Saving energy has never been a bigger priority. The idea of living an energy and eco-conscious life has transformed from a concept into something that has been put into action. In an effort to minimize the harm we’re doing to our planet, more home improvement professionals are seeking new ways to greenify their homes and lives.
While turning off lights when they’re not in use and adding solar panels to rooftops are excellent go-to options, your efforts don’t have to stop there. There are countless products designed to make energy-saving an easy task. To help get your gears turning, here are a few home upgrades that will help you lower your energy usage and your bills:
According to energy.gov, heating and cooling make up about 48% of a household’s heating and cooling costs, making it by and large the most expensive energy cost. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce usage and save money.
Energy.gov also states that you can save as much as 10% off of your heating and cooling costs by using programmable thermostats efficiently. These allow you to customize your home’s cooling and heating settings so that you can keep the temperature at an ideal setting while you are home. However, when you’re away from home or are asleep, you can set the thermostat on a more energy-efficient setting. Because these thermostats can operate on a timer, you can set it so that it automatically goes back to the more comfortable setting while you are on your way home.
Home Window Awnings
Home window awnings are designed to reduce the amount of sun that enters into a home, making them an excellent outlet for reducing home cooling costs. Awnings have been found to reduce heat gain by 55%-77%, and a study conducted by the Professional Awning Manufacturers Association showed that they can help you save around $200 on cooling costs annually.
Even better, installing solar-powered automated awnings help reduce energy usage further, as they are designed to extend and retract based on direct sun exposure and aren’t connected to your home’s electrical system.
Energy-Saving Smart Outlets
Leaving something plugged in when it’s not in use can waste energy, increase your electric bill, and depending on what the appliance is, even be a safety hazard.
Smart outlets are outlets that connect to your smart phone (some can be controlled by anything that has internet access) and allow you to turn off (or on) appliances from wherever you are at. Some of these outlets will even send notifications to your phone to alert you about unnecessary energy usage, allowing you to remotely turn off a lamp that you didn’t mean to leave on. Similarly to the programmable thermostat, you can set some outlets on a schedule so that certain lights go on or off at a certain time. While there are many smart outlets to choose from, here is a solid list of affordable options.
Clearly, this option would be a big expense upfront, but if you’re thinking of putting some time and money into upgrading your home as it is, skylights can be fairly energy-efficient. When installed right, meaning that the skylight is installed in an energy-efficient manner that benefits from the direction it is facing and the geographical location it is in, it can help significantly with solar-heat gain, reducing your home heating costs during the cold months. If you find that the heat gain is too much in the summer months, you can use a skylight cover to block the sun.
Skylights can also help provide natural lighting, therefore reducing how often you need to turn on your lights, and they can also provide natural ventilation, which can actually lower your cooling costs.
According to Energy Star, dishwashers from the early ‘90s are costing you more money on your electric bill and waste more than 10 gallons of water every time you run a cycle, whereas modern ones often use less than six gallons. Look for modern dishwashers with a healthy energy rating, and keep the following tips in mind:
- Compact size may seem more energy-conscious on the surface, but it really just means that the appliance holds smaller loads. If you have a big family and will be running the dishwasher frequently, investing in a standard size that washes more dishes in one load could actually be better.
- Choose shorter cycles when possible, as the longer the dishwasher runs, the more energy it uses.
- Only run full loads instead of sparse ones. The less you use the appliance, the less energy you’ll waste.
As you can see, there are many products and home upgrades that will help lower your energy use. While some ideas are more affordable upfront than others, the bottom line is that the more energy you can save, the more you’ll be helping our planet, and in the long run, energy efficiency helps the bank account as well.
This post was by Anette Ortenstone, Anette is a writer based out of Colorado who enjoys inspiring others to adapt more green-friendly practices in their homes. She loves exploring her beautiful home state whenever she can.