There have always been environmental reasons to “green” one’s home. By decreasing the amount of energy used, it’s possible to reduce your carbon footprint. This, in turn, helps to preserve Earth’s natural resources for future generations.
But there are increasingly economic reasons for becoming more energy efficient as well.
Nationwide, utility prices keep trending upward, with no end in sight. This shift is placing added strain on family finances, particularly among those who live in energy-inefficient residences.
However, by making simple improvements around the home, it’s possible to reduce these expenses and help protect the planet at the same time. Below are some of the easiest and most effective greening tips every homeowner should implement.
1. Windows and doors
Doors and windows are notorious for “energy” leaks, especially among older homes with outdated or loose-fitting fixtures.
Here are some simple fixes you can implement today:
- Install energy-efficient, double-paned windows.
- Add weather stripping at the bottom of external doors.
- Plug leaks, cracks and fissures with caulk.
- Apply filters to windows to keep the interior cool/warm.
- Keep the drapes and curtains drawn during warm days.
2. Proper insulation
Many homeowners assume insulation is strictly for keeping the interior warm during the coldest months of the year, but a well-insulated home will also stay much cooler when temperatures rise during summer months.
Consider adding better insulation throughout. This is especially important in areas of the home where heat transfer occurs most frequently — i.e. attics, basements and most outer walls.
Regardless of the time of year, proper insulation makes it easier to regulate interior temperatures using fewer energy resources and less money.
3. Heating and cooling
Heating and cooling account for up to 43 percent of the average home’s energy bill. Thus, improving this area offers the greatest environmental and financial gains.
We’ve already looked at how tighter doors and additional insulation can help, but it’s also important you regularly maintain your HVAC system. This means replacing filters on a regular basis and keeping all ducts free from debris.
Installing a smart thermostat that can regulate temperatures in your absence is also a wise investment. If no one is home, there’s no point in spending money on heating and cooling costs.
Ceiling and floor fans are also cost-effective solutions during summer months.
4. The garage
For many homes, the garage is the single largest source of heat loss. However, you can reduce some of this waste by:
- Installing garage door threshold seals that help to prevent drafts
- Replacing your garage door with a newer, more insulated model
- Adding insulation on all walls, especially those shared with the home
If you’re still using incandescent lightbulbs to illuminate your home, you’re throwing away money. These lights are incredibly inefficient, with up to 90 percent of the energy invested coming out as wasted heat. Only 10 percent of this energy is released as visible light.
Fortunately, fixing this is easy. Replace all of your incandescent balls with CFL or LED alternatives. Better still, install timers or motion detectors that can automatically turn off lights when they’re not in use.
6. Appliances and electronics
If you have the money to do so, consider replacing all of your older appliances with ENERGY STAR alternatives. This applies to refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines and dryers — all of which consume a tremendous amount of electricity (and sometimes water).
Even with a limited budget, however, it’s possible to save money. For example, you can:
- Make sure you wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.
- Turn off standby mode for all electronics and gadgets.
- Consider air drying your clothes and dishes.
One Step at a Time
Although many of these energy efficiency tips are free to implement, others require substantial investments of money — and these upfront costs sometimes scare off homeowners.
However, you don’t need to make all of these changes at once. Instead, do them in stages. With the savings from each step, you can finance future improvements to deliver even more financial and environmental benefits.
If you’d like to learn about other ways to reduce your home’s impact on the planet (and your bank account), check out the following infographic:
Author bio: Ashley W. Smith is Managing Director for Garadry. He has a degree in Industrial design, which allows him to integrate his problem-solving skills and creativity into his work. After forming the company in 2009 and launching the website in 2015, he currently manages the company from the UK.