10 Easy Ways to Save Energy in Your Home
Most people dont know how easy it is to make their homes run on less energy. Drastic reductions in heating, cooling and electricity costs can be accomplished through very simple changes, most of which homeowners can do themselves. Of course, for homeowners who want their homes to take advantage of the most up-to-date knowledge and systems in home energy-efficiency, Energy auditors can perform in-depth testing to find the best energy solutions for your particular home.
Learn 10 Easy Ways to Save Energy in Your Home below.
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your home more energy efficient? Here are a few good reasons:
- Federal, state, utility and
local jurisdictions' financial incentives, such as tax
breaks, are very advantageous in most parts of the U.S.
- It saves money. It costs
less to power a home that has been converted to be more
- It increases indoor comfort
- It reduces our impact on
climate change. Many scientists now believe that excessive
energy consumption contributes significantly to global
- It reduces pollution.
Conventional power production introduces pollutants that
find their way into the air, soil and water supplies.
Find better ways to heat and cool your house.
As much as half of the energy used in homes goes toward
heating and cooling. The following are a few ways that energy
bills can be reduced through adjustments to the heating and
- Install a ceiling fan.
Ceiling fans can be used in place of air conditioners, which
require a large amount of energy.
- Periodically replace air
filters in air conditioners and heaters.
- Set thermostats to an
appropriate temperature. Specifically, they should be turned
down at night and when no one is home. In most homes, about
2% of the heating bill will be saved for each degree that
the thermostat is lowered for at least eight hours each day.
Turning down the thermostat from 75° F to 70°F, for example,
saves about 10% on heating costs.
- Install a programmable
thermostat. A programmable thermostat saves money by
allowing heating and cooling appliances to be automatically
turned down during times that no one is home and at night.
Programmable thermostats contain no mercury and, in some
climate zones, can save up to $150 per year in energy costs.
- Install a wood stove or a
pellet stove. These are more efficient sources of heat than
- At night, curtains drawn
over windows will better insulate the room.
Install a tankless water heater.
Demand water heaters (tankless or instantaneous) provide hot
water only as it is needed. They don't produce the standby
energy losses associated with storage water heaters, which
will save on energy costs. Demand water heaters heat water
directly without the use of a storage tank. Therefore, they
avoid the standby heat losses required by traditional storage
water heaters. When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water
travels through a pipe into the unit. Either a gas burner or
an electric element heats the water. As a result, demand water
heaters deliver a constant supply of hot water. You don't need
to wait for a storage tank to fill up with enough hot water.
3. Replace incandescent lights.
The average household dedicates 11% of its energy budget to
lighting. Traditional incandescent lights convert
approximately only 10% of the energy they consume into light,
while the rest becomes heat. The use of new lighting
technologies, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact
fluorescent lamps (CFL), can reduce energy use required by
lighting by 50% to 75%. Advances in lighting controls offer
further energy savings by reducing the amount of time lights
are on but not being used. Here are some facts about CFLs and
- CFLs use 75% less energy
and last about 10 times longer than traditional incandescent
- LEDs last even longer than
CFLs and consume less energy.
- LEDs have no moving parts
and, unlike CFLs, they contain no mercury.
Seal and insulate your home.
Sealing and insulating your home is one of the most
cost-effective ways to make a home more comfortable and energy
efficient -? and you can do it yourself. A tightly sealed home
can improve comfort and indoor air quality while reducing
utility bills. An InterNACHI energy auditor can be hired to
assess envelope leakage and recommend fixes that will
dramatically increase comfort and energy savings.
The following are some common places where leakage may occur:
- electrical outlets;
- mail slots;
- around pipes and wires;
- wall- or window-mounted air
- attic hatches;
- fireplace dampers;
- weatherstripping around
- window frames; and
- switch plates.
Because hot air rises, air
leaks are most likely to occur in the attic. Homeowners can
perform a variety of repairs and maintenance to their attics
that save them money on cooling and heating, such as:
- Plug the large holes.
Locations in the attic where leakage is most likely to be
the greatest are where walls meet the attic floor, behind
and under attic knee walls, and in dropped-ceiling areas.
- Seal the small holes. You
can easily do this by looking for areas where the insulation
is darkened. Darkened insulation is a result of dusty
interior air being filtered by insulation before leaking
through small holes in the building envelope. In cold
weather, you may see frosty areas in the insulation caused
by warm, moist air condensing and then freezing as it hits
the cold attic air. In warmer weather, you?ll find water
staining in these same areas. Use expanding foam or caulk to
seal the openings around plumbing vent pipes and electrical
wires. Cover the areas with insulation after the caulk is
- Seal up the attic access
panel with weatherstripping. You can cut a piece of
fiberglass or rigid foam board insulation the same size as
the attic hatch and glue it to the back of the attic access
panel. If you have pull-down attic stairs or an attic door,
these should be sealed in a similar manner.
Install efficient shower heads and toilets.
The following systems can be installed to conserve water usage
- low-flow shower
heads. They are available in different flow rates, and some
have a pause button which shuts off the water while the
bather lathers up;
- low-flow toilets. Toilets
consume 30% to 40% of the total water used in homes, making
them the biggest water users. Replacing an older 3.5-gallon
toilet with a modern, low-flow 1.6-gallon toilet can reduce
usage an average of two gallons-per-flush (GPF), saving
12,000 gallons of water per year. Low-flow toilets usually
have "1.6 GPF" marked on the bowl behind the seat or inside
- vacuum-assist toilets.
These types of toilets have a vacuum chamber which uses a
siphon action to suck air from the trap beneath the bowl,
allowing it to quickly fill with water to clear waste.
Vacuum toilets are relatively quiet; and
- dual-flush toilets.
Dual-flush toilets have been used in Europe and Australia
for years, and are now gaining in popularity in the U.S.
Dual-flush toilets let you choose between a 1-gallon (or
less) flush for liquid waste, and a 1.6-gallon flush for
solid waste. Dual-flush 1.6-GPF toilets reduce water
consumption by an additional 30%.
Use appliances and electronics responsibly.
Appliances and electronics account for about 20% of household
energy bills in a typical U.S. home. The following are tips
that will reduce the required energy of electronics and
- Refrigerators and freezers
should not be located near the stove, dishwasher or heat
vents, or exposed to direct sunlight. Exposure to warm areas
will force them to use more energy to remain cool.
- Computers should be shut
off when not in use. If unattended computers must be left
on, their monitors should be shut off. According to some
studies, computers account for approximately 3% of all
energy consumption in the United States.
- Use efficient ?Energy
Star?-rated appliances and electronics. These devices,
approved by the DOE and the EPA?s Energy Star Program,
include TVs, home theater systems, DVD players, CD players,
receivers, speakers and more. According to the EPA, if just
10% of homes used energy-efficient appliances, it would
reduce carbon emissions by the equivalent of 1.7 million
acres of trees.
- Chargers, such as those for
laptops and cell phones, consume energy when they are
plugged in. When they are not connected to electronics,
chargers should be unplugged.
- Laptop computers consume
considerably less electricity than desktop computers.
7. Install daylighting as an
alternative to electrical lighting.
Daylighting is the practice of using natural light to
illuminate the home's interior. It can be achieved using the
- skylights. It?s
important that they be double-pane or they may not be
cost-effective. Flashing skylights correctly is key to
- lightshelves. Light shelves
are passive devices designed to bounce light deep into a
building. They may be interior or exterior. Light shelves
can introduce light into a space up to 2½ times the distance
from the floor to the top of the window, and advanced light
shelves may introduce four times that amount;
- clerestory windows.
Clerestory windows are short, wide windows set high on the
wall. Protected from the summer sun by the roof overhang,
they allow winter sun to shine through for natural lighting
and warmth; and
- light tubes. Light tubes
use a special lens designed to amplify low-level light and
reduce light intensity from the midday sun. Sunlight is
channeled through a tube coated with a highly reflective
material, then enters the living space through a diffuser
designed to distribute light evenly.
Insulate windows and doors.
About one-third of the home's total heat loss usually occurs
through windows and doors. The following are ways to reduce
energy lost through windows and doors:
- Seal all window edges and
cracks with rope caulk. This is the cheapest and simplest
- Windows can be
weatherstripped with a special lining that is inserted
between the window and the frame. For doors, weatherstrip
around the whole perimeter to ensure a tight seal when
closed. Install quality door sweeps on the bottom of the
doors, if they aren't already in place.
- Install storm windows at
windows with only single panes. A removable glass frame can
be installed over an existing window.
- If existing windows have
rotted or damaged wood, cracked glass, missing putty, poorly
fitting sashes, or locks that don't work, they should be
repaired or replaced.
9. Cook smart.
An enormous amount of energy is wasted while cooking. The
following recommendations and statistics illustrate less
wasteful ways of cooking:
- Convection ovens are more
efficient that conventional ovens. They use fans to force
hot air to circulate more evenly, thereby allowing food to
be cooked at a lower temperature. Convection ovens use
approximately 20% less electricity than conventional ovens.
- Microwave ovens consume
approximately 80% less energy than conventional ovens.
- Pans should be placed on
the correctly-sized heating element or flame.
- Lids make food heat more
quickly than pans that do not have lids.
- Pressure cookers reduce
cooking time dramatically.
- When using conventional
ovens, food should be placed on the top rack. The top rack
is hotter and will cook food faster.
10. Change the way you wash
- Do not use the ?half load?
setting on your washer. Wait until you have a full load of
clothes, as the ?half load? setting saves less than half of
the water and energy.
- Avoid using
high-temperature settings when clothes are not that dirty.
Water that is 140 degrees uses far more energy than 103
degrees for a "warm" setting, but 140 degrees isn?t that
much better for washing purposes.
- Clean the lint trap before
you use the dryer, every time. Not only is excess lint a
fire hazard, but it will prolong the amount of time required
for your clothes to dry.
- If possible, air-dry your
clothes on lines and racks.
- Spin-dry or wring clothes
out before putting them into a dryer.
Homeowners who take the
initiative to make these changes usually discover that the
energy savings are more than worth the effort. However, you
should consider that inspectors can make this process much
easier and perform a more comprehensive assessment of energy
saving potential than you can.
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