When you’re looking for home improvements, why not invest in sustainable features that reduce your overall energy bill and save you money while also protecting the environment? Upgrading your home is important both for the resell value and to keep your home comfortable and livable. If you also want to reduce your carbon footprint in the process, there are a number of specific upgrades which are beneficial.
The average American household uses 867 kilowatthours (kWh) per month. However, with a little foresight and attention to detail, you can drastically reduce how much energy you use. Some of the methods are cheaper and easier upfront and others necessitate bigger changes. Here are six ways to improve your home and reduce your electrical costs at the same time:
1. Swap Out Your Light Bulbs
When you’re on a budget, but you want to make your home more environmentally friendly, start with your lights. Replace incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs. Choose ones that are Energy Star certified and you’ll gain a bulb that lasts up to 15 years and saves you 70-90 percent over incandescents. If you don’t like the light an incandescent puts out, try to place them in areas where the lights are on infrequently and use natural lighting for the areas you frequent most often, such as opening up a window.
2. Add Caulking and Weatherstripping
About 25 to 30 percent of the heating and cooling lost in your home is through windows and doors. If you have older windows, this can be a particular problem as they are less energy efficient. Of course, one solution is to replace all the windows in your home. While this is desirable to buyers if you’re planning on selling soon, it is also costly to replace all the windows at one time. A better option might be simply to add caulking and weatherstripping to seal up any leaks.
Go around the seams and add weather stripping at the bottom of windows and doors. Another option is a product that is like a plastic wrap and seals over your entire window. The drawback is you won’t be able to open your windows without disturbing the weatherproofing, thus winters are a better time to use this method.
3. Upgrade Your Appliances
You don’t have to be a handyman to upgrade your appliances. In fact, most home improvement stores will install your new appliances as part of the purchase package. You just have to wait for a good sale on the specific appliances you want. Using Energy Star appliances means you’ll use 20 to 30 percent less energy than you’d otherwise use. Appliances span the scope of washers, dryers, refrigerators, stoves and can even include hot water heaters and furnaces.
4. Install an Electric Tankless Water Heater
Your water heater is one of the big energy vampires in your home. Think about the traditional water heater and how it keeps water hot and ready at all times. However, you may or may not use that hot water. A tankless system heats water on demand so that you aren’t wasting any hot water. They are much more energy efficient than a traditional hot water tank. They aren’t extremely difficult to install, but you may want to enlist the help of your local energy company in securing a contractor who knows the ins and outs of installation.
5. Use a Smart Thermostat
Today’s technology gives homeowners many excellent options for controlling energy bills and reducing waste. A smart thermostat, for example, is programmable to set the temperature to a specific number when you’re home and a different one when you’re away for long periods of time. If you leave on vacation and forgot to adjust the thermostat, you can simply pull the system up on your smartphone and reset the temperatures for vacation mode, saving a bit of money in the process.
6. Go Solar
If you want to make a bigger impact, going solar reduces your energy usage dramatically. The initial costs of installing a solar roofing system are coming down, but it is still a big investment. However, some local governments and utility companies offer rebates which allow you to get set up for less. Unless you are a professional solar roofing contractor, it’s best to let someone else install your system for you. Get quotes from several companies, but beware of scams, which are rampant in this industry. Do your research ahead of time!
Get More Out of Your Energy
If you’re planning to invest in home improvement projects, be sure to check out what sustainable options exist to save you the maximum amount of energy.
Bio: Emily is a sustainability writer who is the creator of Conservation Folks.