As the weather gets cooler, most of us are closing our windows and getting ready to turn the heat on in our homes. But as we all know, using the furnace takes a lot of energy.
According to the Energy Information Administration, fossil fuels power most of the electricity in the United States, and electricity makes up most of our energy usage.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review
While renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and water power are growing in popularity, the effects of fossil fuel processing for electricity are still significant, leading to increased greenhouse gases and air pollution.
Making your home more energy efficient not only helps the environment, but it can also save you money. For Energy Awareness Month, we’ve provided some helpful tips to get the best use out of your home.
Keep warm in winter
- Your hot water heater consumes more energy than most of your other home appliances. Setting your water heater to no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit will conserve energy, save money, and prevent scalding. Replacing it with a tankless version would also last longer and be even more energy efficient.
- Installing a programmable thermostat can maintain a consistent temperature throughout your home, and prevent over- or under-heating your space.
- Take a walk around your home and make sure that vents, pipe openings, and windows are properly sealed, and that doors are caulked. Caulking can also help soundproof your home, and is inexpensive to install.
- Buying a humidifier will not only provide relief from the dry winter air, but it will also hold heat better, so you can still feel comfortable even if you set your thermostat at a lower temperature.
- Keep warm air where it should be by closing vents and doors in unused rooms, keeping your air registers dust-free and unobstructed, and making sure to change or clean your furnace filters monthly during cold months. You can make even better use of that warm air by using aluminum foil between your radiator – if you have one – and the wall to bounce heat back into the room!
- Installing storm windows will keep cold air out and better insulate your home. A large, thick rug will do the same for your floors.
- If you upgrade the insulation in your walls, it will keep your heating bills lower, and you can even receive up to $500 in tax credits! Consider getting a home energy audit for this project so you know which areas to focus on.
- If your heating system is nearing the end of its life or has seen better days, consider replacing it. Newer heating systems are more efficient.
- Only do laundry with full loads, and consider using cold water whenever possible. Your washer and dryer will run more efficiently.
- Installing water restrictors will limit the flow of water in showerheads and faucets. You can also replace your original items with those that come with built-in restrictors.
- Make sure that there are no leaks from your pipes or faucets. A small leak can waste a lot of water.
Kitchen and living room
- Use compact fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs instead of incandescent. They last significantly longer and use far less energy.
- If you’re not going to use electronics that are plugged into a power strip for a while, unplug them – they still draw some power from the outlet even when turned off.
- Clean the cooling coil of your refrigerator (while it’s turned off!) at least once a year. Make sure that your fridge has about an inch of space around it to keep air moving.
This may seem like a lot of information, but you don’t need to start all of these projects. Doing even one or two things on this list will help reduce your energy bill and have a positive impact on the environment.
Take a look at the links below for some discounts, rebates, and resources to get you started on making your home more energy efficient!