How to Improve Home Energy Efficiency

Save Money by Improving Home Energy Efficiency

Let's face it - Homeownership can be expensive.

How much do you spend each year on your utility bills? Add up your monthly invoices for electricity, natural gas, oil, and/or propane. Don't forget to account for increased usage during winter months, and the cost of running air conditioning in the summer.

Now, what if you could save an average of 5-10% each year, even more, simply by improving your home energy efficiency?

Its true! When you save energy, you save money. Its not only the green thing to do, but helps you keep more green in your pocket each month.

Even though 5-10% may not sound like much, that can add up hundreds of dollars of annual savings each year. Improve your home energy efficiency even more and your savings could rise higher.

Wouldn't you like to keep that money for yourself, rather than mail it to the local utilities?

installing a smart meter is one way to save energy and money each month
installing a smart meter is one way to save energy and money each month | Source

Energy Efficiency vs. Energy Conservation

Energy Efficiency Measures
Energy Conservation Measures
LED or CFL light bulbs
Turning off lights when not in a room
Regularly clean/service appliances
Running dishwashers when full/washing clothes in cold water
Maintain and repair weather stripping and insulation
Use programmable thermostat to adjust temps when away/at night

Home Energy Efficiency: Electricity

Saving on your monthly electricity bills can be achieved through both energy efficiency (using less power to achieve the same result), and energy conservation (using less power overall).

For example, installing energy efficient light bulbs like LEDs or CFLs will use far less electricity than incandescent bulbs - plus they don't put out heat, which can save on cooling costs. Having your home examined for air leaks and repairing loose or damaged weather stripping and adding adequate insulation will help keep your home at a comfortable temperature, with less wasted energy expended for heating or cooling. Regular care and maintenance of your appliances will help them perform better, longer and with less money spent on repair or replacement.

Energy conservation measures such as using power strips, a programmable thermostat, and/or unplugging items not in use prevents the extra expenditure of energy when you are gone or asleep. Running appliances less often and on power-saving cycles (i.e. cold water laundry or no heat dry in a dishwasher) also helps save power and reduce your electricity bill. Of course, don't forget to turn off the lights when you leave a room!

Tips to Reduce Energy Usage on Lighting

What does an Energy Star Label Mean?

In the U.S., the Energy Star symbol can only be used on products that have been identified as helping to save money and the environment, without a sacrifice in quality or performance. The official Energy Star website states that the Environmental Protection Agency reviews and rates products as follows:

  • Product categories must contribute significant energy savings nationwide.
  • Qualified products must deliver the features and performance demanded by consumers, in addition to increased energy efficiency.
  • If the qualified product costs more than a conventional, less-efficient counterpart, purchasers will recover their investment in increased energy efficiency through utility bill savings, within a reasonable period of time.
  • Energy efficiency can be achieved through broadly available, non-proprietary technologies offered by more than one manufacturer.
  • Product energy consumption and performance can be measured and verified with testing.
  • Labeling would effectively differentiate products and be visible for purchasers.


Home Energy Efficiency: Appliances

If you live in an older home, chances are that your appliances are costing you more each month in energy bills than if you purchased new, Energy Star-rated appliances. The return on investment (the amount you save vs. the cost of the new appliance) is usually less than 3 years, which makes sense for many homeowners. Moreover, modern appliances help boost the value of your property, as well.

Today's modern dishwashers use less water and energy than if you washed your dishes by hand! Refrigerators keep food at a safe, consistent temperature, saving you money on produce, health and electricity, as well.

Energy-Star rated washing machines appear to sip both water and power. Washing in cold water is more efficient than ever with cold-water based detergents. When you don't pay to heat water, laundry becomes significantly less expensive.

Many other appliances may be Energy-Star rated, including air conditioning units, ceiling fans, personal electronics, dehumidifiers, water heaters, freezers, air cleaners/filtration, heat pumps and computers.

Next time you are considering a new appliance, or repair to an old one, ask a knowledgeable expert regarding the Energy Star rating. They will be able to tell you how much energy you can save each month, and how quickly you'll be able to recoup a return on investment.

Simple Energy Saving Tips

Home Energy Efficiency: Heating and Cooling

One of my favorite, free ways to improve heating and cooling home energy efficiency is with passive solar energy. Simply by using blinds, shades or drapes, you can insulate your home to either keep heat out or trap it inside.

Add some shading landscaping and position the windows on your home to face north-south, rather than east-west, and you can use or reflect radiant heat year round to keep things at a comfortable temperature. During morning hours, open windows to allow fresh air inside. As the sun rises over the day, close things up and keep sunlight from heating things up too much with awnings, too.

With, or without passive solar energy strategies, you can save energy and money on your heating and cooling costs with a programmable thermostat and/or a home energy monitor.

Save Home Energy with Efficient Appliances

Home Energy Efficiency: General Maintenance

In a related hub, I addressed five general home improvement projects to increase home energy efficiency.

These include: (1) caulking and sealing doors and windows; (2) ensuring you have adequate home insulation; (3) servicing your hot water tank; (4) installing passive solar landscaping; and (5) using your drapes and blinds.

General maintenance of your appliances, hot water heater, air filters, and a regular inspection of your home to ensure there are not air leaks causing you to lose heat or cooling dollars, are all excellent ways to improve home energy efficiency and save you money.

If you are not sure whether your home is at its optimal efficiency, consider a relatively inexpensive home energy audit. Professionals will come to your home and determine if there are leaks, and where. In addition, regular home and/or professional maintenance of your appliances will help keep them running efficiency and effectively. Not only can you save money on monthly utility bills, but it will help stave off future repairs or replacements!

Energy Guides show you potential savings with energy efficient appliances
Energy Guides show you potential savings with energy efficient appliances | Source

Do you Have an Energy Efficient Home?

See results without voting

© 2012 Stephanie Hicks

More by this Author


Comments 24 comments

ysdata profile image

ysdata 4 years ago from Dover, Delaware

I save money with my irrigation system. Instead of water my whole lawn everyday, I have adjusted some of the zones. For those parts (zones) of my lawn that are in the shaded areas, I water once a week. It works great. I have a green lawn using less water.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Great tips ysdata! Saving water is a smart strategy, especially for summer months! Best, Steph


Arlene V. Poma 4 years ago

Ouch! Just replaced our air-conditioning/heating unit over the weekend, but now we have peace of mind by having something that's current and energy-saving . We replaced the ducts. We also upped the insulation. Next step? Replacing the windows. So far in the game, we already notice a difference and don't have to work the air conditioner to death. The true test will be the 115-degress coming up this summer.


Distant Mind profile image

Distant Mind 4 years ago

I've been putting off installing AC units at home and this hub might just be the last straw. I'm ordering them this weekend.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Arlene - that is so great! Even before replacing the windows, you've seen better energy efficiency. Good luck this summer!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Distant Mind - Hope you find a nice, cool, efficient A/C unit. Best, Steph


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States

We replace our heating and air a couple of years ago to one that was more energy efficient. Your hug has numerous helpful suggestions. Rated up and useful.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thanks Pamela - It feels so great to save money and the environment! All the best, Steph


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

Hi steph, great ideas, and ones that we could all easily do if we put our minds to it. I save money by turning off my hot water at the switch on the thermostat every day after showering etc, this way the whole of the system, gas central heating, water etc is saved, then I just turn the whole thing back on early next morning. its great because the water stays hot, but nothing is burning. I always turn off lights at night apart from the room I am sitting in, and only turn them on when walking through etc, I have a gas key and an electric key so I can keep an eye on what I use, voted up and interesting, cheers nell


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

I think my husband has now replaced all the lighting in our home with LED's. Hopefully, it will make a difference soon in our electric bill. It is amazing how much difference planting a tree to block out the western setting sun makes in a home. We did this and noticed how much cooler it was and the reduction in electricity was noticeable.


Lightshare profile image

Lightshare 4 years ago

Great tips to the present world! thankyou.


watergeek profile image

watergeek 4 years ago

Hi Steph - I like this hub. It's informative and fits right along with my own beliefs in water and energy efficiency. I'm linking to it with a hub I'm writing right now on water supply and purification systems. I've also shared it on FB. 'Twixt you and me we'll get people living a more sustainable life. ;-)


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

That sounds great, watergeek! I'm glad we can help advance the conversation on energy efficiency, saving water and more. Best, Steph


john000 profile image

john000 4 years ago from Superior, Arizona

I was interested in your comments under Home Energy Efficiency: Heating and Cooling. I live in Arizona, and with the intense heat, summer electric AC bills can be very high.

Another passive way of stopping household heat gain is to install full screens including some form of 'sun screening'. It really helps. Awnings over windows can also reduce a good percentage of direct solar contact with windows.

Enjoyed the hub. Thanks you.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Great idea on the screens to help keep the sun out, as well. Awnings are another super energy efficiency booster. Thanks for the comment! All the best, Stephanie


kelleyward 4 years ago

Another great energy efficiency hub by Step! I'm going to do some of these things you mentioned here. I appreciate you sharing your expertise in this area. Voted up, useful, and shared. Kelley


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you Kelley - its amazing how little efforts can really pay off with respect to home energy efficiency and more money in the bank each month. All the best, Steph


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

I do try to save money this way and last year I think I got a write off for buying energy efficient appliances (like my washer and dryer). I do not have any electric on unless it's being used also. I bet it saves me a little over a years time.

Great hub!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thanks RealHousewife! We had to repair/purchase 2 appliances this summer (ouch!) but the energy efficiency rebates helped. Moreover, they use less electricity each month, so we are hoping to recoup our investment soon. Best, Steph


carol7777 profile image

carol7777 4 years ago from Arizona

Excellent ideas here and it is good to see that people are really trying to conserve energy. It will be the way of the world in about 20 years. Thanks for sharing. Voted UP.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you Carol! You are right that saving energy and increasing efficiency will be the way of the world very soon. We will have no choice! Best, Steph


Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK

This is an important issue and an interesting read. I found it particularly interesting to read about the energy star system because we have a different system for rating appliances in the UK (I think it's EU-wide). Here every appliance is given a rating of A,B,C etc with A most efficient. This system began way back in the 1990s and now we also have A+++. When we bought a new washing machine recently decision making was very easy. I think the life cycle of the appliances is also taken into account, but I could be wrong.

The way we could still save money is with turning off lights. My kids try, but somehow they just forget! I think it's a kid thing, because I can remember my parents scolding us for the same thing.

I was interested that you say windows should face north-south for maximum energy efficiency. Why is this?

Voted up and sharing!


watergeek profile image

watergeek 4 years ago

North lets in light, but not heat. South lets in sunlight and heat during the winter, but not during the summer. (Just thought I'd answer, since I'm here. Hope that's ok, Steph.)


Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK

Thanks watergeek, that's interesting. I was curious because we have north south windows and it's always way warmer at the south side of our house, even in summer. Every house we've lived in has been the same, and I've often thought east west would create a more evenly warm house so Steph advice intrigued me Perhaps it's to do with the angle of the sun, since where I live it's around 56 north. We never need air conditioning at any time of year, nor even awnings.

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