Energy efficient buildings are becoming more and more popular and for good reason. Not only do they cost less money to heat in the winter and cool in the summer, but they’re also better for the environment. The trend of making buildings as energy efficient as possible using Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) standards has made its way to new apartments, condos, and homes throughout the U.S. and around the world.
Even if your home is too old to have been built with those standards in mind, you can still make it more energy efficient with a few upgrades and a few quick and easy DIY projects. Here are 10 ways to save on your next electricity bill that won’t break the bank.
Plant trees in your yard and shrubs near windows.
Even small trees can make a big difference in your home’s energy bills by providing shade and limiting the amount of direct sunlight that passes through your windows. And as the trees grow, the shade they provide grows as well. Shrubs provide the same effect if they cover portions of your window. Just be sure to trim them as needed to prevent them from completely blocking your view.
Unplug all electronics when not in use.
Did you know that electronic devices use electricity even when they aren’t plugged in? As long as a device is plugged into the wall, it draws power. That’s why it’s important to unplug any devices that aren’t in use, including things like televisions, video game consoles, DVRs, computers, and cell phone chargers. To make it easy, plug your gadgets into a surge protector and unplug the entire strip from the wall when you leave your home for an extended period of time or go to bed at night to save energy.
Don’t pre-rinse your dishes.
If you have a modern dishwasher, it’s unnecessary to pre-wash or pre-rinse your dishes. Dishwashers and dish detergents are now designed to work best on dishes that still contain food particles. Next time you load your dishwasher, scrape off any large pieces of leftover food and place the dishes directly into the rack. Not only will you save water and energy, but your dishes may actually come out cleaner than ever.
Open windows during the spring and fall.
Take advantage of mild weather during the spring and fall by opening windows as often as possible. The fresh breeze and fresh air makes your home smell and feel great and the pleasant temperatures will reduce the workload on your AC unit. You can also take advantage of cooler temperatures at night during the summer by opening your windows and letting in the cool night air.
Install a programmable thermostat.
If your home or AC unit are compatible, consider installing a programmable thermostat. These thermostats help keep your home’s temperature at an ideal setting to coincide with your schedule, including time spent sleeping, at work, or on trips away from home. Many programmable thermostats are capable of saving homeowners $100 or more in energy bills over the course of a year.
Reseal doors and windows.
Drafty doors and windows are terrible for your home’s energy bill and efficiency. They let out warm air in the winter and cool air in the summer and force your AC unit to work overtime. Although the rest option is to often replace old windows with more energy efficient models, you can also get most of the benefits by resealing the edges of your windows and doors. Install door sweeps at the bottom of every exterior door of your home and apply fresh caulk around the perimeter of your windows to create a new seal.
Use fans instead of your AC unit in the summer.
AC can be a godsend in the summer, but it’s also very inefficient at keeping your home cool. That’s why electric bills are often much higher in the summer than during any other time of year. Instead of relying solely on your AC unit to cool your home, consider using fans. Ceiling fans or oscillating fans help keep air moving throughout your home and make each room feel much cooler during the hottest months of the year.
Replace light bulbs with CFL or LED models.
Incandescent light bulbs have been around since the mid-1850s and are quickly becoming obsolete due to compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Not only do these new generation of bulbs produce less heat and more natural light, but they also use much less energy and can last 10 times longer than traditional bulbs. While replacing one bulb in your home may not make a big difference, replacing every bulb can make a big difference in your energy bill in the years to come.
Install solar panels.
Although more expensive than many of the tips in the list, installing solar panels is a highly efficient way to not only improve your home’s energy efficiency, but it will also reduce your home’s dependence on traditional electricity provided by the power company. Even a single solar panel can provide significant savings over a long period of time, and many qualify for tax incentives. You can also add more solar panels as the years go by to increase your savings.
Replace your appliances with Energy Star certified models.
If you have an older home, many of your appliances may be from an older era before manufacturers began releasing Energy Star certified models. Everything from refrigerators, ovens, dishwashers, and washers and dryers are available with Energy Star certifications. That means they can operate while using much less electricity than their standard, non-Energy Star compliant counterparts.