With one of coldest winter’s on record upon us, energy costs are a major concern for most home owners in Fairfield County. Not all homes were designed with energy efficiency in mind, but there are many simple ways to cut down on electricity costs and reduce your carbon footprint. Below are a few tips to get you thinking about how easy it is to help the environment and your pocketbook.
1. Find out where your inefficiencies are. Performing a Do-It-Yourself Energy Audit is one great way to find out how to make your home more efficient. These tests will find areas of inefficiency, among other things, which will allow you to understand the extent to which you’re wasting fuel and electricity on a daily basis. A Professional Energy Audit is another alternative if you are really looking for concrete solutions to an aging home, or one that is extremely inefficient.
2. Replace home utilities with more efficient versions. Tankless water heaters, for example, are considerably more efficient than those with tanks. Replacing just one light bulb with an LED light bulb could save up to $125 over the course of the bulb’s life. Alternately, Compact Fluorescent Bulbs (CFLs) provide smaller but comparable savings to an LED bulb. Large appliances such as refrigerators, ovens, and stoves usually constitute 20% of a home’s energy usage. Upgrading to new Energy Star appliances can result in considerable savings to you in the long run.
3. Improve the efficiency of the fixtures already in your home. Replacing air conditioning and heater filters is one easy way to increase the efficiency of these high-energy systems. Another simple way of reducing energy costs is installing more efficient shower-heads and other water infrastructure. Using less water generally means heating less water.
4. Increasing the efficacy of your insulation can also be a moderately easy fix. Exposed insulation, as is likely to be found in your attic, will often visually demonstrate the problems that it may have. Look for darkened areas in the insulation. This may indicate that there is a leak or hole near this area of insulation, which not only reduces the efficiency of that area, but may indicate that outside air and/or water is penetrating into unwanted places. Any part of your home that is not insulated is money out the door and should be addressed.
5. Sealing cracks and areas where warm or cool air can escape to the outside is a definite energy saver. Adding weather-stripping around your attic opening can increase the efficiency of your home. Around doors and windows, check to make sure that the areas between your home and the outside are properly separated. Your baseboard, attic hatches, mail slots, and window frames are all likely suspects for inefficiencies in your house.
6. Installing double-paned skylights is another great way of reducing energy usage while also increasing the beauty of your home. Replacing a few hours of light per day with sunlight is good for both your energy costs and resale value. Also look into light shelves, clever installations that can move natural light deep into your home where it would otherwise would not go.
7. There are also high-tech options for reducing your home’s energy usage. Some modern thermostats can be controlled by a number of devices such as smart phones, and can be programmed to help your energy usage become more transparent. For example, the Nest Learning Thermostat can learn your schedules and habits to automatically adjust your home’s heating and cooling to be more efficient. As heating and cooling your home is one of the largest energy expenditures, products such as geothermal heat pumps now have strong tax incentives and can keep your home comfortable for a fraction of the cost of heating oil.
Although making major changes to your home can be difficult and initially expensive, the savings you earn in the long run and during resale can justify many home improvement costs. If you have made specific green improvements to your home, be sure to tell your realtor about them when listing your home for sale. Don’t forget to sign up below to receive more informative articles, listings and community happenings.