Home projects to help save energy
Being environmentally friendly is about more than just recycling, conserving water, or using public transportation. There are a number of ways that homeowners can help save energy and money at home. These five easy home projects can help reduce energy use, benefiting the environment will also helping to lower your energy bills.
- Switch out your lightbulbs. If you still use incandescent bulbs in your home, now is the perfect time to switch to compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. With a wider variety of sizes and wattages than ever before, there are CFLs for every room in your home. While these bulbs do represent a more significant upfront cost, they save an average of $40 in energy usage over the life of the lightbulb.
- Seal the exterior. Are there rooms in your home that are never hot or cold enough despite the setting on the thermostat? If so, poor insulation may be to blame. Most American homes are so poorly insulated that it is the equivalent of leaving a window open year round. Sealing holes and gaps on your home’s exterior, as well as adding additional insulation to attics, basements, and crawl spaces, can lead to significant energy savings each year.
- Replace old windows. If you have an older home, you may be able to save energy by replacing aging windows. This is also true for newer construction homes that were built using cheap, builder’s grade windows. Energy Star certifies windows and front doors for four climate zones. A home exterior contractor can help recommend the best windows for your home.
- Eliminate phantom electrical loads. Most of us leave our electronics, televisions, computers, chargers, and other small appliances plugged in at all times – even when they are not in use. This can create phantom electrical loads in which devices that are off continue to use energy; devices such as Kill-a-Watt meters can help you evaluate how much energy a device is using, while Mini Power Minder can power off peripheral electronics such as printers when a computer enters sleep mode. Unplugging or switching off electronics when they are not in use can reduce energy costs by hundreds of dollars each year!
- Install a solar panel. While by no means a minor home improvement project, solar panels are more affordable than ever, and installing one can offset up to 100% of your energy use. Many states even allow homeowners to sell back excess energy they produce but do not use. Before installation, check for local and federal tax incentives; this can help significantly reduce the cost of a solar panel.