Energy-Efficient Home Makeover: 24 Ways to Save

    You may be surprised to learn that you don’t need to enforce strict lifestyle changes in order to make your home energy efficient. In fact, a growing number of homeowners have found easy ways to conserve energy and save considerable costs. Check out our expert tips for better living and start making changes that will save you money—and add longevity and value to your home.

     

    Sustainable Living

    Sustainable_Living

    Fuel prices have soared. Electric rates are volatile. And it’s hard to ignore the economic and market uncertainties in the leading oil-producing countries. In the wake of all this, “energy efficient” is becoming more than just a green-living-movement buzzword; it’s a simple lifestyle change for a growing number of homeowners who embrace sustainable living. It is possible to trim costs without significantly affecting your lifestyle—check out these smart ideas for saving energy in your home.

    Seal and Insulate

    Seal_and_Insulate

    Heating and cooling costs account for 45 percent of the average home’s energy tab. Seal gaps and cracks in your attic and basement and around windows and doors, and make sure your home insulation levels meet or exceed your local codes.

    Buy Energy-Efficient Products

    Energy_Efficient

    Look for the Energy Star label when you’re shopping for home items. More than 40 product categories feature the label, including major appliances and light fixtures.

    Get Tax Credits

    Get_Tax_Credits

    Get a tax credit while you’re saving energy dollars. You can receive up to $500 for using Energy Star windows, skylights, or storm doors, or adding home insulation, weather stripping, or caulk.

    Landscape to Save Energy

    Landscape_to_Save_Energy

    Landscaping can help save energy. Plant deciduous trees on the south and west sides of your house. In summer, the leaves will shade your house; in winter, the bare branches will let the sun through for added warmth.

    Add a Ceiling Fan

    Add_a_Ceiling_Fan

    Ceiling fans are a great way to conserve electricity year-round. They are economical and efficient, and they use about the same amount of energy as a 100-watt lightbulb. In summer, set your fan to spin counterclockwise, then set your thermostat a few degrees higher to save as much as 40 percent on your cooling bills. In winter, switch fan blades to spin clockwise and save up to 10 percent on your heating bills.

    Efficient Appliances

    Efficient_Appliances

    Find out what’s hogging energy in your home by monitoring how much energy your appliances use. A Watts-Up or Kill-a-Watt meter can determine how much power appliances are pulling. (You can find the meters at www.safehomeproducts.com.)

    Use Outdoor CFLs

    Outdoor_CFLs

    Because compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are rated differently than incandescent lightbulbs, divide the wattage of the incandescent bulb by four to determine the CFL wattage you should use.

    Modify Your Most-Used Lighting

    Modify_Most_Used_Lighting

    By replacing your home’s five most frequently used light fixtures or the lightbulbs in them with Energy Star-certified models, you can save about $60 each year in energy costs. Start with your outdoor porch light, the kitchen ceiling fixture, living room lamps, and the bathroom vanity.

    Change Least-Used Lightbulbs

    Least_Used_Lightbulbs

    You probably don’t need 100-watt bulbs in closets or a guest bedroom. Downgrade these and other less-used lights to 60-watt or even 40-watt bulbs.

    Switch a Light Switch

    Light_Switch

    A dimmer switch lets you reduce lighting when you don’t need it, and occupancy sensors turn lights off after you leave a room.

    Install Skylights

    Install_Sky_Lights

    Use daylight whenever possible. Install skylights in rooms with no windows. During the day, you might not need to turn on a light.

    Make the Most of Exterior Lighting

    Exterior_Lighting

    Motion sensors save energy, and you get affordable security that never rests.

    Think Long-Term

    Think_Long_Term

    Energy-efficient appliances may cost more up front, but they will pay for themselves over time.

    Grab a Paintbrush

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    Light paint colors on walls and ceilings reflect more light, making rooms brighter and reducing the need for high-wattage lightbulbs.

    Wash with Cold Water

    Wash_With_Cold_Water

    That “hot water for whites” laundry rule is bunk. Use cold water and a cold-water detergent, and save.

    Dry Full Loads

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    Use your laundry dryer’s full load capacity or you’ll blow hot air—and your dollars—out the vent.

    Air-Dry Dishes

    Air_Dry_Dishes

    Save money and energy: don’t use the heat-dry setting on your dishwasher.

    Match Pans to Burners

    Match_Pans_to_Burners

    A 6-inch pot on an 8-inch stove burner wastes more than 40 percent of the burner’s heat.

    Program Your Thermostat

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    A programmable thermostat can save you more than $100 a year in energy costs by helping you avoid unneeded heating or cooling while you’re away from home or sleeping. One option is a VisionPRO touch-screen Honeywell thermostat.

    Limit Bath Time

    Limit_Bath_Time

    A seven-minute shower with a 2.5-gallon-per-minute showerhead uses less water—and heat—than a full bath.

    Buy Local

    Buy_Local

    Choose earth-friendly products that used the minimum amount of energy to get to you. Consider that tile shipped from Italy travels halfway around the world; tile shipped from a local company uses much less energy as it moves from its source to you.

    Tighten Your Ductwork

    Tighten_Your_Duct_Work

    Remove any duct tape from your air-duct joints and seal them instead with duct mastic (a water-based acrylic sealer).

    Maintain Equipment

    Maintain_Equipment

    Call a licensed expert to check your heating and cooling systems annually. If they’re not working properly, you will spend more on energy and, potentially, repair costs. Remember to replace your air filter regularly, too.

     

     

    Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens. Used with permission. ©Meredith Corporation. http://www.meredith.com. All rights reserved.

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