According to the Census Bureau, the number of newly constructed homes sold in 2019 was 682,000. Your home is probably the biggest investment you have. It’s also one of the biggest energy consumers in your life. That’s why it’s important to understand how you can make your home as efficient as possible. Here are some common ways that people waste their home’s energy, and how to fix them.
1. Check the insulation around your water heater
Water heating makes up 18% of your home’s energy costs. If it’s not insulated, invest in an insulating blanket or wrap. This will help keep the heat inside the tank where it belongs and make sure you don’t have to waste energy heating up cold water from the basement or garage.
2. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).
These bulbs use 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs and last longer too! Reducing the amount of electricity used by these bulbs also reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
3. Turn down your water heater
The average household uses up to 20 percent of its total energy budget, keeping water warm enough to use on demand. Lowering your water heater temperature by only one degree can save five percent or more on heating costs. To lower your water temperature, turn down the thermostat on your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius). If this is too low for you, try setting it at 125 degrees Fahrenheit (52 degrees Celsius).
4. Seal up cracks
Heat loss and gain through windows account for 25%-30% of heating and cooling energy use in the average home. In fact, it’s estimated that reducing air leakage by just 1% can save up to 3% on annual utility costs. To reduce heat loss, seal all cracks and gaps around windows with caulk or foam insulation and add storm windows if needed.
5. Upgrade your light bulbs
You can cut your power bill by 20 percent just by switching out a few old incandescent bulbs for new CFL or LED ones.
6. Close the curtains and shades at night
The sun shining through the windows heats up your home during the day, then the heat stays in when you turn on the lights at night to stay warm. Closing your curtains and shades at night will help keep the heat in during the winter and out during the summer.
7. Keeping Your Thermostat Too High
Many people set their thermostats too high in the winter and summer months, which wastes energy. In fact, according to a study by Harvard University and Boston University, keeping your thermostat at 68 degrees Fahrenheit instead of 72 degrees can save you up to 10 percent on your heating bill (and 8 percent on cooling).
8. Not taking advantage of appliances’ timers and sensors
Many modern appliances are equipped with features like automatic shutoff timers, remote controls, sensors that determine how much power is needed for each task, and more.
9. Keep your refrigerator clean.
The dirtier your refrigerator is, the more energy it will use. The dirtier the coils are, the harder they have to work to keep cool and maintain their temperature level. A dirty refrigerator also uses more water than a clean one, so clean it regularly!
It would be great if you could turn off your home’s lights, but it remains a luxury that many of us don’t afford. And while there are plenty of changes you can make to improve your energy efficiency, the fact remains that making any one of these changes is better than maintaining the status quo. Hopefully, this guide will help you take some steps towards saving a bit more energy—and cutting some costs in the process.