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10 Super-Simple Ways to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

Despite the wacky weather we sometimes have in Southwest Virginia, we’re lucky to live in a fairly mild climate. Even still, you might be looking for ways to make your home more energy efficient. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on a new heating, ventilation and cooling system (HVAC) system to make your home more energy efficient. While investing in a new HVAC system may help, there are less expensive and easier ways to lower your home’s energy usage.

Use LED Bulbs

The type of light bulbs installed in your home will affect the amount of energy it consumes. Some light bulbs consume more energy than others. Incandescent bulbs, for instance, consume about 80 percent more energy than light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs. They also burn out about 50 times more quickly than LED bulbs. If you have incandescent bulbs currently installed in your home, swapping them out for LED bulbs is an easy way to make your home more energy efficient.

Program the Thermostat

If your HVAC system has a programmable thermostat, adjusting it can make your home more energy efficient. It doesn’t make sense to cool or heat your home when it’s unoccupied. If neither you nor any of your family members are home, running the HVAC system will waste energy. A programmable thermostat allows you to set your HVAC system for different temperatures at different times of the day. By setting your HVAC system to either run less or not all when your home is unoccupied, you’ll save energy.

Unplug High-Energy Devices

Another super-simple way to lower your home’s energy usage is to unplug devices that consume a substantial amount of energy. Keep in mind, some devices consume energy when they aren’t being used. Computers, monitors, televisions, video game consoles, and cable boxes are some of the most common devices that constantly consume energy. As long as they are plugged into an electric outlet, they’ll slowly but steadily consume energy. You can unplug high-energy devices such as these, though, to create a more energy-efficient home.

Plant Some Trees

You might be surprised to learn that planting trees can have a positive impact on your home’s energy usage. According to the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), trees planted in the right location save homeowners an average of 30 percent to 50 percent on their cooling and heating costs, respectively. Trees will block sunlight to reduce the amount of solar heat your home absorbs during the summer. During the winter, on the other hand, they’ll block the cold and dry fast-moving winds.

Seal Air Leaks

Air leaks are a leading cause of wasted energy in homes. If the air inside your home leaks outside, your HVAC system will have to work harder to maintain a comfortable and appropriate temperature, which means greater consumption of energy. You can typically seal air leaks, however, using products such as weatherstripping, insulation, and caulk. After spotting an area where air is leaking, seal it with one of these products.

If you’re living in an older home, check into replacement windows. Replacing old windows with even single-pane windows is likely to save you money, but you’ll get more savings and more resale value by going with double-pane windows. The layer of air between the panes acts as insulation. Add coatings, fills, and spacers to reduce energy loss even more.

Replace the Air Filter

Replacing your HVAC system’s air filter can make your home more energy efficient. While there are several types of HVAC systems, they all use a filter to clean the air. Whether you’re running the air conditioner or heating system, the air circulating throughout your home must pass through a filter where dust, pollen, mold, and other pollutants are removed.

Air filters don’t last forever. As pollutants accumulate on and within the filter’s fibrous material, they will restrict airflow. In turn, your HVAC system will consume more energy as it attempts to heat or cool your home. For an energy-efficient home, you should replace the air filter a minimum of  every 60 days.

Wash Clothes in Cold Water

When doing laundry, set your washing machine to use cold water. According to the Smithsonian Institution, three-fourths of the energy consumed by doing laundry is spent on heating the water. A typical washing machine has a 40-gallon capacity. If you wash your clothes in hot water, it must heat all 40 gallons. Cold water, of course, doesn’t require heating, making it a more energy-efficient choice when doing laundry. And contrary to what many people believe, it’s just as effective at removing stains as hot water.

Install Thermal Curtains

Hanging thermal curtains in front of windows is an easy way to make your home more energy-efficient. Thermal curtains look like regular curtains, but they are made of heavier-duty materials that block out nearly all sunlight. They are also known as blackout curtains because, when pulled closed, they create a pitch-black environment. With thermal curtains installed, little or no sunlight will enter your home’s living space. As a result, your HVAC system will consume less energy to cool your home during the summer months.

Insulate Hot-Water Pipes

Insulating hot-water pipes can reduce heat loss and even raise water temperature up to 4 degrees Fahrenheit. This allows you to lower your temperature setting and get hot water faster.

Consider an Energy Audit 

Investing in a professional energy audit can reveal new ways to make your home more energy efficient. Also known as an energy assessment, this service provides insight into your home’s energy usage. During the audit, an accredited auditor will survey your home to determine how it uses energy. The auditor will then provide you with a report of his or her findings, which should include recommendations on how to improve the energy efficiency of your home.

Looking for a home that supports a green lifestyle? Let’s talk more about your needs. Contact me at (540) 353-0123 or sonya@sonyadickinson.com.