An energy efficient home is something most people think about once a month. When the utility bills roll in and need to be paid, there’s always the consideration something can be done to lower costs. But like with many “chores”, most homeowners just accept the situation and rationalize making an energy efficient home is too expensive and too time consuming. Truth be told, nothing worthwhile is easy and all efforts will pay off in the future. What’s more, turning an energy guzzling home into an energy efficient home can be done incrementally. Not all modifications, upgrades and replacements have to be done at once.
What Makes an Energy Efficient Home
What makes an energy efficient home is, well, smart and efficient energy use. And making an energy efficient home can be done through a series of steps. Some are small changes in everyday living while others are taking on larger projects. An energy efficient home uses power, water and materials in not only an environmentally friendly manner, but in a way that reduces costs to the homeowner.
In fact, the average American household’s energy budget spends 22.4 percent in cooling, 14.2 percent in lighting, 8.9 percent in water heating, 7.3 percent in refrigeration, 6.8 percent in powering color televisions and set-top boxes, and 8.4 percent in regular cooking and cleaning, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Ways to Increase Home Energy Efficiency
Not surprisingly, looking over the biggest power consumption sources on the list, cooling, water heating and lighting take the top three spots. Add space heaters and furnace fans, that’s another 8.6 percent of annual energy costs. But those costs can be reduced significantly in an energy efficient home. Here are some steps you can take to convert your property into an energy efficient home:
- Replace your old refrigerator. As you can see, a refrigerator consumes a lot of power. Because these appliances are so durable and have such longevity, homeowners often keep them past their energy conservation lifespan.
- Change out that old thermostat for a digital, programmable thermostat. An energy efficient home uses electricity wisely. Installing a programmable thermostat will allow you to take control of when and how much your home is cooled.
- Shade windows facing east and south. By simply sticking heat/light blocking tint to your windows, you’ll greatly reduce the amount of heat transfer coming from outside. The less heat emitted, the less cooling is necessary.
- Replace window and door weatherstripping. An energy efficient home leaves no trace for energy escape. That cracked, worn weatherstripping simply lets cool or warm air out and allows hot or cold air to come inside, according to The Discovery Network. Additionally, caulk windows and door around the “seems” to keep them better insulated.
- Add foam or reflective insulation to your home. Foam insulation improves indoor air quality, reduces energy costs and dampens noise. While reflective insulation works by inhibiting or repelling heat from the sun. Both are great to make a more energy efficient home.
Even more Ways to Increase Home Energy Efficiency
- Upgrade your attic insulation, duct work and/or your central air conditioner. Yes, it’s a big investment, but the key word is “investment”. Replacing old inefficient HVAC equipment will make a drastic difference in your cooling costs during the summer months.
- Unplug this and unplug that. Just over 18 percent of average household energy use is due to what the U.S. Energy Information Administration classifies as “small devices, heating elements, and motors”. In this category are chargers, alarm clocks, radios, blenders, toasters and other small appliances homeowners regularly leave plugged in, even when not in use.
- Replace your water heater. An energy efficient home takes advantage of the latest technologies available to consumers. There are solar and tankless water heaters available to make an energy efficient home. Most have rebates with purchase.
- Install or replace your attic fan. Replacing insulation and upgrading ductwork will certainly do wonders, but giving them a little extra help can’t hurt.
- Bathroom fixtures are another key part of creating an energy efficient home. Low-flow shower heads and low-flush toilets can be a giant help in stopping water waste.
In addition to the above ten steps for creating an energy efficient home, there are other things you can do to make your home more economic. Swap out those old light bulbs for CFL bulbs. Pull away window treatments and furniture from air vents to get the maximum output. Turn off your desktop, televisions, radios, video game stations and other devices when not in use. Lastly, replace your air filter on a regular basis and wrap your water heater in insulation for better performance.