Programmable thermostats offer the highest return on investment while reducing your home's heating costs for many years. Regular home maintenance can help minimize repair bills and when they plug air leaks, these too will contribute to lower home heating and/or cooling costs.
There are many enhancements you can make to your home to save energy. According to the US Department of Energy, households can save 20 to 30% on their energy bills by implementing these improvements so we've tried to group them as you'll want to start with those that offer more comfortable living in addition to save energy dollars on an ongoing basis.
Reduce Your Heating and Cooling CO$TS
Most people think you only need to worry about heating costs when it's cold outside. While you might save more in the winter, you will also benefit during warm weather from reduced cooling costs and/or more comfortable temperatures inside your home.
- Install programmable thermostats to automatically lower and raise the temperature of your house, reducing heating and cooling costs.
- Seal cooling and heating ducts with duct wrap or mastic sealant to save up to
- Insulate hot water heater and pipes carrying hot water, to save 4 to 9% in water heating costs, and cut CO2 emissions. Check for heat loss (if warm to the touch, it needs more insulation) and you may be able to save another 25 to 40%.
- Install ceiling fan(s) to reduce air conditioning costs by 40% in the summer. In the winter, fans can circulate warm air that rises to the ceiling, back down to the floor to save heating costs.
- Seal small, overlooked energy leaks around the house including:
- Add caulk or foam strips around windows/doors that leak.
- Install foam gaskets behind light switches and outlets if you hold a wet hand in front of the switch and feel air.
- Bring insulation up to “optimal” building standards where cost-effective. Building standards are raised periodically and some builders may meet standards that make housing affordable to buy, yet more expensive to heat.
- Install a timer on hot water heater to save money when you are less likely to need hot water.
- Replace light bulbs with energy efficient, compact fluorescent light bulbs which last 8 to 12 times longer, and save at least $30/bulb in electric bills. For help finding the right bulbs, use the following Energy Star resources:
- Light Output Equivalency (Scroll down) table to determine the correct watts.
- How to Choose Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs to find the right shape for each fixture.
- Find your savings with this CFL Savings Calculator, i.e. here's just 1 light bulb's savings:
- Replace old windows with energy efficient, dual pane windows.In fact replacement windows are consistently one of the top 10 remodeling projects, returning more than 80% of their cost when you sell your home.
- Install shades, drapes or awnings to block light on hot, sunny days, and reduce cooling costs. In winter drapes can help retain warm air.
- Install reflective film on windows to reduce air conditioning bills and eliminate upholstery fading by blocking UV rays.
- Insulate hot water pipes to reduce heat loss, and to set water temperature at a lower setting.
- Hot water recirculation systems can speed up delivery of hot water and reduce the amount of wasted water that goes down the drain while you wait for the desired temperature.
- Install outdoor solar lighting that operates without using any electricity.
- Install timers or motion detectors to automatically turn lights on and off at predetermined times, an easy energy saver.
Reduce Water Usage and Associated Costs
There are hidden costs associated with water usage, both the cost of water and delivering it to multiple fixtures in your home.
- Fix plumbing leaks right away as one dripping faucet wastes 212 gallons of water a month.
- Replace shower heads with low-flow heads to save 10 and 15% of your water heating costs.
- Install low flow toilets which can save you 3.5 gallons per flush.
Create Energy Saving Habits for Day to Day
There are things you can do as you go about your daily life, to reduce energy consumption:
- Lower your thermostat to 55 degrees while you are away, and asleep.
- Avoid running water continuously while doing dishes, washing up, brushing teeth or shaving.
- Keep your freezer full, adding bags of ice as needed to fill space.
- Load washers and dryers to capacity but don't overload, which can cut down on efficiency.
- Don't peek in the oven while cooking, as a significant amount of heat escapes each time.
- Keep fireplace dampers closed whenever your fireplace is not in use.
- Make sure your appliances, heating and cooling systems are properly maintained.