You can reduce your energy consumption in big and little ways. Everything you do to reduce your home energy costs will not only help you by saving money, but it will also positively affect the environment and cut down on the use of non-renewable resources. We live in an energy-saving world that is constantly moving forward with technological advances that aim to:
• Provide energy efficient products
• Come up with ways to make saving energy simple and affordable
• Equip people with the knowledge they need to use energy more efficiently
It makes sense both financially and environmentally to understand as much as you can about how to reduce energy consumption in your home. Heating and cooling is the largest energy expense for the average home in the U.S. If you receive a full home energy assessment, you’ll be surprised at all the improvements you can make in your home while also saving money and lowering your carbon footprint.
If you’re interested in making a difference, it’s smart to learn about small things you can do to easily and affordably reduce your energy consumption. Sealing up air leaks and turning down your thermostat a few degrees while you’re sleeping will make a difference in your energy bill.
Another good example is your home idle load, which is the term used to describe the amount of energy your home pulls from appliances that are on the full-off mode but plugged in. Reducing or eliminating your home idle load can save the average U.S. household about $165 per year and collectively prevent 44 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution.
If you’re interested in reducing energy consumption in your household, consider educating your family members on the importance of cutting out wasteful usage. There are many notable reasons to use less energy. Here are the top six motivators to create a more energy-efficient household.
1. Technology offers easy and quick ways to save on energy costs. Advanced technology in manufacturing, the latest energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, the ever-growing availability of higher-quality and longer-lasting insulation, and simple energy conservation through smart Wi-Fi thermostats all prove that technology helps us save money.
2. Our natural resources need to be conserved. If each home does what it can to consume the least possible amount of energy, we can achieve a significant reduction in the consumption of fossil fuels. In the past 10 years, energy consumption of fossil fuels in the U.S has decreased from 85.7 BTUs in 2005 to 80.4 BTUs in 2014. However, our consumption of renewable energy sources is on a slow and steady increase from 6.2 BTUs in 2005 to 9.6 BTUs in 2014. With growing choices in renewable energy and the multitude of energy saving options available to the average home, we’ll see those BTUs continue to drop for non-renewable energy consumption.
3. You will increase the value of your home. Most homeowners understand how improvements made to their home benefit their comfort now and the resale value later. When you invest in programmable thermostats, seal your air leaks and add more insulation, your house will be more appealing to prospective buyers. When you invest in major renovations to improve energy efficiency or upgrade heating and cooling systems to high efficiency or geothermal options, you’re likely to see your house sell faster and at a higher price.
4. You’ll spend less on energy. Money motivates many people to become more knowledgeable about energy efficiency. Depending on the amount of changes you make, your savings could be in the hundreds for a month or for a year. Either way, you’ll save money on your utility bill and will welcome this financial benefit of improving your home’s efficiency.
5. Federal, state and local governments offer financial incentives for improving energy efficiency. Even utility companies offer some attractive incentives to encourage homeowners and businesses to reduce their energy consumption. Incentives vary according to location and date, so be sure to check out all of the possibilities.
6. Enjoy greater home comfort. You’ll likely enjoy your home more simply by reducing your energy costs, but having a home free of drafts and heat leakage will provide you and your family with physical comfort you can enjoy all year long.
Discover Energy-Saving Opportunities in Your Home
There are many resources available to provide you with information to discover effective ways to reduce your energy bill. You can search the Internet, talk with others about their energy-saving experiences and gather wisdom from books, magazines and other media. If you want to become well educated in learning to reduce home energy costs, it is definitely possible.
Households that have been part of the Weatherization Assistance Program have seen annual savings of $250-$450 through improvements to the energy efficiency of their homes. You could benefit from similar savings by making a habit being conscious of your energy consumption.
If you want to get the most thorough analysis of your home’s energy efficiency, have a professional perform a home energy audit. A certified home energy auditor will give you recommendations to improve the energy efficiency of every part of your home. You don’t have to wonder if you could improve your heating system or guess how much heat may be unnecessarily leaking from your house. The home energy auditor has the tools and knowledge to give you an accurate analysis.
How Home Energy Audits Save You Money
A home energy audit is a great investment and you don’t need thousands of dollars to do it. In fact, it pays for itself when you consider all the savings you’ll eventually achieve through the weatherization and efficiency steps you will take afterwards. You may also qualify for a free home energy assessment that will tell you:
• How much energy you are using
• How much is wasted energy
• The steps you can take to make your home as efficient as possible
The focus of a home energy audit is to identify the areas of your home that are wasting energy through:
• Air leakage
• Poor insulation
• Improper HVAC settings
• Various other factors that affect your home’s energy use
Trained professionals go over your house from top to bottom using high-tech diagnostic equipment to complete a thorough analysis. A professional will analyze your living space for energy efficiency and will also give you inexpensive suggestions to save on energy. You’ll receive recommendations to make your home a top-notch energy efficient home, even though you may not be able to implement them right away.
Even simple changes in heating, cooling and electricity can cause positive changes in your energy consumption, and many state and local utilities offer incentives to make your home more energy efficient. For example, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority offers free home energy assessments through the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program. To help you be more energy efficient, you could receive:
• A free or reduced home energy audit
• Federal and state tax breaks
• A low-interest loan to complete costly work
• A 10% discount on eligible home energy improvements
• Third-party quality assurance checks on home-performance contractors
Save Money on Your Utility Bill With These Energy Saving Tips
Both minor and major projects can provide you with the long-term benefits that come with reducing your energy consumption. From simply turning down the heating temperature a few degrees on your water heater to switching to geothermal energy, there are actionable tips – big and small – that you can consider in order to reduce your carbon footprint and save money on your utility bill.
Free or Low-Cost Energy Efficient Tips for Your Home
• Replace air filters at least once a year on air conditioners and furnaces
• Close all curtains at night to provide an added layer of insulation to your windows
• Install window plastic over windows to provide an added layer of insulation, especially to ones that are old and/or leaking
• Only use compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) and light-emitting diode (LED) light bulbs. Did you know that CFLs use 75% less energy than incandescent light bulbs and last about 8-10 times longer? LEDs use up to 75% less energy than incandescent and last up to 25 times longer.
• Seal and insulate all the common places of leaking air in your home: outlets and light switches, around pipes and wires, wall and window-mounted air conditioners, around doors and windows, baseboards, fireplace dampers and attic hatches.
• Install low-flow showerheads, which are available in different flow rates and can come with quick shutoffs on the head to easily stop water flow while lathering.
• Keep refrigerators and freezers away from sources of heat that will force them to use more energy to keep contents cold. This includes direct sunlight, ovens and heating vents.
• Unplug all chargers and cords when not in use — they still use small amounts of electricity even if nothing is plugged into them.
• Turn off your computer when you’re not using it, as well as your monitor if you’re walking away for a short time.
• Use a laptop instead of a desktop computer if possible. A laptop can use up to 80% less energy than a desktop.
• Do your laundry with energy efficiency in mind. Only run the washer when you have a full load. Don’t use the hot water setting unless you have heavily soiled laundry. The warm-water setting cleans just as well. A cold-water wash can be used for lightly soiled loads. Clean the lint trap on your dryer after every load to improve energy efficiency and eliminate a fire hazard. Air dry your laundry on outdoor lines and indoor racks as much as possible.
Invest a Little to Save a Lot
• Install smart/programmable thermostats to control the temperature more accurately. You can program the thermostat to reduce the temperature when everyone is sleeping and when no one is at home. Set your thermostat five degrees lower at night, for at least eight hours, and you could see a 5-10% savings in your heating bill.
• Install a ceiling fan or two to circulate the ambient air. When heating, set the fan to send the hot air downward. When cooling, use the fan to get comfortable air movement and eliminate the high cost and energy use that comes with running an air conditioner.
• Install 1.6 gallon water-saving toilets or a dual-flush toilet that uses less than a gallon for a liquid waste flush and 1.6 gallons of water for a solid waste flush.
• Buy ENERGY STAR appliances and electronics and keep them well maintained.
• Use convection ovens and microwave ovens more than conventional ovens. They use 30 – 80% less energy by cooking more efficiently than an electric oven
Major Changes to Reduce Energy Consumption
• Install renewable energy sources of electricity, such as solar panels and residential windmills, because they are natural resources that will never deplete.
• Get your heating energy from renewable sources like wood and wood pellets. Install a wood stove or pellet stove or install a geothermal heating system that moves the heat from the earth to your home.
• Install on-demand water heaters that only heat water when it’s needed.
• Install daylighting to use sunlight as your light source during the day.
Geothermal Energy Benefits and Details
Millions of people have realized the benefits of geothermal energy. While it’s costly to have the system installed, the long-term benefits are worth it. Using the heat that is naturally present in the earth, you can have a heating and cooling system uses energy to move heat instead of generate it, which is considerably less expensive than heating with gas or electricity.
A geothermal installation connects the inside of your home with the earth beside it. A heat pump is placed inside your home or underground and moves the heat by liquid in one of two ways:
• An open loop and closed loop system
• A direct exchange system
The geothermal system either takes heat out of the building and takes it underground (in the summer to act as a cooling system) or puts heat in the building from the ground (in the winter to act as a heating system).
As an alternative source of heat, geothermal energy is one of the highest return investments you can make to reduce your energy costs. For every dollar spent on natural gas using a high-efficiency forced air heating system, you can expect to get about 0.92 – 0.93 cents worth of heat in return. With a geothermal heat pump, you can expect to get $4 worth of heat from every dollar you spend on electricity to run the heat pump — and no cost to actually generate the heat!
You will see a return on the initial installation in about 3-5 years from reduced energy bills. There is little maintenance required on the system, which has a life expectancy of 20-25 years. Without even considering the inevitable increase in price of fossil fuel energy, you can see how geothermal energy is a wise investment.
Be Smart With Smart Home Tech Solutions
Using smart products in your home gives you benefits in several areas. Smart technology isn’t only about energy efficiency. It offers people convenience and efficiencies to save time, money and energy. Many new homes today are constructed as “smart” homes. They have appliances, heating, air conditioning, lighting, electronics and security systems that can communicate with each other and be set to a specific schedule and controlled remotely from any location in the world.
You don’t need to have these systems built into your home during construction. Your existing home can become fairly “smart” by installing some of these technological marvels over time. Here are a few smart products that you may want to consider installing in your home:
• Programmable thermostats connected to Wi-Fi
• Controlled lighting
• HVAC monitoring and remote operation
• Irrigation scheduling and control
• Monitoring systems that log usage of all connected devices
If you retrofit your house with smart home products, you’ll not only have greater control of your energy usage and whole home environment, but you’ll also be able to accurately analyze your home’s energy usage. You’ll have your home energy use statistics at your fingertips and be in a better position to knowledgeably cut costs and reduce energy consumption by adjusting settings through your smart home software.
Consider Bruni and Campisi
You’ve already taken a beginning step by reading this article to learn more cutting down on your energy consumption. Remember, there are many problems that are difficult to identify yourself, at least without the proper diagnostic equipment and training. Home energy audits provide in-depth analysis of your home environment and building structure and can uncover any number of problems that homeowners may not realize are energy related.