4 Tips for Building a More Energy Efficient Home
Schedule an Energy Efficiency Audit
The first step in determining what you’ll need to do in order to build a more energy efficient home is performing an energy efficiency audit. This can be a do-it-yourself audit or a professionally hired job. The point is to gain a better understanding of where your home is losing the most energy and assess what can be done quickly to begin saving.
A few initial places to check include the insulation, heating/cooling equipment, lighting, and appliances. Hiring a professional to perform the audit will provide a better overall assessment of the home since they have the specific tools to check more thoroughly. However, here are some recommended steps for performing your own energy efficient audit. As long as action is taken on priority items, regardless of who executes the audit, you should begin experiencing savings almost immediately.
Use Different Light Bulbs
Updating the lighting in your home is an easy way to become more energy efficient. Fluorescent bulbs produce significantly less wasted energy and last up to 12 times longer than an incandescent bulb. Since they waste little energy, efficient bulbs will save you money on electricity bills over time. There are several options to choose from as well.
Halogen incandescents use a capsule that holds gas around a filament to produce efficient lighting. Compact Fluorescent Lamps, or CFLs, are smaller versions of the fluorescent lighting you may already have in your kitchen. Light Emitting Diodes, or LEDs, are semiconductors that turn electricity directly into light. Each has their own merits and depending on your individual needs, could best fit your needs.
Traditional incandescent bulbs waste up to 90% of energy producing heat instead of light. Because of this, they don’t reach the federal minimum energy efficiency and are no longer manufactured. The wasted energy results in money you are throwing away each month plus the cost of replacement bulbs. And while energy efficient bulbs may cost more up front, they’ll begin saving you money over a few short months!
Install a Better Thermostat
Having a programmable thermostat makes energy efficiency of your home extremely manageable. Here, you have the ability to control the temperature and energy use of your heating and cooling systems. A programmable thermostat can save up to 10% a year in energy costs if used correctly. Since the heating and cooling systems in a house can affect energy use so heavily, it’s important to note the considerations when programming your thermostat.
There are several factors that can affect the efficiency of the thermostat such as wall placement, the type of thermostat it is, and the local weather. Any thermostat should be placed in a room where there is no opportunity for a false reading. A programmable thermostat can be digital, electromechanical, or a combination. Digital thermostats make it possible for more precise programming but can be difficult to use. The weather surrounding your home greatly affects how you should set your thermostat. The closer the indoor temperature is the outdoors, the more efficient your cooling and heating energy use will be.
Use Appliances Properly
When choosing appliances, choose wisely. Energy Star certified appliances, noted with the HE logo, can make a positive impact on your home’s energy usage. While they may cost more upfront, they will save money in energy use later. Some appliances also include an Energy Guide label that helps owners understand how much energy the appliance will use and the cost involved.
Not all appliances come with an energy guide, though, and individuals often use appliances differently. But, knowing how much energy an appliance uses can be a crucial component towards increasing home energy efficiency. Here is a link to an Appliance Energy Calculator. This tool can help measure the energy use and cost per year of almost any appliance. It achieves this with just a few basic pieces of information such as hours per day, use, or wattage of the appliance.An appliance can be plugged into an electricity usage monitor to measure the energy it uses over a period of time. Additionally, the device can assess how much it costs to run a device for the duration of the time it was plugged in. When appliances are left plugged in, they draw standby power which increases energy consumption, and therefore, the cost of the appliance. Because many appliances remain plugged in over long periods of time, it is also good to practice unplugging appliances while not in use. Another great way to ensure there’s no wasted standby power is investing in a power strip that can be switched to cut the power to appliances.