Whether you are renovating your home or want to make a few energy efficiency upgrades around the house, you should undertake several home improvements as soon as possible to increase your home’s energy efficiency. The primary goal of any improvement is to reduce heating and cooling costs without reducing interior comfort. Specifics depend on where you live, what type of house you live in, and how much money you can spend on these specific upgrades. In all cases, making these changes will improve the quality of living inside your home by increasing comfort levels for those who occupy it.
In general, here is a good starting point for improving your homes energy efficiency:
Install Energy Efficient Water Heater
Energy-efficient water heaters have been shown to reduce a home’s energy consumption for hot water by up to 40% as they only consume power when someone is drawing hot water. With a tankless water heater, you are assured of a constant hot water supply in your home and never again suffer the inconvenience of running out. These units are not cheap but can save you a lot on your monthly water heating bills. If you’re looking for a more affordable option, replace an old electric water heater with an efficient gas model. You’ll probably recoup your investment in two or three years and be enjoying lower energy costs every month after that.
Install Programmable Thermostats
If you cannot install a smart thermostat, buy one of the inexpensive programmable thermostats that will automatically turn your furnace on and off when it senses that no one is in the house. These thermostats allow for automatic adjustment of the temperatures at which you heat and cool your home based on the time of day – when no one is using the house, it will automatically turn down to “off” at night or while away during the day. These devices will permit you to enjoy lower utility bills as they reduce the amount of energy consumed by your home.
Install Drought Tolerant Landscaping and Plant Shrubs
With a bit of planning, you’ll be able to create an easily maintainable landscape that requires virtually no supplemental watering after it is established. This will help reduce or eliminate the need for water during the summer months, automatically lowering your cooling costs. You can also plant deciduous shrubs in the yard to not block any heat from entering your home during the winter months. Be sure to plant shrubs on the south side of your home as they can provide shade in summer and sun in winter – reducing heating bills throughout the year.
Install Solar Screens on Your Windows
Installing solar screens on your windows can reduce the amount of energy used to cool your home in the summer months by as much as 32%. Solar screens work best with west, south, and southwest facing windows where the most intense direct sunlight enters your home. Solar screens also provide privacy and reduce fading on furniture and carpets by blocking the heat from direct sunlight. These simple devices block up to 80% of peak sunlight from entering your home while allowing you to enjoy natural light during the day.
Install Low-E Windows or Sliding Panels on Your Windows
Low-e windows, sometimes called energy-efficient windows, offer an alternative to solar screens as they block up to 80% of the radiant heat that comes through your window during the summer months, saving you money on cooling costs. Low-E panels may be the best choice on east and west-facing windows where direct morning or afternoon sun is not seen. They also allow for maximum natural light while still offering substantial savings on your monthly utility bills during peak summer months. When combined with an automatic thermostat, these devices can reduce the amount of power used to cool your home during hot weather by about 30%.
Keep the Interior of Your Home Free from Clutter and Unused Electronics
Furniture, appliances, and electronic devices all give off heat when plugged in or turned on, making your home warmer during the winter months. It is a good idea to keep a clear space around these items and limit their use where possible – if you do not need it, turn it off. Also, it is a good idea to unplug appliances and electronics not in use as they can draw energy even when turned off. This simple step will reduce the strain on your air conditioning unit as it will have to work less complicated to cool down your home.
Make Sure Your Ceiling Fans Are in Working Order
When used regularly during warm months, ceiling fans can keep you cool by creating a wind-chill effect that makes you feel several degrees cooler than the actual temperature around you – this leads to little or no need for air conditioning. Although some houses have central air conditioning systems with built-in thermostats, most homes have window units often set at high levels. If you are comfortable with your house temperature at 70 degrees Fahrenheit or below, adjusting the thermostat down by just four degrees will save you about fifteen percent on cooling costs. For not air-conditioned homes, ceiling fans may be the only way to maintain comfort during warmer months.
Install Drapes on Your Windows
Drapes allow you to control how much sunlight enters your home by blocking direct light during the summer months and allowing natural light to penetrate through windows facing east or west during the winter months. Also, drapes can open and close windows with remote control. This is helpful for homes that are not equipped with air conditioning units as it will allow you to stay calm when you are home without having to use the more expensive on-demand cooling systems.
Before undertaking any severe repairs or upgrades around the house, consult with a home improvement professional for help prioritizing your options. Be sure to include future costs of maintaining your home and any potential discounts you may be able to accumulate from local utility companies who reward customers for reducing their monthly energy consumption. If you choose the right programs and make a concerted effort to improve your home’s energy efficiency, you could see your utility bills cut by up to 50% every month.
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