How to Save Energy in Your Home
From updating your HVAC to energy-efficient lightbulbs, here are 7 ways to save energy in your house
No matter what time of year it is, it’s smart to implement energy efficient strategies throughout your home. Not only will you save money on energy bills, but you’ll also make your home more comfortable all year round. Check out these 7 ideas that, whether implemented individually or together, help make for a truly energy efficient home.
Update Your HVAC
Replacing your old heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (“HVAC”) with a new system provides significant savings on your energy bills all year long, from heating your house in the winter to cooling the air during the hot summer months. Make sure you choose an HVAC system labeled Energy Star, which means the product has met strict energy efficiency criteria set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Your new system’s capacity is also important; have your contractor perform a heat-loss calculation to determine the right size unit for your home.
Many Heating and Cooling Units are Energy Star-certified and also let you control separate zones in your home for maximum efficiency. Whichever product you choose, expect to spend at least $5,000 for a complete replacement. After your new HVAC system is installed, schedule an annual servicing so it runs smoothly over the years. Also use media filters with an antimicrobial coating to improve your home’s air quality.
Improve Your Insulation
Improving your home’s insulation has the potential to save between 10% and 50% of your heating bill. The best place to target is your attic, including the floor and the rafters. For an area with standard joist spacing, opt for batts, which are long rolls of insulation. Fiberglass batts cost between $0.40 and $1 per square foot, not including installation.
For non-standard areas with odd joist spacing or frequent obstructions, it’s easier to use loose- fill insulation. It costs about $1.20 to $2 per square foot to have a contractor blow it in. Alternatively, you can save money by renting your own blower for about $70 a day and spending no more than $0.60 per square foot on materials. Whenever installing any type of new insulation, remember to protect the attic’s air flow by leaving the soffit vents open.
Use a Fireplace Insert
Another way to slash your energy costs is to add an insert to your fireplace. This simple addition reduces heated air loss through the fireplace, extending its usefulness as an effective tool for keeping you comfortable all winter long.
Using a professional installer maximizes the insert’s efficiency and ensures proper ventilation. For a quality fireplace insert with installation services, expect to spend between $2,000 and $4,000.
Upgrade Your Windows
The right windows come with the ability to trap in cool air during the summer and hot air in the winter. Replacing old, drafty windows isn’t an inexpensive proposition, but you’ll reap long-term energy savings for years.
The best type of windows are insulated with argon gas between the two panes. Also look for those with low-emissivity coating on the glass. Expect to pay between $600 and $700 for each window, but save up to 50% on your energy bills.
Improve Your Appliances’ Energy Efficiency
As you need to replace appliances throughout your home, opt for those with a high Energy Star rating. Also think about the appliance’s design when choosing a new one. A front-loading washing machine, for example, not only extracts more water out of clothing than a top-loading model (thereby reducing the dryer’s job), but it also uses less water.
Regardless of when you plan to upgrade your household appliances, you can take steps with your current ones to maximize their efficiency. Your refrigerator, for example, should be surrounded by an inch of space on all sides to improve air circulation. You should also clean your refrigerator’s cooling coil of dust and debris at least once a year (be sure to turn the unit off first).
Get a Tankless Water Heater
Your hot water heater is one of the biggest energy consumers of all your home appliances. Consider a tankless version, which is significantly more energy efficient and tends to outlast conventional storage water heaters.
For even better results, opt for a condensing tankless water heater, which reuses exhaust gas to help heat your water more quickly.
Use Energy Efficient Light Bulbs
More and more light bulbs are hitting store shelves at widely varying price points, and options abound. Energy-efficient bulbs cost more than conventional ones, but replacing traditional incandescent bulbs with more efficient options costs relatively little compared to projects like replacing major appliances or installing new windows. Plus, most energy efficient bulbs last longer than incandescents, so though you spend more upfront, you won’t have to replace them as frequently.
To save energy in your home (and keep more money in your pocket), consider both the big picture and your day-to-day habits. Analyze your home’s weak spots to prioritize your investments in energy efficiency. You don’t need to make all of these changes in a year; be strategic about your home improvement decisions so that you’re incorporating smart energy solutions as well.