No matter how you slice it, the expenses of properly heating, cooling, and lighting your home can add up over time. Energy costs seem to be rising at every turn, and that can really pinch your budget. And let’s face it — wouldn’t you like to save money on utilities and put those savings somewhere else, such as paying off old bills or investing in a new car, a fun vacation, or your child’s college fund?
For this reason and many others, it’s a smart decision for homeowners to make sure their homes are as energy efficient and cost effective as possible. And it doesn’t have to be hard to do so. The expenses you invest in making changes can be well worth the long-term savings you’ll enjoy from an energy-efficient home.
These 10 tips will turn you into your family’s money saving hero, and help you save money and turn your home into an energy-efficient dwelling that your neighbors will envy.
1. Know what your utility costs are paying for.
Yes, you know you’re paying for heating, air conditioning, electricity, and water. But do you know how much of your utilities costs goes into each of these areas? Having a sense of how these costs break down can help you choose what changes to your home will produce the greatest cost savings for you over time.
On average, your utilities expenses will break down as follows, according to the U.S. Department of Energy:
- 44% — heating and cooling your home
- 33% — lighting and most appliances
- 14% — water heater
- 9% — the refrigerator (yes, it’s that high, all on its own!)
2. Get an energy audit.
A professional energy auditor can help you identify areas of your home where a more energy efficient solution is more likely to significantly save you money. The auditor will look for areas where energy is being wasted and offer solutions.
3. Install low-flow fixtures.
Much of a home’s water waste is the result of old fixtures that use a lot of water. Today’s faucets, shower heads, and toilets are designed to use less water — which can save you as much as 50% on your water bill.
4. Banish incandescent bulbs.
These old-fashioned bulbs are what you may be used to, but they use a lot of electricity. Modern fluorescent bulbs and LED lights use much less power, and they last 20 times longer than incandescent bulbs — creating great long-term savings.
5. Unplug electronics when not in use.
Computer monitors, battery chargers, and other modern electronics can draw a lot of electricity when plugged in, even if they are not actively in use. And if you have a lot of these items plugged in, you’re wasting electricity that you could be saving on. Simply unplug them when they’re not in use.
6. Buy modern, energy-saving appliances.
Older appliances often use twice as much water and electricity as today’s new, energy-efficient models. A new dishwasher uses nearly 50% less water than older models, while a new refrigerator can save you as much as $1,000 in its lifetime. Look for the Energy Star label, which signifies the appliance is considered top in its class for energy efficiency by the U.S. EPA and Department of Energy.
7. Cue up the ceiling fans.
It’s tempting to crank up the air conditioning when warm weather arrives, but fans use a lot less energy than the A/C unit and can cool your home by 4 degrees. Try making use of fans throughout your home. Install ceiling fans if you don’t have them. And in winter, most ceiling fans can be reversed from counter-clockwise to clockwise, which directs heat back to floor level, improving warmth without upping the thermostat.
8. Install a programmable thermostat.
Of course, once cold weather arrives, you’ll want your home comfortably warm. But if you have an old house, the heating unit and thermostat may be out of date. A new, programmable thermostat can help save money in two ways — it works better at setting your home’s temperature than an old unit, and it can be programmed to drop the temperature when you’re away and turn it up when you get home, so you don’t waste heat when you’re not around.
9. Add insulation.
Your attic, basement, and crawl spaces can leak a lot of heat and air conditioning. Make sure they are properly insulated with the right amount of material — 12 inches or more of fiberglass, or 8 inches or more of cellulose for the best insulating results.
10. Replace doors and windows.
One of the most significant ways that a home can waste heat and air conditioning is through drafty doors and windows. If your doors and windows are in great condition except for a few gaps, you might be able to simply add caulking and weather stripping. But if your doors or windows are old, hard to open, broken or otherwise impaired, it’s time to consider replacements. The investment will save money on heating and cooling expenses, while also improving your home’s security and curb appeal.
Remember, having an energy efficient home is a great way to save money — but it also makes your home more enjoyable to live in. Energy-saving measures can lend your home a beautiful, updated appearance and vibe that adds to your home’s value and enhances its curb appeal. And modern, energy-efficient upgrades give you the advantage of enjoying a home that requires less investment in maintenance too.
John McCarter Construction is here anytime you need assistance upgrading your Michigan home and improving its energy efficiency, durability, and appearance. Contact us at 248-446-1750 for a consultation and a free, detailed quote.