Reducing water consumption and creating a more energy-efficient home may be high on your going-green to-do list. Imagine the sounds of your house: The dishwasher running, one kid showering and the other jumping through a backyard sprinkler. You enter the bathroom and notice the faucet dripping. Make it stop!
While fixing a leaky faucet is a no-brainer, a weak tap is a drop in the bucket (no pun intended) when it comes to home energy usage. You could spend hundreds of dollars on a plumber to stop a leak while wasting gallons of water on daily showers and extra rinse cycles. On top of that, you have to consider the lights in all your rooms, too. There are certain energy-saving changes that may be obvious, but sometimes you need to look at the big picture to really make a dent in your home energy usage.
Take your heat, for instance, when in the middle of winter the temperatures have dipped below freezing. To keep energy costs low, you’ve donned your sweater and fuzzy socks for warmth — admirable, to be sure, but layering up isn’t enough on its own. If you could see the bigger picture of your home heating system, you’d be shocked.
When your heater kicks on, a significant amount of heat is lost through windows, under doors and through your roof. The energy saved by grabbing a sweater instead of turning up the thermostat is half the battle when it comes to heating costs. To create a real energy-saving home, explore solutions that offer the most bang for your buck. Additional insulation, double-pane windows and reducing drafts through weatherstripping will go a long way toward slashing heating costs, even if you bump the thermostat up a few degrees. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating accounts for 42 percent of a home’s energy bill. Keep that heat inside the house to shrink your energy bill long term.
Reducing the ecological footprint of your laundry routine is a great goal, but your house only uses 14 percent of its power to heat water, according to ENERGY STAR. And your washing machine is just some of that. Cutting back on how many loads you wash by strictly running full loads cuts energy costs as well, though it can be difficult when kids need sports uniforms almost daily.
Buying a new washer or dryer might seem like a lot of money, but your investment can reduce energy usage by as much as 50 percent if you choose an ENERGY STAR-rated appliance. When you replace your old washer and dryer, find the old one a new home. Many appliance stores haul away old appliances for a small fee and recycle as much as possible.
Although old appliances often need replacing if you expect them to be energy-efficient, they may also just call for an in-house fix. Little-known fact about dryers? Just because it’s taking longer to dry doesn’t mean it’s past its prime. The debris your lint filter doesn’t catch can actually clog up around the drum over time, increasing drying times. Clean it up by unscrewing the top of front panel of the appliance and using your floor vacuum’s hose extension to suck out the buildup. Estimated time to completion: Thirty minutes, according to Lifehacker.
Anyone with kids has told them to “Turn off the lights” about a million times. Kids have an innate inability to turn lights off when they leave a room. But turning off lights you’re not using is the tip of the iceberg when trimming your electric bill.
Upgrading old incandescent bulbs to LEDs will save you a significant amount of cash. The U.S. Department of Energy suggests that traditional bulbs use around 75 percent more energy, 90 percent of which is wasted as heat. Lost energy costs money and produces zero light. If your lamp still has traditional incandescent bulbs, you’re wasting money and energy no matter how little time you spend actually using it.
Small changes are often the easiest to make when working towards an energy-efficient home. If those changes are easy to incorporate into your day-to-day and save money, they’re a great place to start. However, you need to look at the big picture before investing in upgrades. Begin your journey with a home energy audit and check out these tips on creating an energy-efficient home. Start small but aim high when reducing your reliance on fossil fuels.