Would you like a greener home that’s energy efficient? Of course, we all would. We would all love to reduce our carbon footprint and lessen our guilt – but it’s costly and time-consuming, right?
For most, the idea of home energy improvements may seem out of reach. New energy-saving appliances, retrofit windows and major house remodels are expensive and if you’ve managed to put some money aside, you often can’t decide which upgrade will give you most satisfaction for the price.
It’s important that we all do what we can to reduce our output of carbon gases, even if an individual contribution seems insignificant. Many homeowners are finding innovative ways to focus on creating greener homes that are energy efficient AND save money.
These home energy improvements are sure to fit every budget or even no budget at all.
Home Energy Improvements for Every Budget:
1. Try the Good Old Air
It may seem like we’re teaching you to suck eggs, but it’s very surprising how many people don’t air dry their clothes! Wind is free. If you lack a garden, use indoor drying racks instead of dryers whenever possible. If you give the laundry an extra spin, it’ll reduce the drying time.
When using a dishwasher, turn off the heated drying cycle and leave the dishes to air dry. Not only will you save energy but also keep the kitchen cooler in the summer.
And the main thing to be conscious of is to ensure you don’t run cycles (either washing machine or dishwasher) until it’s full.
2. Attune the Thermostat
In summer months, you should try to turn off your heating completely. In winter, decrease it by five to ten degrees during the work hours. Or, turn it off and have set it to a timer to come on an hour before you wake up and an hour before you come home. As far as home energy improvements go, this is one of the most effective no-cost strategies that also keeps the utility costs at bay.
Rather than cranking the thermostat up and down, you can buy one that is programmable, so you don’t have to worry about remembering. A smart thermostat can even learn your preferences and adjust accordingly.
3. Get Smart with Lighting
The amount of money you can save on lighting largely depends on what type of light bulbs you are using. Incandescent (hot wire) and halogen bulbs are the least energy-effective, as their heat-light ratio is about 90 to 10. In other words, most of their energy is wasted on inefficient heating.
If you have a busy schedule and often forget to turn off the lights (don’t we all), Energy Star qualified CFL or LED light bulbs are the right thing for you. Their colour, quality, and performance have improved so much recently, while their price has dropped (yippee!) However, the best thing about LED bulbs is that they can be paired with motion sensors and smart home systems. You can also switch them on and off without compromising their 20-year life expectancy.
Compact fluorescent bulbs are a tad cheaper, but turning them on and off every time won’t extend their life expectancy.
Of course, there are tonnes of different types of lighting to explore beyond bulbs.
4. Consider Ceiling Fans
Before air conditioning was available, ceiling fans were the go-to cooling appliance. However, when coupled with an AC, a single ceiling fan can enhance the cool air circulation in your home.
And it doesn’t just end there, but by reversing the spin, you can also improve the warm air circulation when the heating is on.
5. Insulate the Attic
Heat escapes upwards, it’s a fact. Therefore, the roof is the heat’s main escape route. Home energy improvements like this won’t just make your house more energy-efficient, but could also create an additional room – this then translates to an increase in home value.
- Seal all your ‘Black Holes’
Seal your black holes to create a greener home. We’re not talking about deep space, ‘black holes’ mean something quite different here on planet earth; they are spaces of any size that allow air in and out of your home. Check your windows, doors, loft or basement as these are all potential areas where you may find a black hole lurking. Even your power outlets could be letting air through!
There are of course many different ways to seal your black holes, depending on where they are. Sometimes all it takes is some foam stripping which you can line door and window frames with. However, if the holes are quite large, then you may need to consider buying replacements.
- Replace your Windows
Older homes often have single pane windows that transmit cold air and let heat escape. If you can you should invest in some double-glazing windows – it’s expensive but most certainly a worthwhile investment.
If replacing your windows is not an option for a greener home, then sealing them is your best bet. Certain products such as double-sided tape and plastic sheeting can make this task relatively simple and inexpensive.
- Wrap your Boiler with a Heat Blanket
A great way to achieve a greener home is by helping your boiler our (meaning it’ll use less energy). Your boiler is the heart of your home’s energy and should be well looked after. The water will retain its temperature a lot better if you wrap the unit in a thermal blanket.
You’ll also want to make sure your water isn’t coming out too hot. To get a gauge on the temperature, start by setting the thermostat on your boiler to about 54C and then run the hot water tap closest to the boiler. This should be about right. If it isn’t, adjust as necessary.
- Insulate your Water Pipes
The first 2 metres of your hot water pipes ought to be insulated to reduce heat loss further. You can do this using an insulating foam sleeve, which is very cheap to buy from hardware stores and a great way to get a greener home.
- Wash Full Loads
If you have a dishwasher, wait until you can fill it to total capacity before you switch it on.
- Use a Low Flow Showerhead
Low flow shower heads are cheap to buy and come in a variety of different styles. They make no difference whatsoever to water pressure, and they can reduce your water consumption by up to 70% achieving a greener home.
To attach one, you just need to unscrew your current shower head and replace it simply.
- Switch to Organic Sheets
- Add Thermal Curtains
Another one of the easy home energy improvements is to swap your regular curtains for thermal-backed curtains. Thermal backing will help keep the heat inside your home and the cold out – again, saving you energy and money.
- Try Composting
Recycling at home is a given to a greener home; we all (and if you don’t then you really should) try our best by separating materials into different coloured bins etc., but the truth is we can always do more. Composting, for instance, isn’t something most homeowners do. It’s a big job – a rather messy and smelly one too – but once you learn how to manage compost, there will be no mess or stench at all.
From a small compost bin on your kitchen counter to a ‘compost shredder,’ which you toss all your nutrient-rich compost into before shredding and then sprinkling it in your garden, there are plenty of ways to compost.
- Use a Faucet Aerator
A faucet aerator is a little attachment which can save you a lot of money creating a greener home. All you do is just screw it onto your tap and it will add air to the water that comes out. You probably won’t notice a difference, but actually, you’ll be conserving a lot of water.
Following these tips will radically improve your home’s energy efficiency, set you on your way to a greener home AND save you a lot of money in the long run.
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