Not too long ago in our country’s history, talking about making your house “greener” might get you labeled a tree-hugger. But times change, and as gas, electricity, and water prices creep up, more and more homeowners are seeing the advantages that come with considering the environment when you make decisions about your household.
Are you interested in making your home more energy efficient — and saving money in the bargain? You have a lot of options that range from inexpensive to expensive, so read on to discover whether there are some energy-saving opportunities that you’re missing.
Get an energy audit
Most utility companies offer an energy audit, oftentimes for free: They’ll send an expert out to your house to take a look at all your appliances, your lights, your windows, your doors, and more — then make recommendations for changes you can make that will save energy (and money) every month. If you want a personalized rundown of everything you could do to and for your house to make it more energy efficient and environmentally friendly, an energy audit is a must.
Swap out your lightbulbs
Compact fluorescent or even LED bulbs are more expensive than incandescent bulbs, but they are supposed to last at least 10 times longer than incandescents and use only about 25% of the energy of an incandescent bulb.
As your incandescent light bulbs flicker out, consider replacing them with a greener alternative. Should you decide to swap them all out at once, you’ll likely start seeing a difference in your utility bills!
Pay attention to the sun
There’s a lot you can do to heat and cool your home without spending any money at all — but you’ll need to keep tabs on where the sun is in the sky. In the northern hemisphere, windows with southern exposure are going to get the most direct sunlight, so start with those. Make note of whether and when the sun shines into your home across every season, then adjust your habits (and your blinds) accordingly.
For example, if the sun is shining directly into your house during the winter season, then you might be able to save some money on your heating bill by opening up all your curtains and blinds in the morning to allow the sun in. But if you’re getting that direct sunlight in the dead heat of summer, then the opposite applies: Close your blinds and curtains in the morning to keep your house cool.
Unplug unused electronics (or use power strips)
Did you know that plugged-in chargers, appliances, and other electrical devices still pull electricity from the wall even when they’re not in use or charging anything?
To eliminate the constant drain on your electricity, you should unplug any unused devices, or you can also use power strips with an on-off switch. Keep everything plugged in; just flip the switch off when you’re finished using it.
Weather-stripping your windows & doors
Especially in some older houses, sometimes windows and doors might not be entirely airtight — meaning that you’ve got drafts from the outside sneaking hot or cold air into your home against your wishes.
A relatively cheap and easy fix is weatherstripping your windows and doors to eliminate those drafts and ensure that what’s outside doesn’t creep inside and vice versa. It’s as simple as a trip to a hardware store and a few minutes to weatherstrip each window and door back at the house.
Turn down your water heater
Hot water feels amazing in the shower … but here’s the thing: Your water heater is constantly working to keep its water consistently hot, and if you’ve got the gauge set at a high temperature, then “consistently hot” takes a lot of energy to maintain.
Take a look at your water heater’s settings and ask yourself if the hot water really needs to be as hot as you have it. Turning down the temperature ten or even five degrees can result in some surprising savings.
Replace your water heater
The older a water heater is, the more energy it’s going to take to maintain, so if your heater is looking a little spent, consider swapping it out for a newer model.
You can even get a tankless water heater, which heats your water up as you turn the tap on. Not only will your hot water seem inexhaustible, but you should also save energy (and money) by divesting yourself of a 50-gallon tank that’s constantly being heated and reheated.
Depending on where you live, the weather might be an asset that you haven’t tapped yet. You can’t use rainwater for everything, or even very many things — you can’t drink it, and you won’t want to use it to cook, wash dishes, or bathe with — but if you keep a cistern of rainwater in your yard, then you’ll always have a green way to water your grass and flowers in the spring and summer.
Start a compost pile
You might already have a compost pile if you garden, but even if you don’t, it’s worth considering; you can use compost for any flowers or grass on your property, and some metro areas even have a compost exchange program where you can submit your food scraps and get fertilizer in return. Look for classes on how to get started composting, and it’ll significantly reduce the amount of trash you’re throwing away every week.
Swap out your showerheads
If you like to take long showers, this fix can be especially helpful: Change your current shower head for a low-flow version that uses less water. These often have several settings for pressure and spray so that you can customize your shower experience — and you might not even notice that you’re using significantly less water once you make the change.
Buy a programmable thermostatYou don’t necessarily need a “smart” thermostat for your home (although it’s always nice to change the temperature using a phone app), but if you don’t have a thermostat that you can adjust to change the temperature at different times of the day, then you should definitely invest in one.
Setting your thermostat to a lower temperature while you are away for the day or for an extended period of time will help save you money on your heating bills. You can set your thermostat to bring the temperature back up to your comfort zone 30 minutes prior to your arrival so that you return to a warm home. Programmable thermostats will let you designate temperature by days of the week as well.
The key to making your home more energy efficient can involve simple things like changing a light bulb, or as complicated and involved as replacing appliances and installing solar panels. Figure out your ideal level of investment and take things one step at a time. Eventually, you will have a “greener” home that saves money without sacrificing comfort.
Whether upsizing, downsizing or anything in between, contact Aspire Homes Colorado for all of your real estate needs! 719-430-4440