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How to Improve Home Energy Efficiency

Updated on July 14, 2020
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Stephanie is always looking for ways to lighten her carbon footprint. She is enthusiastic about solar power and solar gadgets.

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?

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Stephanie Marshall


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