The average household spends over $2,000 per year on energy bills. Most of this money goes toward heating, cooling, and lighting your home. But a portion of this money is spent on energy that is wasted due to aging appliances, air leaks, and inefficient heaters and air conditioners.
By reducing the amount of energy you waste at home, you could drastically lower your energy bills. Fortunately, there are plenty of DIY energy solutions that can help you improve your home’s energy efficiency, reduce your carbon footprint, and save hundreds of dollars on utility bills. Here’s what to do:
Insulate the Water Heater
Adding insulation to your water heater could reduce standby heat losses by up to 45% and save up to 16% in water heating expenses. All you will need to complete this project is a few household items and a water heater insulation kit, which can be purchased for about $20 from a home improvement store. Then, follow these steps:
- Turn off your water heater.
- Wrap the insulation blanket around your water heater and tape it to temporarily secure it.
- Use a pen to mark the areas on the blanket that are covering up important controls on your water heater.
- Remove the insulation blanket and cut out these areas so you can still access the controls once the insulation has been added.
- Wrap the insulation blanket around the water heater and secure it in place with tape.
New water heaters might not need additional insulation. The best way to determine if you need to add insulation is to touch your water heater. If it feels warm to the touch, this means it needs additional insulation.
Lower the Water Heater Temperature
Lowering the temperature on your water heater is another simple way to improve your home’s energy efficiency. The default temperature on most water heaters is 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but that’s unnecessarily high. At this temperature, your water heater could waste over $450 per year in standby heat losses and demand losses.
Lowering the temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit will reduce these losses and lower your monthly utility bills without impacting your hot water supply. Follow these steps:
- Let hot water run from the faucet that is the farthest away from your water heater. Then, use a thermometer to measure the temperature of this water.
- Turn the thermostat on your water heater down.
- Wait several hours before repeating the first step to measure the new temperature of your hot water.
- If you are satisfied with the new temperature, you won’t need to do anything else. But if it’s still too high, repeat steps one through three until you’ve reached the right temperature.
Lowering the water heater temperature will not only save energy, but it will also slow mineral buildup and corrosion, which could extend the lifespan of this appliance.
Upgrade to Energy Efficient Appliances
If your appliances are old, consider upgrading to ENERGY STAR® appliances. Every appliance with an ENERGY STAR® label is designed to save energy without sacrificing quality or performance.
Potential energy savings vary depending on the appliance. ENERGY STAR® dishwashers are 10% more energy efficient and 20% more water efficient than standard models, whereas ENERGY STAR® clothes washers use 25% less energy than other models.
The amount of energy that these appliances need to operate is surprisingly low. For example, an ENERGY STAR® refrigerator consumes less energy than a 60-watt light bulb.
Purchasing new appliances requires a big financial investment, but these appliances will save so much energy that they will eventually pay for themselves over time.
Replace Light Bulbs
Lighting accounts for about 12% of your annual energy expenses. To reduce your energy bills, replace your current light bulbs with energy efficient light bulbs.
Ninety percent of the energy used by traditional light bulbs is given off as heat, or in other words, wasted. Energy efficient bulbs use less energy and provide the same, if not better, lighting quality.
The two most popular types of energy efficient light bulbs are compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light emitting diodes (LEDs). CFLs use about 25% of the energy and last up to 10 times longer than traditional light bulbs. LEDs use between 20-25% of the energy and last up to 25 times longer than traditional bulbs.
CFLs and LEDs are more expensive than traditional light bulbs, but they will pay for themselves in less than a year because they save so much energy.
You won’t need to replace every bulb in your house in order to lower your utility bills. Instead, focus on replacing the light bulbs in the five most frequently used light fixtures to start saving energy and money.
Implement Energy Efficient Landscaping Strategies
Landscaping does more than improve your home’s curb appeal. The right landscaping strategies can also help you save energy and money.
Using landscaping to provide shade for your home is one of the most effective ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency. Follow these tips:
- Plant a six to eight foot deciduous tree near your home. This tree will start to provide shade within its first year.
- Plant deciduous trees to the south of your home to block up to 90% of the sun’s heat during the summer.
- Trees with crowns that stay close to the ground should be planted to the west of your home to block the sun’s heat in the afternoons.
- Shade your patio by planting low shrubs or allowing vines to climb up a trellis located nearby.
This landscaping shading strategy can reduce solar heat gain, so you won’t need to rely as heavily on your air conditioner to stay cool in the hot summer months. Implementing this strategy can lead to significant energy savings. In fact, a successful landscaping shading strategy can reduce your home’s air conditioner costs by up to 50%.
Use A Programmable Thermostat
Installing a programmable thermostat is an inexpensive and easy way to reduce your home’s energy consumption and heating and cooling costs.
You can use a programmable thermostat to pre-set heating and cooling schedules for your home. Follow these tips to maximize your energy savings:
- In the winter, set the temperature to 68 degrees Fahrenheit during the hours you are awake. Dial it down even lower at night when you are asleep.
- In the summer, set the temperature to 78 degrees Fahrenheit during the hours you are awake and at home.
- Adjust the settings so you are never wasting energy on heating or cooling an empty home. For example, if you work the same hours every day, adjust the thermostat so the heating and cooling system automatically turns off during these hours.
Making these simple changes could reduce your annual heating and cooling bill by more than 10% without sacrificing your comfort at home.
Start With A Home Energy Audit
Every household has unique energy needs. If you aren’t sure which projects you should complete to improve your home’s energy efficiency, start by performing a home energy audit.
A home energy audit is an assessment of how your home currently consumes energy. It will help you identify opportunities to save energy and determine what energy efficient projects will have the biggest impact on your home’s energy consumption.
The results of a home energy audit will help you decide what steps you should take next to reach your goal of living in an energy efficient house. Download the HomeSelfe app on your smartphone now to complete a free energy audit in as little as five minutes.