There’s never too much that can be said about saving energy. Wasted energy is wasted money, so why let cash slip away from you if you don’t have to? A while back, we provided a post about saving energy in a log home to the great, eco-friendly website The Good Human. Seeing as it’s been a while, we wanted to revisit the topic and cover energy saving tips for all types of homes.
So, how do you save energy in your home (other than by following the traditional suggestions to “turn the lights off” and “unplug appliances when not in use”)? Here are our suggestions.
Lack of proper insulation is one of the main causes of wasted energy in a home. Insulation makes sure the hot or cool air stays inside the house instead of leaking out. The less insulation, the more heating or air conditioning units have to run to keep a home at a comfortable temperature, and the more money wasted on electricity. Insulation typically is found in attics, crawl spaces, floors, walls, and ceilings.
Insulation is measured in R-values, which basically stand for how powerful the insulation is. The larger the R-value, the more effective the insulation.There are different recommended R-values for each area, so using a calculator such as this one can help you determine yours.
There are four main types of insulation: rolls and batts/blankets, loose-fill, foam-in-place, and rigid foam. For a better description of each and where to use them, a great guide can be found here.
More dense insulation should be used in ceilings and exterior walls. For the best long-term savings, add insulation to your attic. Attic insulation between R-30 and R-60 is recommended for most homes in the United States. Be careful when installing insulation next to light fixtures; unless they are marked “IC” for insulation contact, it is best to contact an expert.
Making sure you have fresh and stable caulking is another essential step to insulating your home. Caulk is a sealant that insulates and also helps keep moisture and mold away. Caulking helps prevent leaks and keep energy costs down. Caulk should be checked at least once a year and replaced if needed.
Caulk should be placed over any gaps, cracks, and locations where different objects are joined, such as where a tub meets a shower floor or a window meets a wall. Just like insulation, there are different types of caulks made for specific surfaces.
Heating and Air Conditioning
It’s no secret that cranking up the heating or air conditioning cranks up the electric bill. Keep your thermostat to where you feel comfortable, but try not to overdo it. Turning on a fan or using an energy efficient space heater might be better options. Or, turn the air/heat down at night before you go to sleep and adjust it accordingly throughout the day.
Closing blinds and drapes during the day in the summer and opening them during the day in the winter can help keep warmth out and bring warmth in, respectively. In the summer, opening windows at night can help bring in cool air.
If you don’t have to heat or cool specific rooms or areas of your home, don’t. Close the vents and shut the doors. You even can use draft stoppers on doors and windows for extra insulation.
If your thermostat isn’t digital, you might want to think of upgrading. Not only are digital thermostats more accurate than the old, analog kind, but some digital thermostats automatically set the temperature at different times. Therefore, you can save money by ensuring the temperature is set properly – even without you remembering.
Believe it or not, there are more high-tech options beyond that. If you want to get really fancy, a brand new “learning thermostat” called Nest is able to learn your habits and automatically adjust its settings without your intervention.
When it comes time to replace a washing machine, microwave, television, or any other home appliance, look for the Energy Star label. Energy Star appliances use less energy and have less carbon emissions that appliances without the label. For example, newer front loading washing machines typically use a lot less water than standard top loading washers.
If you find you need a dehumidifier, there are other methods besides running an appliance that tend to work pretty well. Hanging up a bundle of chalk can help keep away moisture, especially in enclosed spaces such as closets. There also are hanging dehumidifier bags that suck moisture out of the air.
Unplug appliances when not in use. If you only use your blender or your basement television every couple weeks, there’s no sense in keeping them connected all the time. In addition, it’s a good idea to keep chargers and not-often-used items such as computer printers on a power strip. These items still suck up power even when they’re not in use. With a power strip you can easily flip off the switch when the items aren’t needed.
Here are some additional tips:
- Remove dust and buildup from the coils behind and under your refrigerator
- Don’t set the refrigerator temperature lower than 35 degrees
- Only run the dishwasher when it is full and let the dishes air dry
- Clean lint filter in dryer after each use and periodically make sure the dryer vent is not blocked
- If possible, use a microwave or toaster oven instead of a conventional oven to cook meals
Yes, we will repeat ourselves – turn off lights when not in use. Instead of turning on a large overhead light (or every light) in a room, switch on a smaller lamp if that is all the lighting you really need. You also could simply light a candle!
For lamps and light fixtures that are in use quite often, install CFL or LED bulbs instead of incandescent. They are a lot more energy efficient and tend to last longer than incandescent bulbs. In fact, a lot of energy efficient bulbs tend to pay for themselves over time.
When the bulbs do burn out, lots of hardware and appliance stores have places to recycle them.
Pools and Spas
If you have a pool or spa, installing a heat pump instead of a gas pump is a greener option. Heat pumps run on electricity rather than gas, and they do not generate heat; instead, they capture heat from the air and then move it to the water. If a heat pump is not in your budget or not quite what you want, variable-speed pool pumps also help save energy.
Solar heaters, solar pool covers, and LED lights are other popular, energy efficient choices for pool owners. Even a regular pool cover can help trap in heat and keep pool water at a comfortable temperature during swimming season.
If you have a home office or even office items, such as computers and printers, it can be helpful to calculate the energy wasted from such devices. This office energy wastage calculator can help you estimate the amount of energy wasted per year when devices are left on standby when not in use.
The EPA offers a household carbon footprint calculator. After calculation, options are given for reducing your household emissions and estimated savings also are offered.
This paper calculator, provided by the Environmental Paper Network, allows you to compute the environmental impact of your paper choices and explore different options for paper usage.
We’ve listed quite a few ways to save energy and reduce your household’s carbon footprint. If you think we’ve missed any tips, be sure to let us know! You can tweet at us @MICedarProducts.