Small Home Improvements Equal BIG Energy Savings
Green initiatives for home improvements are great for the environment, but aren’t always financially feasible for many Americans. Thankfully, there are tons of inexpensive solutions to take the load off of your heating and air conditioning system, increase your home’s energy efficiency, and save yourself some money along the way.
- Start from the Outside In: Inspect your home for drafts or air leaks around windows and doors. While replacing or adding insulation is always a good idea, a more cost effective quick fix is to weather-strip or caulk around windows and doors. Weather-stripping costs around $10 for almost two dozen feet. Put draft guards around the bottom of doors to keep warm air in and cold air out.
- Dial Down, Dial Up: Turning down your thermostat just a few degrees in the winter not only uses less energy, but can also save 1-3% on your utility bill. If your home has air conditioning, the reverse is true for summer months. That’s a potential annual savings of nearly 10%!
- Snuggle Up: There are people who actually prefer to sleep in cold rooms, but for the rest of us it’s worth it to invest in some heavy blankets or a down comforter (you can find a decent queen size one for around $100) and lower the temperature in your home at night.
- Let the Sun Shine In: Give your furnace a rest. Open curtains on south-facing windows to create passive solar heat in winter and use natural light instead of lamps whenever possible.
- Let the Sun Shine Out: Close blinds and drapes in the summer to keep out the sun’s powerful rays and reduce the load on your home’s air conditioner.
- Be a Fan of Fans: Ceiling, box or desktop fans, used instead of central air or a room AC, can provide relief from the heat without breaking the bank. You can get a good fan for about $5 at most hardware or discount stores.
- Go Acoustic and Unplug: Few people realize that even when not turned on or in use, many devices continue to draw power as long as they’re connected to an electrical outlet. Unplug anything that’s not being used—toaster, coffee maker, cell phone chargers—and use power strips or a surge protector for things like computers and home theater equipment.
- Give Old Bulbs the Boot: Switching to energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs—you know, those weird looking spiral things—can help you save money and reduce energy consumption. The average CFL bulb lasts longer than a traditional incandescent bulb, doesn’t get as hot, and burns exactly the same as a standard bulb. A single CFL bulb can save about $35 over its lifetime; changing every bulb in your house could save you thousands. Plus, they just look a lot cooler!