A Checklist To Help Your Home Stay Energy Efficient
In recent years, home energy efficiency has become more important than ever. As a homeowner, it’s up to you to locate the areas in your home that may be adding to your monthly energy bill, rather than decreasing it. However, finding ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency isn’t always easy!
With that being said, we created this checklist to help you find new ways to make your home more energy-efficient this year. With actionable things you can do today, this week, this month and this year, you’re bound to see a difference in your energy bill.
Let’s get started with a checklist of things you can do today.
- Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F). You’ll save energy and avoid scalding your hands.
- Check if your water heater has an insulating blanket. An insulating blanket will pay for itself in one year or less!
- Make sure your furnace or heat pump receives professional maintenance each year. And look for the ENERGY STAR® label when replacing your system.
- Review additional strategies to reduce your water heating bills. Water heating can account for 14 to 25 percent of the energy consumed in your home.
- Survey your incandescent lights for opportunities to replace them with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). CFLs can save three-quarters of the electricity used by incandescents.
- Turn off the lights in unoccupied rooms or consider installing timers, photocells, or occupancy sensors to reduce the amount of time your lights are on.
- Turn off your computer monitor when not in use for more than 20 minutes, and turn off both the CPU and monitor if you’re not going to use your computer for more than two hours.
- Unplug equipment that drains energy when not in use (i.e. cell phone chargers, fans, coffeemakers, desktop printers, etc.).
- During the winter, open curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
- Clean or replace filters in your furnace, air conditioner, and heat pump.
While that may seem like a lot, these 10 tasks will help make a difference in your home’s energy efficiency. Next, let’s take a look at some additional tasks to complete this week—which is a much shorter list.
This Week’s Checklist
- Visit the hardware store. Buy a water-heater blanket (if you don’t already have one), low-flow showerheads, faucet aerators, and CFLs, as needed.
- Rope caulk or add film to leaky windows. If the windows in your home have cracks in the seal, they may be letting warm air out and cold air in. This requires your HVAC to work harder and increases your monthly energy bill.
- Assess your HVAC unit. Determine if replacements are justified, or whether you should retrofit them to work more efficiently to provide the same (or better) comfort for less energy.
That’s not so bad, right? Well, we’re not done just yet. Here’s what you should do this month to impact the energy efficiency of your home.
This Month’s Checklist
- Collect your utility bills and separate them into electricity and fuel bills. Target the largest energy consumer or the largest bill for more specific energy conservation measures.
- Insulate your hot water pipes to prevent heat loss.
- Insulate heating ducts in unheated areas, such as attics and crawl spaces. Keeping ducts in good repair can prevent heat loss of up to 60 percent at air registers.
- Seal up the largest air leaks in your house—specifically the ones that whistle on windy days, or feel drafty. The worst culprits are usually not windows and doors, but utility cut-throughs for pipes (“plumbing penetrations”), gaps around chimneys, recessed lights in insulated ceilings, and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets.
Expert Advice: Hire an energy auditor with a blower door to point out the worst cracks. All the little, invisible cracks and holes may be releasing as much air as an open window or door without you even knowing it!
- Install a programmable thermostat to set your thermostat back automatically at night.
- Schedule an energy audit with your utility company or state energy office for more expert advice on your home as a whole. Learn more about home energy audits.
Now last, but certainly not least, here’s your home energy efficiency checklist for the year. And don’t forget, this checklist isn’t just for this year. This isn’t a one and done kind of deal! Many of these tasks require ongoing maintenance and attention, so keep that in mind as we move forward.
This Year’s Checklist
- If your walls aren’t insulated, have an insulation contractor blow cellulose into the walls. Bringing your attic’s insulation level up to snuff will help improve the air quality in your home and require less work from your HVAC.
- Replace aging, inefficient appliances. Even if the appliance has a few useful years left, replacing it with a top-efficiency model is generally a good investment. Especially check the age and condition of your HVAC system. If it’s 12 or older, it’s time to think about replacing it.
- Upgrade leaky windows. It may be time to replace windows with energy-efficient models, or boost their efficiency with weatherstripping and storm windows. The typical home loses more than 25 percent of its heat through windows—don’t let yours be one of them.
- Upgrade your computer and monitor. Consider replacing your desktop computer with a notebook computer and docking station, and your cathode ray tube (CRT) monitor with a liquid crystal display (LCD) or LED monitor.
- Reduce your air conditioning costs by planting shade trees and shrubs around your house—especially on the west side. Not only will this make a difference for your home in terms of energy efficiency, but it will also increase your home’s value!
While some of these investments are expensive, they’re worth it in the long run. Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is an important part of improving our environment while decreasing your monthly energy bill.
Plus, educating yourself on energy-efficient options will help you when you decide to buy your next home. You’ll know exactly what to look for, and you can trust your friends at Spencer Properties to help you get it. Fill out the form below to contact us with any home buying (or selling) questions you may have!