Energy Efficiency Tips for Your Home
10 Energy Savings Tips For Your Home
There are many things that homeowners can do to reduce their energy bills. Some ideas, such as installing-energy efficient windows & doors, can result in significant savings. Other simple ideas, such as insulating your electrical outlet and switch-plate covers, may result in smaller, but no less significant energy savings. That’s because these “smaller” ideas can quickly add up! Plus you’ll reap the benefits of energy dollar savings year after year.
Below you will find various tips that can lead to big time energy savings for your home. Each section can go a long way in lowering your monthly energy costs.
1. Perform a Home Energy Audit
A home energy audit is a great starting point for any homeowner wanting to make their home more energy efficient. An energy audit can help you assess how much energy your home uses and evaluate what measures you can take to improve efficiency. Audits alone do not save energy, it is important to implement the recommended improvements.
2. Upgrade to Energy-Efficient Windows & Doors
Undoubtedly the largest drain on energy is through your windows and doors.
Older wooden doors have lower R-Values than most doors made today, plus older doors shrink and warp over time. A pair of old exterior doors with no insulation can easily have an opening of 1/4″ where the doors meet. This doesn’t sound like much, but on a 6’8″ high pair of doors it adds up to the equivalent to a 4-inch square opening! Accent energy-efficient doors, manufactured utilizing fiberglass-reinforced engineered composite materials with poured-in-place rigid polyurethane foam, insure the best thermal protection.
Windows alone count for about 1/3 of your home energy consumption dollar. Choosing the right replacement windows for your home is one of the best decisions you can make to lower your energy bill, make your home more comfortable and reduce outside noise. And choosing the right glass for your windows is the biggest factor in your decision.
Today’s modern glass systems are designed to provide you with year-round savings and comfort by optimizing the sun’s heat and your home’s heating AND cooling systems.
When you are replacing windows in your existing home, Accent Windows glass systems save you money and make your home more comfortable all year long. Through increased R-values, solar heat gain control, UV protection, reduced noise transmission and increased comfort level, Accent Windows can solve all your needs.
3. Check gaps for air leaks
Gaps which leak air and energy dollars can be found in many places: where doors meet each other; where air flows through switch plate and electrical outlet covers; where air flows through broken windows; where window and door parts meet, etc.
Many kinds of caulking and weather-stripping materials are available to enable you to close these openings. To detect the gaps in the first place, feel with your hand, or watch a candle flame near a suspected spot. A “flicker” of the candle will confirm the energy leak.
A pair of old exterior doors with no insulation can easily have an opening of 1/4″ where the doors meet. This doesn’t sound like much, but on a 6’8″ high pair of doors it adds up to the equivalent to a 4-inch square opening! Add weather-stripping and close that gap!
Here’s a simple idea.
Add a gasket to your wall outlets and switches! Foam gaskets can be found at most hardware stores to put between your switch-plate covers and outlet covers and the wall.
4. Check your Attic and Wall Insulation
If your air conditioning runs a lot on hot days, or your furnace runs a lot on cold days you may have an undersized system…or you may simply be under-insulated in your roof or walls.
Try this simple test. Feel your walls. If your walls feel warm on a hot day, or cold on a cold day, they may require more insulation. Most existing wall systems are not easily insulated by the homeowner as do-it-yourself projects. For example, some wall insulation is “foamed in place”… meaning the wall cavities are “injected” with a liquid foam then solidifies as it dries.
Without proper insulation you may be paying more — and perhaps a lot more — than you should for heating or air conditioning. Check your attic for insulation. Many homes have easily accessible attics, allowing homeowners easy “do-it-yourself” opportunities to save by adding more insulation themselves. Check the table below to see the insulating values of many popular materials.
R-Value of Some Insulating Materials
Per Inch of Thickness*
|Fiberglass loose fill||2.5-3.0|
|Mineral fiber loose||2.5-3.0|
|Mineral fiber blanket||2.5-3.5|
|Cellular glass board||2.8|
|Cellulose loose fill||3.1-3.7|
|Mineral fiber board||3.5|
|Polystyrene molded bead board||3.6|
|Fibrous glass board||4.0|
|Polystyrene foam board||4.2|
|Polyurethane foam board||6.3|
|Polyurethane foamed in place||6.7|
|Polyisocyanurate foam board||7.2|
|Phenolic foam board||8.3|
*The R-values here are representative. Insulating products are labeled for actual R-values.
Insulation is undoubtedly an excellent energy investment.
5. Install a Programmable Thermostat
Studies conducted by the Department of Energy estimate that setting your thermostat back 10° for two 8-hour periods per day during winter can reduce your fuel bill by as much as 30%. By setting your thermostat up 5° for two 8-hour periods per day during summer you can reduce your fuel bill up to 25%.
You can install a programmable thermostat that can automatically turn your system on or off at certain times of day. Additionally, you can program these thermostats to operate on special schedules for weekday and weekend variations in on-off hours. You can even program your system to accommodate holidays and vacations.
A programmable thermostat will pay for itself many times over, especially if you are not in the habit of resetting your present thermostat manually.
6. Clean or Replace Filters and Service Regularly
You can waste energy dollars by overworking your heating or air conditioning system. Proper maintenance enables efficient equipment functioning. The filter on your warm air heating or cooling system may be blocked by the dust and dirt that it has screened out of the air. This makes the unit work longer. Some filters can be washed; others need to be replaced, perhaps every month or two. Check your owner’s manual to determine the proper replacement schedule. On an outdoor heat pump or air conditioning unit, cleaning the coil is also important to ensure efficiency.
“Balance” your central air system.
If you have a central system with warm or cool air distribution ducts, you may be working the entire system too hard–just to get a bit of warmth or cooling to the area furthest from the central heating or air conditioning plant. “Balancing” the system involves adjusting the volume control dampers (if your system has them) and adjusting the registers.
Have an expert service your HVAC unit. Ensuring your HVAC unit is operating efficiently is one of the best — and easiest — ways to save energy dollars. A tune-up by an expert can often save much more than its cost in energy savings in a single season.
7. Shed some Light for Savings
Your lighting is an excellent place to look for potential energy savings. Changes are often easy (as easy as changing a light bulb!) and cost nothing to make. Remove unneeded lamps …actually a “bright” idea! Lighting levels often are higher than necessary, because many homes were designed and built when energy efficiency was not a priority. A simple way to save energy dollars is to remove unneeded lamps where lighting levels may be reduced.
Where you have lamps or fixtures with two bulbs, you can simply remove one of the bulbs. Lamps with four bulbs can easily have one or two bulbs removed. With careful attention to people’s needs, you may be able to reduce lighting costs substantially without affecting comfort, productivity or safety.
Three-way bulbs are great idea. For example, in a lamp only occasionally used for reading use a 3-way 25/50/100 watt bulb, and only use the 100 watt phase for reading while using the lower wattage phases for normal lighting.
Turn off lights near windows. If your lights can be controlled separately, turn off those nearest the windows whenever there is enough natural light.
Replace incandescents with energy saving fluorescents or other new alternatives. The conventional incandescent light bulb is extremely inefficient, has a very short life and must be replaced frequently. Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) in place of comparable incandescent bulbs will save you about 50 percent on your lighting costs. CFLs use only one-fourth the energy and last up to 10 times longer. When you figure the true cost, the ordinary light bulb is not a bargain!
7. Reducing the temperature
In most homes, much of the need for hot water is for showers, laundry and doing dishes. And yet, lots of quite hot water — say 140° F — is kept at the ready all day long.
In such a case, the water heater could be set for a moderate temperature — say 105° F — or even lower. Below are some typical temperature requirements for hot water.
Hot Water Temperatures
|Hand washing||105 degrees|
|Dishwasher Rinse*||180 degrees|
*Even lower temperatures may be practical with some soaps and detergents. Most dishwashers only need water to enter at 140°F to boost it to 180°F.
There is usually an adjustable thermostat on the side of the storage tank of the water heater, but it may be hidden from view. You may need assistance to remove a few screws and a cover plate to get at it.
You can also use a timer to control operation of the water heater, for example, to reduce the energy use on weekends. Experiment to see what is the lowest thermostat setting that will meet your needs.
Here are a few of the many ways to use less hot water:
- Turn off the hot water tap when not needed
- Run full rather than partial loads in automatic dishwashers and clothes washers/dryers
- Try chemicals or other cleaning materials that will work well with less hot water than you have been using
- Insulate the tank with an insulating jacket and tubular insulation on the pipes
- Install water-saver shower heads
9. Don’t Forget about Appliances and Computers
A fast-growing type of energy use in the home is used by computers, printers, scanners and fax machines. Get in the habit of turning off your monitor when you’re away from your PC for 20 minutes or more. If you will be away for two hours or more, turn the PC off.
- Turn appliances on only when necessary
- Do not overload refrigerator or freezer
- Set controls only as low as necessary
Washing & Drying
- Reduce water temperatures
- Use cleaning materials that save hot water
- Maintain right dishwasher pressure
- Load machines fully
- Clean, tune and adjust, lubricate, replace worn parts, and otherwise maintain the equipment.
10. Buy for Efficiency
Make sure what you get is the right size and type, has a high efficiency rating, and uses as little energy and will accomplish your purpose.
The best way to achieve these objectives
- Get the advice of an expert
- Look for the Energy Star label
The Energy Star label identifies appliances such as stoves, refrigerators, air conditioners, appliances, etc., as well as electrical items such as personal computers, monitors, printers, copiers and fax machines which meet EPA standards. Additionally, the Energy Star label identifies which products can enter a low-power “sleep” mode when not in use and can awaken automatically when needed again.
Under the Energy Star Program, windows must meet regional criteria for u-value and solar heat gain to become an Energy Star qualified product. Choosing Energy Star qualified windows can cut your heating and cooling costs significantly. Accent Windows meets or exceeds the Energy Star requirements for all 50 states!
The DOE estimates that qualified windows can result in a payback of your investment in as little as three years. And, you’ll be doing your part to help the environment at the same time.