improve your home’s energy efficiency.
LED light bulbs use 70-90% less energy than an incandescent light bulb and provide the same amount of light. Not only do they save energy but they are safer because they emit very little heat, reducing the risk of combustion or burnt fingers, they are sturdier and less likely to break, and long-lasting.
A LED light bulb can last 3 to 5 times longer than a compact fluorescent lamp and 30 times longer than an incandescent light bulb.
6. Use Smart Thermostats
Smart thermostats are Wi-Fi enabled devices that automatically adjust heating and cooling temperatures in your home for optimal performance. They can be controlled with a phone, tablet, or any other internet-connected device.
Smart thermostats typically allow you to schedule your desired temperature setting, while adapting to your schedule and habits (e.g. the thermostat knows when you are not home).
Smart thermostats save energy and money because they cool and heat the home only when necessary by learning about your habits and schedule. They will prompt you to adopt more energy-efficient practices and will provide reminders of when it is time to perform regular maintenance on your furnace.
7. Perform a Furnace Maintenance
Performing regular maintenance on all major furnaces is a key to extending their lifespan but also ensures that they are operating as efficiently as possible. It is important to change or clean your furnace filter every three months or as needed to maintain efficiency.
Oil-fired furnaces need annual maintenance, while natural gas and propane furnaces should be serviced at least every two years. This may seem like another expense, but it will save you money and energy in the long term.
If you are in the market for a new furnace, it is best to look for an Energy Star-certified furnace that has an energy rating of at least 95% for gas and 85% for oil. Switching to an energy-efficient furnace can reduce your annual energy bill by up to 35%.
8. Switch to a Tankless Water Heater
Water heaters are a huge energy consumer as they use natural gas, electricity, fuel oil or propane to generate hot water.
Storage tank water heaters are usually between 30 to 60 gallons, which continuously heat all the water in the tank whether or not you need it all. The benefit is that you have hot water on demand, but it is costing you money in energy usage to keep all the water hot at all times.
A tankless water heater is not only more energy-efficient but also has a longer lifespan. It does not store water in a tank, instead, it heats the water as it passes through the unit. Heating water when you need it eliminates the standby energy losses you experience with a storage tank.
Tankless water heaters are also much smaller, saving you floor space and can fit in tight spaces. Tankless water heaters can be 24% to 34% more energy-efficient than conventional storage-tank water heaters.
9. Make a Home Improvement
Making larger-scale improvements can go a long way to making your home more energy-efficient. For example, if you have an older home, the windows are probably drafty, meaning that you are spending more energy to heat your home than if you had airtight windows.
With that said, just because your windows generate a draft, it does not necessarily mean you have to replace them. You can try caulking around the window frames, installing or replacing weatherstripping, or adding a door sweep.
During the winter, you can also apply exterior window film to help keep the cold air out. Replacing old windows with energy-efficient windows (e.g. double-glazing windows) will reduce heat exchange and air leaks.
While this will be a fairly steep cost upfront, energy-efficient windows will save you up to 50% on your energy bills, generating long-term savings.
10. Install Insulation in Your Home
Insulation plays an important role in the energy efficiency of your home. Proper insulation ensures that you don’t need to use as much energy to keep your house warm in the winter or cool in the summer.
Adding more insulation to an attic can also help to keep warm air inside during the colder months.
Installing insulation in the wall cavities and the roof helps to increase energy efficiency, as significantly less energy is required to heat the home than it would be without insulation.
Research shows that installing insulation in just 4 million homes – around 4% of the total number of homes in North America – removes the same amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere that is equivalent to almost 700 million trees.
If all parts of the United States that receive cold winters padded their homes with thick insulation walls, imagine the benefit that this would have on the environment.
11. Install Solar Panels
Solar panels capture energy from the sun and convert it into thermal or electrical energy. Solar technology can be used to generate electricity, provide light, or heat water for domestic, commercial or industrial usage.
Installing solar panels requires a significant investment but can be worth your while given the tax incentives, rebates and long-term benefits/savings.
Energy-Efficient Tips Room by Room
- Don’t overfill your fridge
- Keep your fridge away from heating sources (e.g. vents, ovens, or direct sunlight)
- Adjust the thermostat of your fridge and freezer (e.g. fridge within 2.5-4.5 degrees celsius and the freezer between -18 to -15 degrees celsius)
- Clean out frost build up in your freezer
- Only fill the kettle with as much water as you need
- Use a water-saving showerhead with a flow rate of fewer than 7.6 liters per minute
- Showering (versus taking a bath) saves a significant amount of water
- Use low-flow toilets that use 4.8 liters per flush
- Switch to an Energy Star certified ventilation fan as it uses 50% less energy
- Install a timer switch on your ventilation fan
- Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth or washing your face
Living Room/Dining Room
- Plug your entertainment system into a power bar with a timer
- Use blinds to keep direct sunlight from overheating a room in the summer
- Keep blinds open during the day in the winter months
- Install dimmer switches for your lights
- Add an insulating lining to your blinds to create a sealed gap in the winter months
- Power down computers, monitors or other electronics when not in use
- Use a smart power strip to eliminate standby power consumption
- Adjust the screen saver settings on your computer
- Take advantage of natural light
- Install ceiling fans
- Switch the direction of your ceiling fan seasonally (e.g. counter-clockwise in the summer and clockwise in the winter)
- Do not obstruct vents with furniture to allow airflow
- Use extra blankets at night and lower your thermostat
- Keep your bedroom door closed
- Choose a cycle with a high-speed or extended spin to reduce drying time
- Do not overfill your washing machine or dryer
- Wash in warm or cold water
- Pre-soak stained clothes to avoid having to re-wash
- Clean the lint trap after every load to increase airflow
- Use the sensor setting on your dryer
- Air-dry clothing, especially during the summer months
- Install a motion sensor light to use less energy
- Keep the door closed
Benefits of Making Your Home More Energy-Efficient
Making your home more energy-efficient has several environmental benefits, but it will also make your home more comfortable. While it might seem expensive to make the switch to energy-efficient appliances or related products, there are often rebates, credits or discounts available for making the switch.
It is best to check your local government website, energy provider website, or consult a home energy professional.
The five benefits of making your home more energy-efficient:
- Protects the Environment
- Saves energy and reduces energy demand
- Lowers your energy bills
- Higher property value
- Improves health and air quality
Home energy use accounts for 80% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Households in the United States need energy to power devices, electronics, appliances, and heating and cooling purposes.
Energy efficiency is one of the easiest ways to eliminate energy waste and save money on your energy bills. It also helps to combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollution.
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