As living costs continue to put pressure on households across the country, increasing numbers of people are turning their attention to their energy consumption needs and looking at ways to make their home into an energy-efficient house.
In addition to saving money, the desire to be more energy-efficient is driven by the need to save the environment from further damage from climate change, air and water pollution, and the depletion of non-renewable resources. As a result, society is beginning to prioritize sustainability and greater efforts are being made by many to reduce their carbon footprint and reliance on the planet’s precious natural resources.
Whether you are feeling inspired to live a more eco-friendly life or would simply like to reduce your energy expenses each month, by making a few simple changes to your home you can cut greenhouse gas emissions, and improve indoor and outdoor air quality, as well as save money.
Keep reading to discover some helpful tips for making your home more energy-efficient!
Replace Your Light Bulbs
When it comes to lighting your home, consider replacing your light bulbs with more energy-efficient light options such as LED bulbs which use up to 90% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and 70% less energy than halogen lamps.
As well as saving energy, LEDs also have a longer lifespan than conventional light bulbs and can provide approximately 50,000 hours of light. Based on usage of 10 hours each day, this equates to a lifetime just short of 14 years. This is almost 50 times as much as normal incandescent lighting.
Installing LED lighting will lead to a reduction in your energy consumption and, in the long term, will also save you money on the need to replace your light bulbs. By 2035, the widespread use of this lighting has the potential to create energy savings equivalent to the annual energy output of over 921,000 megawatt power plants (U.S. Department of Energy).
Another way to make your lighting needs more energy efficient is by considering greener energy options when it comes to your energy supplier. An internet search can help you find many providers on the market that now offer 100% clean renewable energy plans.
Replacing your old appliances with more energy-efficient ones that are Energy Star certified will guarantee they consume less energy than standard makes and models thereby helping the environment by producing less harmful emissions and reducing your electricity bills.
Some of the features of Energy Star products include:
- Refrigerators are at least 15% more energy-efficient than non-Energy Star models
- TVs consume at least 3 watts less energy when switched off compared to standard TV sets
- Furnaces are around 15% more energy-efficient than baseline models
- Washing machines use 25% less energy and 33% less water
- Dishwashers use on average 12% less energy and 30% less water compared to standard models
While many energy-efficient appliances come with a significant cost up front, these products could save you almost $750 over their lifetime.
You can also make changes to the way you use your current appliances to ensure they are using the least amount of energy while carrying out their functions.
For example, make sure you run full loads when washing your clothes and use cold water instead of hot during washing cycles. Around 90% of the energy used by the washing machine during laundry goes towards heating the water. Instead of using a drier or the drying function on your washing machine, hang your clothes on a drying rack or outside if possible, as this will also cut down on your energy consumption.
Whether it’s your washing machine, dishwasher, or coffee machine, make use of an ‘eco mode’ if there is one. This will ensure it uses less water and lower temperatures thereby using less energy and minimizing water usage.
You can also improve the efficiency of your refrigerator by cleaning the coils, setting its temperature at an optimum level, checking the seals around the door, and making room around and inside the fridge to ensure adequate air circulation.
Greater HVAC Efficiency
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) efficiency are some of the most effective ways to decrease your overall energy consumption. Replacing your air filters every 30 to 60 days is essential to ensure your HVAC equipment is working at its optimum level. According to the U.S. Dept of Energy, clogged filters cause heating and air conditioning systems to use 15% more energy.
Check out this video by GREEN TECHNOLOGY LIFE for some tips on improving your HVAC efficiency:
A dirty air filtration system will mean your HVAC system has to work harder to allow air to flow through and increase the amount of energy needed to maintain comfortable temperatures and a clean indoor environment.
In addition to this, it can also cause your HVAC equipment to malfunction due to overheating or freezing depending on the settings used. Along with changing your air filters, you can also save on energy by taking the following steps:
- Have a qualified professional inspect your HVAC system annually
- Program your thermostat for the most optimum efficiency based on the time of year and your schedule
- If your HVAC system is over 15 years old or needs frequent repair, consider replacing it with a more energy-efficient, Energy-Star rated unit
Geothermal HVAC systems are considered the most energy-efficient type of HVAC systems, as they use energy stored on the surface of the earth to heat and cool your home without using conventional fuel sources such as propane, coal, and other fossil fuels.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the water demand has tripled over the past 50 years due to a doubling of the U.S. population. With water shortages expected in at least 40 states by 2024, water conservation is now critical.
This TED video shares some useful ways to conserve water:
Energy and water consumption often go hand in hand, and using water more efficiently around the home can help to reduce your energy bill. Hot water use in households, for washing dishes and clothes as well as for baths and showers is a major contributor to energy consumption within households. Other uses of water around the house include watering the garden, flushing toilets as well as drinking. Below are some ways you can conserve water around the home:
These large containers can collect and store rainwater which can be used in the garden to mulch soil, water plants, rinse crops, wash cars and replace the need for sprinklers. Most plants also prefer the slightly more acidic pH of rainwater compared to tap water.
Take a Shower
A shower is more energy-efficient than taking a bath. According to the European Environment Agency, a shower uses about 30 to 80 liters of water, while a bath uses 150 to 200 liters. Installing a low-flow showerhead can further reduce your water and energy consumption as less water is used to shower, so less energy is needed to heat it.
With multiple uses, each day toilets consume a lot of energy. A low-flow or low-flush toilet is designed to use significantly less water than a standard full-flush toilet.
Turn off the Tap
You can also conserve water around the home by turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth or shaving, use a washing-up bowl when washing dishes, and fix leaks.
Install Solar Panels
Solar power which converts light from the sun into electricity can offer you a clean and renewable energy source that is beneficial for the environment as well as reduces your energy consumption.
Although there is an initial investment needed when fitting solar panels you will save money on your energy bills in the long term. The average home can save anywhere between $10,000 and $30,000 over the lifetime of their solar panels.
When generating your own electricity you will be consuming less from your energy provider helping you to be more self-reliant and reducing your dependence on non-renewable sources of energy such as fossil fuels.
The simple suggestions in this article, can go a long way to making your home more energy-efficient as well as protecting the environment and contributing to the welfare of the planet.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is It Enough to Replace Light Bulbs to Make a Home Energy-Efficient?
The very first thing that comes to mind about making your home energy-efficient is changing your lightbulbs, which is a great start. However, this is only the start. You should consider all the options presented above and, if necessary, look for other ways to improve the efficiency of the entire home. Check out the full guide for more info.
Can I Do Work on My AC Alone?
You should only consider minor tasks like changing AC filters and washing the interior unit as DIY projects. Anything else should only be done by trained HVAC professionals. Check out the full guide for more info.
Is There a Way to Save Money on Solar Panels?
In some parts of the US and the world, there are grants handed to people who want to install solar panels. This is an option to consider and it its available where you live, there is no reason not to take advantage of it. Check out the full guide for more info.
References and Useful Resources
Energy.gov: LED Lighting
Energy.gov: EnergySaver LED Lighting
EnergySage: How Much Do Solar Panels Save?
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Water Conservation
European Environmental Agency (EEA): Green Tips – Take a Shower Rather than a Bath!
Okeo: Energy-efficient Lighting: LED Lights – Economical and Flexible