Save money, cut your energy consumption, and live more environmentally friendly. Discover 50 ways to make your home more energy efficient.
A unit saved is a unit generated.
This is the slogan for everyone working towards energy efficiency. Energy efficiency is a topic discussed on many forums – from home budgets, power generation, and energy self-sufficiency to climate change and global warming.
What is implied by energy efficiency? What exactly is to be done to achieve this? Can individuals do anything about it? How can it help?
This article presents an overview of energy-efficient strategies you can adopt as an individual and how they can impact some of the major catastrophes the world is facing today. You will find here 50 strategies to make your home more energy efficient.
How can your energy-efficient approach help?
To answer this question, we need to go back to the first statement – a unit saved is a unit generated. The generation of each unit of energy contributes to climate change and global warming as it adds to the carbon footprint.
One unit of electricity is equal to one Kilowatt-hour (kWh). An average American household consumes 900 units of electricity in a month. And there are 128 million households in the US as per the latest statistics. This means if you manage to save one unit of energy in a month, it will translate to a staggering 128 million units for the country in one month.
Saving one unit of energy means avoiding the use of one kW electric device for an hour. Or two 500W devices for two hours. You can do much better than saving one unit of energy with energy-efficient installations.
If you are building a new home, it would be easier to keep the carbon emissions to a minimum with zero-carbon technologies. You can do the same in older homes by retrofitting such systems and devices. The incentives offered by the federal, state, and local governments can help ease the financial burden.
If you are looking for ideas for an energy-efficient home, here are the best of them all. While some of them are easier to install, others may require professional help.
50 energy-saving methods and technologies for home
1. Audit your energy consumption
This means understanding your energy consumption and making a list of electrical appliances you use. Getting a better understanding of the energy usage of each device can help you figure out where energy loss is happening and how you can save energy. You can do this yourself or get professional help.
2. Switch off lights
Few people realize that we don’t need all the lights in the house switched on round the clock. Make it a habit to switch off the lights as you leave a room.
3. Move to energy-efficient light bulbs
A 60-Watt incandescent bulb produces the same light as a 15-watt CFL bulb or 10-watt LED bulb. For you, everything works the same by switching to LED. You can still end up saving considerable electricity.
4. Use just enough lighting
Every room need not look like a movie shoot. Having too many lights can spoil the mood and the ambiance. Adopt functional lighting when designing your home.
5. Use minimal temperature setting
The heating system is the biggest energy consumer at home. Reducing the temperature setting even by one degree can help you save substantial electricity. Experts recommend 68°F as the ideal temperature.
6. Install programmable thermostat
With this, you can use the heating only when required. And not keep it always switched on.
7. Don’t keep appliances connected to power
Appliances that are used intermittently continue to consume small quantities of energy when on standby mode. They add up to a tidy sum. It may be extra work to unplug them when not in use. But it would be worth it.
8. Use a power strip for charging needs
Besides the spike protection it offers, it is easier to turn off the power to the chargers with a power strip. Chargers continue to consume small quantities of energy even when not charging.
9. Avoid overcharging
Once a device is fully charged, it is a waste of energy to keep it plugged in. the device cannot use the energy anymore, but the charger would be still using up electricity.
10. Use just enough brightness
Devices with a visual display like TVs, laptops, and phones allow you to adjust the brightness. Besides being harmful to your eyes, more brightness drains the battery faster and consumes more energy.
11. Keep your appliances clean
The accumulated dust, dirt, grease, and debris can bring down the efficiency of electric appliances. Cleaning them periodically can help in making them energy efficient.
12. Ensure your windows are weather-proofed
Over time, caulking may come off and allow the outside weather to influence the inside room temperature. Checking the weather strips and sealing can help you prevent heat seepage.
13. Use good insulation on roofs
As newer technologies are emerging, the construction of roofs offers an excellent way to save energy. With better insulation, you can avoid heat loss through the roof.
14. Provide extra insulation
In older homes, the insulation already in place may not be good enough. You can add more insulation to the roof and walls to save energy.
15. Ensure garage door has insulation
Homes with internal entry to the garage should take care to insulate the door. This is an obvious way to lose heat.
16. Get a storm door
Storm doors come with glass that prevents thermal loss. Installing this for your front and back doors can help you save substantial energy.
17. Insulate heating ducts
If the ducts pass through uninsulated portions of your home, it can result in avoidable heat loss. Wrapping and insulating the heating ducts can prevent this.
18. Make your windows thermal proof
Switch to double or triple glazed glass panels for your windows. This simple modification can save you considerable energy.
19. Add another layer of glazing
If you feel the expense of changing window glass is too much, you can add one more layer of double glazing. It may not help you conserve as much but something is better than nothing.
20. Switch to vinyl frames
The conventional aluminum frames are poor insulators, while vinyl frames can be helpful in keeping the heat in. This small change can create a huge difference.
21. Install tinted windows
This can definitely help in preventing energy loss through windows. Whether you are using heating or air conditioning, tinted glasses can keep down your energy consumption.
22. Run washing machines on energy-saver mode
Choose the cycle you run on your washing machine with care. Is the temperature too high? Is the dry cycle too long? How long does it take? Choose the cycle that is just enough for your needs. Run the machine only when it is full.
23. Use the washing line to dry
Spin dryers are quite useful in getting your laundry done. If you are energy conscious, you can avoid this and choose to dry the clothes in the old-fashioned clothesline. This doesn’t consume any energy.
24. Switch to energy star appliances
Older appliances use technologies that are less energy efficient. Besides this, their energy efficiency comes down over time and use. Periodical updating of appliances can help you save significant energy.
25. Use drapes
Thick drapes can help in preventing heat loss through windows. Blinds are another option to consider. It is easier to open them to allow sunlight in when needed.
26. Look for alternatives to heat water
Depending on your location and access to technology, solar or geothermal water heaters are the most economical. With this change, you can bring down your energy consumption from the grid.
Related: Solar Home Heating Guide
27. Install low water usage taps and showerheads
The less water you consume, the less energy you need to heat it or pump it to the overhead tank. You won’t feel any difference either. It is a win-win.
28. Service your heating system regularly
All devices accrue wear and tear with daily usage. Periodical servicing is necessary to keep them running efficiently. It is also vital for keeping energy usage minimum.
29. Install solar panel
If not fully, supplementing your energy needs with solar panel installation can reduce your energy consumption from the grid. Advances in technology have made it possible to upload energy to the grid instead of using it.
30. Supplement your energy usage with wind turbines
If your location is suitable for generating wind energy, it makes sense to adopt the technology. You can use batteries to store the energy generated for later use. Or you can make money by exporting excess energy generated to the grid.
31. Geothermal energy for heating
Again, location is the key to the adoption of this technology. You can heat your home and have water heaters at no extra cost using geothermal energy. This can reduce your dependence on grid energy.
32. Solar outdoor lighting
If you are reluctant to switch to solar for indoor needs, you can try it for your outdoor lighting needs. The investment cost and labor involved will be lesser. These lights can reduce your overall energy consumption and at the same time bring in decorative value.
33. Ceiling fans can ensure better air circulation
The heat generated within the room can be efficiently circulated with the help of a ceiling fan. As hot air tends to rise, leaving the lower-level cooler, you will have to generate more heat to get the desired temperature. A ceiling fan can resolve this with minimal cost.
34. Ensure all rooms get sufficient daylight
At the time of construction, enough attention needs to be given to the building plan so that all the rooms will have multiple windows bringing in natural light. This will bring down the need for electric light during the daytime.
35. Install light shelves
This is a device installed on the windows to reflect natural light deep inside the room. The more natural light you can manage, the less dependence on grid energy.
36. Ensure suitable flooring
Heat loss can happen through the floor as well. Proper insulation and appropriate flooring can help in reducing the heat loss through the floor. Vinyl flooring and carpets can help in this regard.
37. Use dark/light paints
While dark shades absorb more heat energy, lighter shades tend to reflect it. Depending on whether you want the interior warmer or cooler, you can choose the paint color. Paints specifically meant for this purpose are also sold in the market.
38. Go back to the old ways
Nowadays, from beating an egg to extracting fruit juice, we tend to use electric appliances. The traditional whisk, blender, and juicer also will get you the same results. Opting for manual devices can help you cut down on electricity consumption.
39. Heat just enough water
Without much thought, we tend to fill the kettle to the brim. After your use, the remaining hot water is allowed to cool down and ultimately thrown away. It is a waste of water and energy. With a bit of change in our habits, we can eliminate energy wastage.
40. Use the lid when cooking
Cooking food in an open pot may be easier but it is not energy efficient. The food takes longer to cook. Using pressure cookers can reduce your cooking time and energy usage considerably. If you must cook in a pan, at least cover it with a lid.
41. Use the right flame
Placing smaller pans on bigger burners can result in energy wastage. Ensure that the flame of the burner stays within the diameter of the pan.
42. Allow food to cook in its own heat
Most cooking vessels retain a great deal of heat when cooking. This means even after you turn off the stove, the food in it will continue to cook. Turn the burner off before the food is fully done. Let it finish cooking later.
43. Use microwave oven
Food cooks much faster in a microwave than in an oven. Whenever possible, use a microwave for cooking needs.
44. Defrost food before cooking
You will need more energy to heat frozen food than from room temperature. Allow the frozen food to sit outside long enough to bring it to room temperature. This can help you save substantial energy.
45. A full freezer is more energy efficient
When buying a refrigerator, choose the one with just enough space for your needs. Buying too big a refrigerator can lead to wastage of energy. A half-full freezer consumes more energy than a full freezer.
46. Avoid keeping warm/hot food in the refrigerator
Allow the food to cool down before refrigeration. Placing hot/warm food in it leads to more energy consumption as the compressor will have to work extra hard to bring the temperature of the food down. This added strain can also damage the compressor in the long run.
47. Reconsider the need for a dishwasher
It is indeed a boon to those who are hard-pressed for time. However, you need not wash everything in it. Run it as sparingly as you can. Manage the odd pots and pans outside. Ensure it is fully loaded before every cycle. Avoid the dry cycle if you can. The remnant heat is enough for that.
48. Get a washing-up bowl
Instead of allowing the hot water from the faucet to flow freely, you can utilize a washing-up bowl to save on hot water. Reduced hot water used means less energy consumed.
49. Dress warmly
When you are at home, wear thermals, socks, or a jacket to keep yourself warmer. This can help you keep the temperature of the heating system lower. This means less energy spent on heating.
50. Use an extra blanket
With an extra blanket, you can manage the thermostat at a lower temperature at night. In case this is not good enough, use an electric blanket. Though this also consumes energy, you don’t need to heat the entire room to feel warm. This means the consumption is lower for the electric blanket.
That rounds up fifty great energy-saving ideas to make your home more energy-efficient.
You may already be following some of them. But you must have found some interesting new suggestions here that you would like to try.
Improving the energy efficiency of your home is not a one-time affair. It is a constant endeavor that you need to follow as newer innovations appear in the market. It is more an attitude and a lifestyle.