Whether its for the energy bill, the environment, or just to have a more comfortable home, this list will get you started on saving energy in your home today. Most of these tasks only take a few minutes so you could slowly implement them over a period of time…or you can go extreme and implement many of our tips over a long weekend and bask in some fast results.
Saving Energy – No Cost – Low Time
- Regularly check/clean your dryer vent to make sure it’s not blocked. Otherwise, you may find yourself drying your clothes for more than one cycle, also more importantly… it’s a potential fire hazard.
- Keep the fireplace flue damper closed. Better yet, put insulation in the flue and close it. (Just don’t forget to remove it when you want to light a fire.)
- Powers strips- Turn off your power strips when they aren’t being used.
- Set your programmable thermostat to as high as comfortable in the hot summer months, and as low as comfortable in the winter months.
- When you aren’t home set your thermostat to a reasonable temperature. This way you aren’t over heating/over cooling your home when no one is home.
- Vacuum the registers and vents. This should be done at very least on a yearly basis for aesthetics alone. Ideally it should be done quarterly.
- If you are going to be gone for a more than 12 hours don’t be afraid to turn your thermostat down to 55 degrees.
- Clean your outdoor air conditioner unit with a garden hose (power off). Also make sure that proper airflow exists around the unit.
- Clean off your refrigerator’s coils about two times a year to keep the refrigerator running efficiently.
- Close the door! To the fridge, oven, house.
- When warming up/boiling food on the stove, Put a lid on it!
Saving Energy – Low Cost – Low Time
- LED Lights. This is probably one of the easiest things you can do to save energy. I like these lights, they are a little brighter than standard incandescent but the color is pretty similar and it will be 20 years before you have to change them!
- Dim the lights- since you are already using LED’s, now you can reduce your power consumption and make those magical lights last even longer by installing dimmers in the rooms that you use most often.
- Are your kids, wife, or husband constantly leaving lights on? Mine are! In those rooms you may want to consider an occupancy sensor light switch.
- Exterior walls and outlets frequently means light drafts. If you go around the exterior portions of your home and count all of those sockets it can add up to quite a bit of drafty goodness. These socket sealers can definitely improve the energy efficiency and comfort of those rooms- plus they really are easy to install.
- Attic access points are a HUGE loss point for energy- in the summer your attic is the hottest place in your home and in the winter the heat can practically be blowing through those attic openings. Its hard to seal them up perfectly but this little contraption is pretty good at holding the temperature differences at bay. Attic Stairway Cover
- Do you have any unwrapped hot water pipes in your home? It may be worth considering wrapping those with some of this insulation and tape.
- Your water heater is likely in a crawl space, basement, or garage. Make its job a little easier by wrapping it up in this warm R-10 blanket. Make sure this is the right size for your water heater. On older water heaters this will save you between 7%-16% in water heating costs.
- Have you ever walked up to a door and been able to see light cracks all around it? Here’s what that door needs. Weatherstripping. Trust me, this is a huge energy saver AND also it’s much more comfortable!
- These window kits are really good for older windows. If you live in an older home you will want these, that is until you can afford to switch out those older windows.
- Fill around window and door cracks. There are a few different items that may be beneficial for this project. This is a low pressure insulation foam that can be used if the trim hasn’t been placed yet. Use caulk (pick the right color) if the trim is already in place, you will want one of these.
- Try these Surge Protectors. They eliminate the phantom loads and claim to save up to $100 per computer.
- Make sure the cracks around your fireplace are sealed well. If you have an insert, a thin layer of insulation works well.
- Do you have a window that just takes on a little to much heat during certain times of the year? This window film can help lower the amount of UV light making it into the home.
- Check the refrigerator doors seal. Try closing a folded piece of paper in the door, if you can easily pull it out you may need an update.
- Avoid opening the oven to look at food- that heat was valuable in there and it will take some time to reheat all the air lost.
- Quit spending copious amounts of time snacking out of the fridge- every time you open the fridge or freezer you are wasting energy.
Saving Energy – Low Cost – Medium Time
- Inspect dirty spots in your attic insulation. These indicate air leaks- explore the area around it and use low expansion spray foam to seal them off.
- Install a drain water heat recovery system. These systems are much easier to install as new construction. However, the idea is to try to extract the heat from drain water to preheat cold water coming into the hot water system. We can do this by wrapping the water that goes into the water heater around the drain lines of drain pipes such as showers.
- Install curtains and/or blinds and open them up during the day for heat and close them at night to keep your home warm. I really like these honeycomb shades.
Saving Energy – Medium Cost – Low Time
- When was the last time you changed your HVAC filter? Most filters are supposed to be changed out monthly. I hate purchasing filters. My recommendation is to purchase two of these guys and rotate them so that you always have one on hand that is clean and you’ll never have to buy another one. Changing these on a regular basis will make your furnace run more efficiently which will save you money! Just make sure you get the right size.
- Do you have a thermostat that you are always changing to try to keep your home comfortable and not spend all your life’s savings on the gas and electric bill?. Last year we bought an Ecobee, there are other great options out there, however we needed the extra sensor for our upstairs which made the Ecobee the right choice for us.
- Do you heat your home with wood-burning fireplace? If so, you should have it regularly cleaned and inspected. When available, burn wood that is going to give you a higher BTU per cord. If you purchase wood you may consider looking at the BTU chart as well to determine whether its worth spending a little extra on Apple wood over Quaking Aspen.
Saving Energy – Medium Cost – More Time
- Check out your attic insulation. Are there bare spots? How many inches deep is it? Unless you are in an extremely temperate climate, you want a lot of insulation. My personal ideal is 16-17 inches deep. Attic insulation is fairly easy to add into your home, or so I’ve heard. I might be procrastinating on this one and my 43 year old house definitely needs it.
- If you are going to add extra insulation to the attic don’t ever cover up any attic vents.
- Garage door insulation kit- If you spend any time in your garage in the winter (perhaps as a shop) then you may want to get your garage door sealed up.
- Consider installing a new garage door bottom– These need replaced over time but its nice to get the air in your garage sealed in nice and tight.
- Add batt insulation to the rim joists. This is the area right above the foundation. For an even better seal, put an inch of spray foam against the wood and any seams. Then place the insulation batting after it dries. Figure out how much spray foam you need first (measure) because it can go from $3 per square foot to less then a $1 a square foot depending on the quantity you are looking for.
- Install exterior window shades and use them. In the hot summer months this could save you about 25% on your cooling costs.
- Don’t like the look of exterior window shades? How about looking at Houzz for some inspiration on designing an awning? We can help with the details or you can go to a builder with your ideas.
- If your basement isn’t heated then consider insulating between the two floors with batt insulation. Insulation batting is probably going to be cheapest at a local store of orange or blue color.
- Use ceiling fans. A slight breeze can change your perception of how hot the space is by a few degrees. Rule of thumb is that every degree you are either heating or cooling costs you an additional 3%. Meaning 3 degrees is going to cost you about 9.3% more on your energy bill.
- Fix leaky faucets, especially if it is the hot water. In our case we had a leaky faucet that I estimate was using an extra 200 gallons of water per month. This is nearly approaching what one person uses per month.
- Use low-flow faucets and shower heads where possible.
- Install daylighting in a few key areas. This allows you to leave the lights off even more frequently. A good example of this would be light tubes.
Saving Energy – High Cost – Professional Installation
- Ductless Mini Splits can also be a great resource. I work in my attic and it gets pretty hot in the summer. I’ve been eyeing the ductless mini split since my first summer up here. I just haven’t pulled the trigger yet. Amazon has a few listed but its fairly likely that you are going to want to get a professional to install these anyway, so you may want to go talk to them. There may also be tax incentives and or utility incentives for installing these, so check that out as well.
- Whole house fans can be a pretty impressive asset. When we lived the Sacramento area we came across them pretty frequently and people loved them. Most of the Rocky Mountain region where we live now would benefit from them as well because of our cool nights. Sadly I can’t honestly recommend which one. But you can check out this list and decide for yourself. The idea is to flip them on once its cooler outside then inside. Open up your lowest windows in the home and the fan will draw the cold air up through the home.
- Do you have a remote location that needs hot water? Or are you using less than 41 gallons of hot water a day? If so you should look into installing a tankless water heater. I would once again defer to whoever is going to install it both for their recommendations and on sizing it for what you will be using it for.
- Solar Hot Water. There are a variety of options in the solar hot water arena. Evacuated tubes are likely the most efficient and will work in colder climates. Flat Plate Collectors have a lower upfront cost and if you are in warmer climates they will probably be sufficient year round.
- If you heat with an open fireplace you should consider installing an insert. They are well worth the money. You will notice a huge change from the open fireplace to an insert. Some estimates to as high as 6x more efficient. My father installs them so I am a pretty big fan of wood heat. If you are interested in an insert check out the Napoleon units which is what I am most familiar with. I also have a friend who swears by the Princess unit from Blaze King and I have to say that I am impressed with them as well. I believe it’s best to get these from a brick and mortar store or talk to an installer. You will likely pay close to the same amount and talking to an expert is always best.
That is all 50 of my energy saving tips! If you have other ideas or thoughts on Energy Saving please share them with us!. Everybody likes saving money, the environment and being more comfy, so get crackin’ on the list above.
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