Energy saving tips for your house
Energy saving tips for your house
One of my hobbies is to see how low I can get our energy costs, I know I really need to get out more and find better hobbies but what did you expect. I have two motivations for my hobby, energy and money savings.
Being frugal as I am, I hate to spend money on silly things like an electric bill, this money could be much better spend on interesting things like a Roth IRA, yep still need to get out more. So I have come up with some affordable energy saving tips to make your home more efficient, and for you renters, don’t worry some of these tips you can do in your rental as well.
There are extreme cost-cutting techniques like installing solar panels or replacing all of your windows and HVAC system but I like to focus on the easier more cost effective ways first. Besides, many of these you will want to do before you installed solar panels since if you reduce your consumption you will need fewer panels to run your home.
Also, I will note many local utility companies offer rebates and tax credit for implementation some of these energy-saving tips so be sure to see how you can qualify for these credits before getting started to save even more money!
Here we go…
1. Switch all bulbs to LEDs, I have a whole blog post on LED bulbs HERE if you want to check it out. If you plan on moving in the next few years here’s a tip, especially for you renters. LED bulbs last a long time, like 20 years if you get a good brand so they may cost a bit more initially but they will pay for themselves year after year. So keep the old bulbs you are pulling out and store them somewhere safe when you get ready to move take your new LED bulbs with you and just put back the originals. Check out my blog post on LED bulbs here!
2. Do not install all the bulbs, in areas where we do not need a lot of light we do not install all of the bulbs in the fixtures. In the bedroom, our ceiling fan has 4 lights and we only have 2 bulbs installed, this provides plenty of light and saves 50% of the energy use.
3. Use fans and raise your AC, by using fans you can actually raise your AC 4 degrees without noticing. Be sure to turn them off when not in the room, since fans do not make the house cooler they just circulate air.
4. Use a dehumidifier in the summer, this really only applies to humid climates but reducing humidity will reduce the need for air conditioning. Since most of the job of an air conditioner is to remove moisture from the air, also in cold climates try a humidifier in the winter to make the air seem warmer and keep your skin from cracking.
5. Programmable thermostat, there are some pretty fancy thermostats on the market, I tested the Nest brand thermostat and wasn’t too impressed, it had a lot of cool features and we could control it with our Insteon home automation system but I really don’t think it justified its $250 price tag, so we switched back to a cheaper t-stat that works just fine. If you’re handy and know about HVAC this is a medium level DIY project or at least a quick service call from a local HVAC company. The trick with these units is you really have to set them up correctly, really monitor when you want to raise and lower the temperature and when you will be away, also do not set it to extremes since its been found the harder the system has to work to get back up to your setting the less efficient it is. Example: do not set your temp to 78 when your home and 60 when you’re away, that’s just too much work for the system to change. Smaller 5-degree swings are more manageable and will save you plenty. Also, try to turn the AC up or heat down a few degrees and bundle up or use fans. >Click here for the thermostat we use<
6. Change your air filters and service your unit, this should be a no-brainer but you would be surprised how many properties I go in and the filter is caked in dust. Even if you’re a renter you may want to ask the landlord to change the filter regularly or if they will not make the small investment. Keeping the air flowing freely will keep your unit running better, also cleaning the HVAC system annually really helps and keeps it working longer.
7. Install foam outlet insulation on exterior outlets, you would be surprised how much energy you can lose with electrical boxes located on the perimeter walls. They are easy to install, remove the outlet or switch cover plate and place foam barrier and reinstall the cover. >Click here to check them out<
8. Caulk air gaps, filling in air gaps around windows, doors and any other opening will save you big. Larger holes may require expanding foam, this will also prevent insects from entering, so it’s a win-win.
9. Install weather stripping, if you have older windows and doors you should consider installing weather stripping as needed. Door sweeps that attach to the bottom of the exterior doors are also a good idea. Check at your local home center for some great ideas.
10. Use shades or blackout curtains, using shade and dark curtains on windows facing the sun will greatly reduce the suns rays coming into your home.
11. Tint your windows, this one is a bit trickier but can be done with a little practice and basic tools, if you have older windows chances are you do not have a UV coating on your glass. You can tint your windows to block UV rays and reduce heat transmission. >Click here to check it out<
12. Install low flow shower heads and aerators on your faucets to reduce water consumption, they will also require less water to be heated for your showers. Even if you pay very little for water it’s just a great environmental thing to do to reduce the stress on our water supply. Also, consider getting low flow toilets or placing an item in the tank to displace water and so it requires less water to fill the tank. >Click here to see which ones we use<
13. Reduce or optimize lawn watering, watering your lawn at the right time of day and having rain sensors will help reduce your water consumption. Also, make sure your sprinkler system is working properly and does not have any leaks or broken heads.
14. Install blown insulation in your attic, this is again a pretty easy DIY job for someone who is pretty handy and very affordable. Many home centers like our local Lowes will let you borrow the blower machine if you buy bales of insulation. This will require 2 people, one outside with the machine and one in the attic spraying the insulation. We recently did a flip house and coated the whole attic in 4-6” for about $400 bucks. Here’s a how-to video
15. For northerners with basements, also be sure your basement and crawlspace have adequate insulation along the wall and rim joists on the perimeter. Installing a vapor barrier in any crawlspace also reduces the moisture that evaporates into the home.
16. Wash clothes in cold water, there are new detergents that are made to perform in cold water and will save on your electric bill over time.
17. Use dryers and dishwashers at night, it will keep your house cooler and many electric providers have cheaper rates during non-peak hours. Also only run full loads to avoid multiple uses.
18. Keep refrigerators and freezers full, even if you don’t have a lot of food keep large bottles of water in there to take up space and reduce the air volume needed to be cooled. Plus you always have cold water which will save on your groceries but that’s another list!
19. Replace old appliances, this is not one of my favorite ideas since getting rid of a working machine is counterproductive but perhaps if you have the budget you could donate or sell your old units and invest in energy star rated appliances, even small appliances like vacuum cleaners and coffee makers can be more energy efficient.
20. Unplug unused appliances, phantom loads are always running in your home even when appliances are “off” they are actually in standby mode. You can use power strips to turn off those circuits completely when not in use. TVs, video games, stereos, computers all use electricity when not in use.
21. Timered outlets, my wife used to leave her flat iron on all the time and I got nervous she was going to burn the house down, so I found a plugin timer that you have to manually push a button to turn it on to use and once the time runs out it shuts off. No more flat irons or curling irons left on all day. >Check out what I’m talking about<
22. Motion sensors, installing motion sensors on rarely used lights is a great way to make sure they are off when you leave the room. I installed one in our laundry room and walk-in closets. They are actually very convenient. >Heres what I use<
23. Install a lighter roof, when the time comes to install a new roof consider a lighter color to help reflect the sun and keep your attic cooler.
24. Install solar exterior lighting, from path lighting to floodlights, solar power has come a long way. Typically the money you save by not running new power circuits or hiring an electrician you can buy solar lights for the exterior of your home.
25. Daylight and motion sensors on exterior lighting, most exterior lighting nowadays comes with photocell sensors and motion sensors but if they do not you can add them so outdoor lighting does not stay on all day or all night if not needed.
26. Close off unused rooms, we close the vent and seal the door to our guest bedroom when not in use. This is just less square footage we do not have to heat or cool. Also keeping closet doors and pantries shut will lessen the overall volume of air that needs to be conditioned.
27. Turn down water heater setting, on the front of most water heaters is a cover, under the cover is a small dial that sets the temperature of the water, by lowering this even a couple of degrees can save a lot over time, and you probably won’t even notice.
28. Water heater timer, if you have a tank style water heater you may want to install a timer. Since most of us do not require hot water all night you may want to turn off the power to the water heater from 10 pm to say 5 am or about an hour before the first shower. No sense in heating water all night you don’t need. This is an advanced DIY install or hire a pro. >Check it out here<
29. Install a water heater blanket, this sounds silly but there are actually insulation wraps you can get for your water heater to better insulate it. Also, insulating hot water pipes where accessible will reduce heat loss while water is traveling in the pipes. >Check it out<
30. Air condition mister, these systems are designed to mist water on your condensing unit outside on hot days to keep the unit cool and efficient. I have not personally tried them but it may be worth a shot. >Find them online here<
31. In cold climates redirect your dyer’s warm air into the house to raise the moisture level and increase heat. Using a vent diverter. >See what I’m talking about here<
32. If you are going on vacation, raise or lower your thermostat depending on the season and turn off your water heater, also unplug appliances that are not in use. Close all blinds and curtains and turn off lights not required for security.
33. Plant a tree, this is great for the environment and can also provide shade later on when the tree matures.
I will continue to add more ideas to this list as they come to me so be sure to check back often and sign up for our newsletter. If you have any energy saving tips you have found to work well please comment below so I can add them to the list!