Did you know the average American household spends almost 30 percent of their annual energy consumption on heating their home? That is closely followed by another 17 percent on cooling energy and about 14 percent towards their hot water tank usage. Most Americans pay their monthly utility bills automatically. They may bemoan the fact that this month’s bill is higher than normal, but otherwise they don’t really give much thought to monthly energy consumption. While homeowners may anticipate the rise in energy consumption during summer and winter months, they don’t always take the time or make the effort to reduce it.
There are simple ways homeowners can benefit from significant savings on their annual energy costs. Ready to learn how your can start adding up your energy savings at home?
10 Ways to Gain Energy Savings at Home
- Check for leaks. It probably comes as no surprise that since the biggest energy expense is in heating a home, that is also one of the easiest areas to recoup some wasted money. For many households, energy savings at home begins with sealing previously unnoticed leaks, which waste a considerable amount of energy and money. These leaks can come in the form of old weather-stripping or damaged caulking on windows. Leaky ducts in your home heating and cooling system can keep hot air from getting where it’s supposed to go.
- Replace old weather stripping on exterior doors
- Do a visual inspection on the exterior of your house, where different building materials meet, to check for any visible cracks or gaps that could indicate a leak.
- Hold a lit stick of incense and hold it in front of windows, doors, electrical outlets, or locations where cables, wiring, and plumbing enter your home on an exterior wall. If the smoke is disrupted by a draft, you know you have a leak to seal up.
- Annual Maintenance Contracts. Since heating and cooling are the main energy consumers, it’s important that HVAC systems are running optimally. One cost-effective way to make sure is to find a reputable HVAC company that provides annual maintenance contracts. They will make sure homeowners’ HVAC system performs efficiently year round, and that the ducts are sealed properly.
- Change Air Filters Routinely. Usually the rule of thumb is to change air filters every 6 months but to prevent filters from clogging, and causing the HVAC system to work harder, homeowners should change air filters about every 3 months when the heater or AC are being used heavily.
- Installing a Programmable Thermostat. Installing a programmable thermostat can be one of the biggest cost saving techniques. On average, it can save families as much as $180 per year. There’s no point in heating and cooling a home when nobody’s there. And winter nights offer the opportunity to wear flannel PJs and cozy up under thick blankets while the energy-consumptive heater takes a snooze as well.
- Installing Window Film. Window film can make a considerable difference when it comes to keeping a home cooler in the summertime. Homeowners can give their AC a break by having residential window film installed. Tinted window film can prevent up to 99% of the sun’s UV rays from entering a home. In fact, properly installed window film can save as much as 10% on utility bills during the summer months.
- An Energy Audit. The word, “audit” can cause the nervous system to go on alert. However, this is the kind of audit where the homeowner, or a licensed professional, assesses the areas where energy – and therefore money – might be wasted by inefficiency in appliances, undetected leaks, and so on. Energy savings at home should begin with a knowledgeable assessment of where the energy in a home is going. Almost anyone can perform a Do-It-Yourself Home Energy Audit. Homeowner’s may be surprised at what they discover. If you don’t feel like you know enough to perform a thorough energy audit, contact your local utility company. Many utilities, such as PG&E, offer Energy Audit seminars or can direct you in hiring a professional to do the audit for you.
- Wish Upon the Energy Star. When it’s time to purchase a new appliance, HVAC system, or a piece of home entertainment equipment, keep an eye out for the Energy Star Label. Energy Star is a government approved stamp that the electronic or gas powered device is more energy efficient than a standard model and meets strict energy guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Department of Energy. It is also a guarantee that the extra money spent on an Energy Star product will be recouped by its energy savings within a “reasonable amount of time.” From that point forward, it’s all just energy savings.
- Light Bright. Lighting is an easy focal point for energy savings at home. Incandescent bulbs burn significantly more energy than their florescent and LED counterparts. In fact, as it stacks up between the three lighting options:
- Energy Saving Incandescent Bulbs: 25% energy savings
- Energy Saving Compact Florescent (CFL): 75% energy savings (Note: CFLs contain mercury and should never be thrown away in the trash. Please save them and bring them to your local hardware store or other CFL recycling station.
- Light-Emitting Diode (LED): 75%+ energy savings
You can imagine how those savings at home add up over time.
- Make Way for Natural Light. Sunlight is absolutely free. However, so many homes have the blinds pulled and the curtains closed during the daytime to maintain privacy, cut down on passive solar heat (another way to conserve energy!), or to keep the glare from television and computer screens. Installing window film can be a great way to keep the lights off during the daytime while still benefiting from free sunlight, preserving privacy and preventing excessive solar heat gain. Contact a local window film installer for more information on how you can keep the lights off and let the sunlight in.
- Adequate Insulation. Insulation helps to maintain a more constant indoor temperature so the HVAC system works less to balance fluctuations. Older homes are often inadequately insulated. It’s worth the money to have your home inspected and get bids on adequately insulating your home. Improving the insulation in your attic can help tremendously. Take a peek – if the insulation is equal to, or lower than attic floor joists, it’s time to make modifications.
Observing these five simple steps will help contribute towards energy savings at home. They can save families hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars per year. The older the home, the bigger the savings. Best of all, the will pay for themselves in no time, allowing homeowners to pocket the rest.
Energy savings at home means more money in the pocket. Take some time this weekend for a DIY energy audit and see where you can start saving energy.