Going green and making your home more energy efficient isn’t just about keeping the environment clean. It can actually save you some money too. There are all sorts of ways to make your home more energy efficient, whether it’s installing insulation, upgrading your central air system, replacing your windows, switching to better lighting solutions, or changing the vehicle you drive. All of these tips combined can save you hundreds of dollars each year and make the planet a little better in the process.
1. Perform an energy audit – Having a technician perform an energy audit on your home will reveal areas that need improvement. These would include windows, ducts, and insulation. Repairs can be as simple as weather stripping doors and windows, or as complex as adding insulation and sealing ductwork.
2. Tap into the Smart Grid – By installing a Smart Meter, you can track your home’s energy use through web based software and mobile apps. They’ll show you how your house is consuming electricity allowing you to focus on making those areas more efficient.
3. Seal Air Leaks – When you experience a particularly windy day, light a stick of incense and stand near windows, doors, and various fixtures. If the smoke from the incense travels horizontally, you may have discovered a leak. By weather stripping or caulking these locations, you will make your home more airtight. Also cover or close open exhaust vents and shut fireplace dampers.
4. Check filters – Air conditioning, heating, and dryer filters can become clogged with lint and dust, restricting their air flow. By cleaning or replacing these, you will make these systems more efficient by reducing how hard they have to work for the same amount of use.
5. Insulation – Insulation is especially important in wide open areas like basements and attics, but it’s also highly effective when lining walls and crawlspaces. Attics are the primary culprit for heat loss in a home, as heat collects in the cavernous space and is radiated through the vents. This causes heating systems to work harder to keep the house at the right temperature.
6. Hiring Contractors – When looking to hire a contractor for any home improvement, ensure they are licensed, insured, and certified. Get bids from at least three companies, check references, and get recommendations from friends or family.
7. Heating and Cooling – Invest in a programmable thermostat to regulate when your heating and cooling systems run. If you’re not home to enjoy them, they’re wasting energy. Replacing filters and cleaning radiators and vents will ensure proper airflow and keep the amount of time the system has to run to a minimum. In winter months, keep as many south facing drapes and shades open as possible. This will allow the most sunlight in to warm the house naturally.
8. Air Ducts – Seal any accessible ducts with metal tape or duct sealant to keep air from escaping when your heating or cooling system is running. Close vents for ducts pouring air into unused rooms. Also ensure that no joint segments have separated.
9. Carbon Monoxide Detectors – CO detectors are required in many states for new buildings, but it doesn’t hurt to install a plug-in unit, especially if your home uses gas heating or stoves, or a fireplace. Carbon monoxide is a potentially deadly gas that has no odor, so in the event your alarm goes off, open as much ventilation as possible and leave your building.
10. Passive Solar Heating – Passive solar homes require very specific design and placement to take full advantage of the sun’s daily course through the sky. In winter months, sunlight passes through large, south facing windows to capture the light and warmth of a low-lying sun, and in the summer months, it utilizes reflective coatings and heat absorbing walls and floors to dissipate the heat from a high arcing sun.
11. Air Conditioners – When installing window AC units, bigger isn’t necessarily better. The larger units will drain more energy, and in a closed off room, the extra energy will be wasted. The same goes for central air systems. Buy a system that is suited for your house’s size and configuration to ensure nothing goes to waste. Programmable thermostats are also important for regulating when the system is in operation, especially when you’re not home.
12. Cool Roofs – Roofs are notorious for exuding heat in large quantities, whether it’s absorbed sunlight being radiated from shingles, or trapped attic air coming through the vents. A cool roof is designed to reflect more sunlight than it absorbs and can be installed by using special reflective paint, a sheet covering, or reflective shingles. This can lower the temperature of your roof by up to 50°F and keep your air conditioning from working as hard.
13. Green Roofs – Perfect for urban locations, a green roof can be implemented on a flat or shallow pit roof. While initially costly to implement, their benefits are wide reaching. A green roof provides natural insulation for your building, manages rain water, and provides a garden space to grow vegetables or otherwise enjoy nature in an urban setting.
14. Landscaping – A well landscaped yard not only looks attractive, but it can also provide natural benefits for heating, cooling, and wind protection. This can actually lower your monthly bills by up to 25% and lower ambient temperatures 3°-6°F.
15. Water Heaters – Insulate water lines to keep hot and cold water from losing their effective temperature on their way to your faucet, shower, or washing machine. Repair or replace any leaking faucets and pipes, as these can waste gallons of water without you realizing it. If you use a hot water tank, drain a quart out of it once per month to remove sediment that may have built up at the bottom of the tank.
16. Windows – Windows can account for anywhere between 10%-25% of your heating and cooling costs by letting air out. Installing Energy Star rated windows or weather stripping existing windows will make them more efficient and keeping air from escaping. Windows can also be coated with special films that reflect heat back into rooms in the winter and reflect sunlight back in the summer.
17. Lighting – Installing Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) or Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs will cut way back on your electricity usage for lighting. Additionally, using motion detectors for outdoor lights will save you from needing to leave lights on when you go out at night.
18. Appliances – Look for Energy Star rated appliances to ensure you’re getting your money’s worth in energy usage. Everything from printers and computers to washers and refrigerators are rated by their efficiency and have Energy Star certified variants.
19. Renewable Energy – Solar panels are an increasingly popular way to generate electricity for your home. They can be mounted atop an existing, south-facing roof or in an open area outside your home to capture the rays of the sun and use the energy collected to power heating systems including water heaters. Heating and cooling systems can be connected to geothermal systems as well. Water is piped to varying depths to warm or chill the water to useable temperatures for heating and cooling systems. Small wind turbines can be used to generate electricity for your home or recharge recreational vehicle batteries. If the energy generated by both solar and wind exceeds your home’s needs, it can actually be piped out to the electrical grid, which energy companies will pay for.
20. Transportation – Investing in energy efficient vehicles, like biodiesel and hybrids, is an excellent way to conserve energy and reduce the impact on the environment. They can also end up saving you money in terms of fuel consumption. For those with more common vehicles, reduce the amount of fuel you use by cutting back on idling time and high speed driving. Idling a car to warm it up in the winter time consumes gas and increases emissions, but doesn’t actually get you anywhere. High speeds over 60 mph decreases the fuel efficiency of your vehicle. Avoid overloading your vehicle as every 100 lbs costs you an extra $0.08 per gallon. Short trips also use a lot of fuel; combining errands into a single trip will use your fuel more efficiently.
About Glacial Energy: Glacial Energy is one of the fastest growing national retail energy suppliers selling electricity and natural gas to residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional customers in deregulated markets across the country. Glacial Energy has the resources and market knowledge to provide customized quotes for your business or cost-saving opportunities for your home. Learn more about Glacial Energy by visiting: www.GlacialEnergy.com.