Most homeowners have a few ideas about how to cut energy waste on the home front. You’ve probably spent plenty of time reminding roommates, a spouse, or children to turn off the lights when they leave a room, close the windows to preserve a cool interior during the summer, and stop loitering in front of an open fridge. But you could do a lot more to reduce consumption and lower your energy bill. Here are some creative solutions to consider.
- Hire a home energy auditor. A home energy auditor won’t actually fix the energy problems in your home. What he will do is run a series of tests and perform an inspection in order to tell you where energy waste is occurring. He might even offer suggestions for fixes. But you’ll have to address issues with leaks and insulation separately. However, you won’t know what needs fixing until you get a professional auditor out to check your structure.
- Upgrade your thermostat. While digital and even programmable thermostats are nothing new, the energy savings you can accomplish with this simple and relatively inexpensive piece of HVAC equipment are incredible, making this item worth mentioning. The Department of Energy estimates that the average home can save as much as 15% on heating and cooling costs by programming the thermostat to dial back the interior temperature 10-15 degrees while the family is away during the day (based on an 8-hour time frame). And if you reduce demand when you sleep, as well, you could save even more. The best thing is that you can program your thermostat to make the changes for you so that you don’t even have to think about it. Of course, you might also want to upgrade to a smart home thermostat that allows for remote control with your smartphone or tablet. You’ll never again have to sit at the office all day knowing you forgot to adjust the thermostat before you left.
- Feng shui your air flow. The layout of your furniture is probably designed with function and aesthetics in mind. You put the TV where the cable outlet is. And you place couches and chairs around it to preserve the line of sight. It makes perfect sense. What you might not have considered is just how many floor vents are blocked by your furniture. So when you turn on the heat and feel nothing, you crank up the thermostat more, never realizing that you’re warming your furniture instead of your interior air. For this reason you should probably figure out where vents are and try to leave ample room for airflow.
- Stop phantom drain. Any time electronics are plugged in, there’s a good chance they’re sucking up energy, even if they’re powered down. This is a phenomenon known as phantom drain. But rather than taking the time to unplug everything in your home before you leave for the day, you might want to plug electronics into power strips with on/off switches. This way you can simply flip the switch to stop phantom drain.
- Upgrade to energy-efficient products. If you visit EnergyStar.gov you’ll find an incredible number of products that are designed to deliver the same performance with far less energy demand. If you’re seeking tips to save energy dollars, few are going to be more effective than these upgrades. And while you are probably aware of light bulbs and appliances that have the Energy Star seal of approval, you might not know that their umbrella extends to electronics (including computers) and building supplies like windows, doors, and roofing, amongst other products.