Think about how much you put into making your home your favorite place to be.
Maybe it’s that new deck and patio for backyard barbecues. Or that comfy couch that goes perfect with nights by the fire. Or that bathroom renovation to create your own oasis, complete with whirlpool tub and an elephant shower head.
Whatever actions you take, it’s safe to say that you want your home to be the best it can be for you and your family. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do that improve your level of comfort while also increasing your home’s value and reducing your energy bills. You can even have a positive impact on the environment while you’re at it.
Here a few simple ways to get started.
Get smart with electricity
Do you remember hearing your parents tell you to turn out the lights when you leave a room? There’s an app for that now. There’s actually quite a few options to completely automate your home if you wanted. But regarding your lights, check out simple systems like Philips Hue, which lets you control all your lights, specific bulbs, or even the color and brightness.
If you’re looking to control the power hungry devices in your home, you can always purchase an outlet that turns anything into a smart device. One popular option is the WeMo Switch by Belkin. Control the power of whatever you plug into it from your smartphone.
How it impacts you: The average annual home energy bill is $2,200 with 12% of that due to lighting, which comes to $264. Now, the less energy you use the more money you save. For example, LED bulbs are more expensive but use 90% less energy to produce the same amount of light as incandescent bulbs. They also last 50 times longer.
If you replaced all your light bulbs with LED bulbs, your $264 lighting bill comes down to just $26 a year.
Control your own climate
Smart thermostats have been around for a few years now; the Nest Learning Thermostat and the ecobee3 thermostat are a couple leaders in the group. With the ability to auto program themselves and learn from your habits, it’s no wonder they’re called ‘smart.’ The nitty gritty details though are pretty technical.
The price you pay to heat or cool your home actually fluctuates throughout the day. If more people use more heat at a certain time of day, then the price goes up and the reverse is also true. A smart thermostat won’t play the energy market for you, but it can adjust your home to keep it comfortable and affordable.
Now let’s move to water. Even if you enjoy especially long hot showers, you don’t take a shower all day long. But your standard water heater doesn’t know that. Which means it keeps a portion of water hot at all times. A smart water heater, like this one from Whirlpool or this one by Aquanta analyzes your usage to provide you with hot water when you need it instead of constantly expending energy.
How it impacts you: Nest released a study on Nest, citing a 10-12% savings on heating and 15% savings on cooling costs a year. On the other side, ecobee customers state a combined savings of 23% annually.
After air heating and cooling, water heating is the most expensive part of your energy bill. A smart water heater can save you anywhere between 10-30% on those costs.
Hit the easy stuff
The good news is that there are plenty of quick, easy, and inexpensive projects that have a far-reaching payoff. Here are a few additional things you can check off your list in a short amount of time.
Check seals around your windows and doors to prevent a 20% energy loss
Insulate your water heater pipes to automatically raise water temperature 2°F–4°F
Use cold water when running your washing machine whenever possible
Make sure your air vents aren’t blocked by furniture or curtains
Replace traditional incandescent bulbs with CFL or LED bulbs
Set your thermostat to an appropriate temperature when you’re not at home
Go big at home
Of course, there are some bigger projects you can do if you’re looking to go the distance. While these actions take a lot of time and investment, you only have to do these once or very infrequently.
Install or retrofit a ‘cool roof’ to avoid unnecessarily cooling your home
Check/add insulation to your attic and basement to keep heat and cold in
Place deciduous trees on the south and west side of your home
Look for the ENERGY STAR logo when buying new appliances
Install double-pane windows to prevent a 10-25% loss in heating and cooling
Visit dsireusa.org to see sustainable energy incentives by state
For the DIY in all of us
For a complete list of ideas and projects, check out all these tips and tricks to be energy efficient in every area of your home.