There are multiple reasons to look for tips to save energy at home. Reducing your energy use is good for the environment—it's basically the same as getting that energy from a clean energy source—and also saves you money on energy bills.
How to Lower Your Energy Bill
Tips to save energy at home can be placed into two categories: energy efficiency and energy conservation. The difference between energy conservation and energy efficiency is subtle. Energy efficiency refers to how much energy it takes for a device to accomplish its task. Because energy conservation can refer to any means of lessening energy use, it technically includes energy efficiency improvements. However, it can also more specifically refer to strategies to reduce energy waste by making sure that appliances aren't using energy when they aren't being used.
Energy efficiency improvements can have significant upfront costs, but they're often the most convenient way to save on energy bills once installed. They generally require no more attention than their less efficient counterparts. Energy conservation techniques, on the other hand, frequently require your active participation and can be as simple as turning off a light when you leave the room.
How to Improve Energy Conservation
There are several ways to save energy at home that you can apply immediately. These include:
- Turn off lights, televisions and other appliances when you leave a room.
- Make sure windows and doors are shut before turning on your heating or cooling system.
- Plug electronics into a power strip so you can turn off power to them when not in use. Many electronics still use a significant amount of energy to maintain themselves in a standby mode even when turned off.
- Wait to wash clothes or dishes until you have a full load.
- Air dry dishes and clothes.
- Turn your water heater down to 120 degrees.
- Take short showers and use a low-flow showerhead.
Heating and cooling appliances are some of the biggest energy users in your home, so you'll want to be sure to conserve their usage. They should be turned down whenever you're away for extended portions of the day. You may be able to find other situations in which their use can be reduced without sacrificing your comfort, such as when you're sleeping.
A programmable thermostat is a great way to reduce heating and cooling use. You can program this thermostat to automatically change the temperature when you're away or sleeping, and return the home to a comfortable temperature before you return or wake up.
How to Improve Energy Efficiency
Most appliances come in a range of energy efficiencies. This is important when you're shopping for new appliances. Although less efficient appliances are usually priced lower, they may end up costing more over their life span due to the cost of the extra energy it takes to run them. For this reason, take into account an appliance's future costs before you purchase.
In most areas, heating and cooling account for the majority of a home's energy use, so their efficiency is especially important. There are a number of things that are important beyond simply purchasing efficient heating and cooling equipment. To live up to their efficiency ratings, they need to be properly installed and well maintained. Make sure they're installed by a quality contractor and that such maintenance tasks as changing the air filter are done regularly.
Another big factor on their energy use is how efficiently the heating or cooling they provide is used. The insulation and ductwork of your home have a big impact in this regard. It's not uncommon for ductwork to have sealing and insulation issues that prevent significant amounts of heating or cooling from reaching the areas where it's needed. Make sure that duct joints are well-sealed with mastic or quality metal-backed tape. Any ducts that pass through non-insulated areas of your home, like attics, should be well-insulated.
Your home should also be well-sealed and insulated. Air leaks allow conditioned air to escape to the exterior. You can take steps to reduce air leakage by caulking and weather stripping areas around windows and doors prone to air leakage.
Insulation helps reduce the rate at which heat escapes or enters your home. It's most important in the attic, which also tends to be the easiest place to add more insulation. How much you'll want depends on the climate in your area.
If you want more tips to save energy at home, contact the experts at Comfort24-7. Our NATE-certified technicians ensure superior service for residential and commercial customers in the Chicago area and throughout Northwest Indiana and Southwest Michigan.