9 Ways to Make an Energy Efficient Home

We’re all trying to save money and be smart about where we’re spending and that includes our own homes. Yet many homeowners don’t know that they’re losing money every day through inefficient practices and materials in and around their houses. Here are nine ways to make an energy efficient home and cut those utility bills down a bit.

energy efficient home

How Does Your Home Lose Efficiency?

There are several reasons why your utility bills might start skyrocketing. One is that your electric appliances and other products are draining too much energy by a malfunction or being left on when not in use.

Another is improper insulation, which causes warmth to escape your house in the winter, and find its way inside in the summer. These cause your heating and cooling units to run all the time with less efficiency in performance.

Luckily, there are plenty of tweaks you can make to your home to improve energy efficiency and reduce costs.

1. Improve Your Attic Insulation

Your attic may be one of the worst offenders when it comes to losing heat from your home. If you have an unfinished attic that either sits empty or has boxes piled up in it, your heating bill could be 10-50% higher than it needs to be. There are a few different ways you can improve the attic insulation.

A simple beginning step is to seal any leaks where cold air is coming in. Use a can of expanding spray foam from your local hardware store to seal around windows, pipes, wires and ducts.

Next, if you simply must use the attic for storage, you can pull up its flooring and add quality new insulation underneath. You can also rent a machine to blow loose fill insulation into the attic to the desired depth. This is a great way to fill all the nooks and crannies in an irregularly shaped or unfinished attic. Not into DIY? You can hire a handy service to do this for you.

2. Swap Out Your Light Bulbs

Did you know that during the short lifespan of an incandescent light bulb, you’ll pay up to 10 times as much in electricity used than you paid for the bulb? Energy efficient light bulbs include halogen, LED and compact fluorescent lamps (those are the spiral-shaped ones). If you’re looking for light bulbs and aren’t sure if they’re energy efficient, just look for the “Energy Star” labeling on the package. Energy efficient light bulbs last much longer than their old-fashioned counterparts and may be able to save you approximately $75 each year.

3. Upgrade Your Windows

If your curtains are wafting in the breeze, it’s definitely time to look into some new windows. There are plenty of energy efficient windows on the market now, and they can make your home so much more comfortable throughout the seasons – not to mention reduce your bills.

Energy Star labeled windows are upgraded with special coatings which cut the UV rays that enter your home and reflect heat away in the summer (or back into your home in the winter). While replacing your windows is pricey, you lose up to 30% of your heat through them. So, in the long run, the savings can outweigh the upfront investment.

4. Energy Efficient Doors

It’s not just your windows that affect your heating and cooling bills: an older, poorly insulated or improperly installed exterior door can also raise your costs. Glass doors are considered to be windows for energy efficiency ratings purposes, and are another big potential source of heat loss.

You can learn more about comparing exterior door energy efficiency at the National Fenestration Rating Council, as well as look for the Energy Star label while shopping. An insulated steel or fiberglass door, installed by a professional with good weatherstripping, will keep the outdoors where it belongs.

5. Clean Your Dryer Vents

Sometimes you have to look in the most unlikely places to find ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency. Your clothes dryer vent could be underperforming, or clogged with lint and dirt.

If so, you could be losing an extra $15-25 per month in utilities. A dryer vent technician can inspect the system everywhere from the lint trap to the joint connections and see if any repairs or just a good cleaning is necessary to keep your dryer humming along, but not too hard.

dryer vent cleaning

As an added benefit, you’ll have more peace of mind about avoiding mold and fire hazards when it comes to your dryer system.

6. Switch Up Your Shower Head

Did you know that if every home in the United States had low-flow showers, over 250 billion gallons could be conserved each year? That’s good for humanity and our whole planet, not just your utility bills.

Most people are worried that their shower won’t be as good, but there are some great options out there, such as Waterpik, that’ll give you an enjoyable shower while also saving water and energy.

Based on the average costs of hot water and sewer use in the United States, you can save about $50 per year with a low-flow shower head.

7. Unplug Unused Electronics

It’s definitely more convenient to just leave things turned on when you’re not using them, but in the long run the costs do add up from energy usage. Do you really need the clock on your coffee maker while you’re at work, or the lights on in the daytime?

Even when an electronic item is turned off, if it’s still plugged in it does continue to drain a small amount of electricity. Lamps, toasters, phone chargers, stereos, laptops and DVD players are just a few of the “vampire” energy suckers that increase your bills even when you’re not using them.

8. Check on Your Water Heater

You can also make a couple tweaks to your water heating system to save energy. First, reduce the hot water maximum temperature to 120°F. This is plenty hot enough for your showers or to wash your dishes, but a healthy limit to conserve energy.

As a bonus, if you have kids this is a good way to help prevent them from being burned if they turn on the wrong faucet.

Next, you can look into insulating the water lines, which will stop them from cooling off immediately in between uses. This can be really helpful all year round in conserving energy from hot water heating.

9. Lower Your Thermostat

This one may seem a little cliché, but this one small change truly can make a difference. You can actually shave 10% off of your heat bill in the winter for every degree lowered. Wear some wool socks and a sweater around the house, or turn it down low during the day while you’re at work.

The lowering your thermostat trick works best if you have already worked to keep drafts out of your house through proper insulation, properly-installed doors and windows and sealing up any seams or holes in the attic. That way, the heat you’re producing inside the home, will stay there longer.

Make Your House a More Energy Efficient Home

These nine tweaks will help you create a more energy efficient home, and guide you toward more mindful usage of your resources. Whether you go all out and replace windows and appliances or start small with a can of sealing foam, each month that your utility bills shrink smaller and smaller will be a positive reinforcement for your efforts.

If you need your dryer vent cleaned, get a free quote from Early Times. We’ll make sure that your vent is cleaned, it’s working efficiently and there’s no risk of fires. That’s why we’ve been serving Chicago since 1985.

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