Energy Efficiency Tips for Your Home

December 11, 2013 by  
Filed under Solar Energy Tips

Energy Efficiency Tips for Your Home

Increased energy costs are becoming a significant concern for many homeowners, and there are no indications that they are going to drop in the future. With winter coming on fast in the northern hemisphere, energy costs are also rising for many people with the change in season. Fortunately, there are many ways to make your home more energy efficient, saving you money and also helping to conserve energy.

Control Temperature

One of the largest winter energy expenses comes from heating your home. You can make a significant difference in your energy usage by setting your thermostat wisely. During the day, set your thermostat between 68 and 70 degrees, and lower it overnight to between 65 and 68 degrees. If you are away from home during the day or if you are gone for multiple days, lower your thermostat to 60 degrees. A programmable thermostat is a great tool for controlling temperature, as it will automatically raise and lower your temperature throughout the day for the most efficient energy use.

Windows

Windows can be a significant source of undesired heat transfer in either summer or winter. To add extra insulation to windows, install single-cell or double-cell cellular shades. The extra air space inside these blinds helps prevent heat loss in the winter months. If you have air leaks around windows, seal them with caulk or weather-stripping to stop drafts. Leaks around doors should be sealed in the same manner.

Smart Lighting

Winter brings shorter days and less natural light, so lighting costs also rise. Replace standard bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) for a significant reduction in energy use. These bulbs also last longer than standard bulbs, meaning you will spend less on light bulbs over time. Focus on the lights you use the most. Just switching the five most used light fixtures to Energy Star compliant fixtures and bulbs will make a big difference in your overall energy consumption. For outdoor lighting, install motion-detector lights for both convenience and energy efficiency.

Energy Efficient Homes Energy Efficiency Tips for Your Home

Credit: Ron Sombilon (Flickr CC)

Solar Energy

Many homes are starting to install small solar panel systems which can reduce electricity costs. But even without solar panels, you can still use solar energy to heat your home. On sunny winter days, open blinds fully to let the sun warm the room. If you work from home, choose a room in the sunniest part of your house for your home office to take the most advantage of solar heating. Keep the doors to sun-warmed rooms closed to concentrate heat in those areas, and make sure windows are tightly sealed against drafts. Clear and clean the windows, and trim back shadow-casting tree branches or shrubbery to let in as much solar energy as possible

Heating System Maintenance

Heating systems work the most efficiently if they are well-maintained. Check any filters on your heating system and change them frequently. The types of maintenance needed varies based on the type of heating system you use, so check with the manufacturer of your system for the best maintenance procedures.

Water Temperature

Water temperature is one area that benefits from lower temperatures and not higher ones, even during winter. To reduce energy costs, lower the temperature on your hot water heater to 120 or 125 degrees. This will also protect you from accidental scalding. Install an insulating blanket on your water heater, especially if it is an older model. Also, insulate all of the pipes around the water heater with pipe insulation, which is inexpensive and easy to install. This is extra helpful if the water heater is located in an unheated space. Minimizing hot water use throughout your home will also save energy. Install a low-flow shower head to use less hot water for showers, and wash laundry in cold water.

Holiday Lighting

Many people use holiday lights for decorating during winter holidays. To save money and use less energy, replace old strings of lights with new LED lights. These new lights use far less energy than traditional incandescent light strings. Use a timer to switch holiday lights on and off, rather than leaving them plugged in all the time. Unplug lights when you leave the house or go to bed.

Seek Out Leaks

Any air leaks will allow heat to flow out of your home. Even a small leak can add up to a lot of lost energy over time. On the outside of your home, inspect all building corners and any place where two different kinds of material meet, as these are common leak areas. Make sure all doors and windows are properly sealed. Indoors, look for gaps around electrical outlets, switch plates, vents, fans, plumbing that leads outdoors, electrical and gas lines, baseboards, fireplace dampers, and attic hatches. Seal any leaks appropriately to prevent energy loss.

Even though energy prices are rising, you can lower your energy bills and keep your home comfortable year round by using these tips. A little time and effort on your part can put a lot of dollars back in your pocket.

Author bio:
Marta Baker is a writer, designer, and an expert in window coverings. Married to an artist, Marta learned to appreciate good design whether it was art, furniture, the written word or a beautifully appointed room. She studied journalism in college and has worked as a writer for nearly 20 years. Marta has been has been working at BlindSaver for over 5 years as a senior designer. 

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