Looking for ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency? If so, you’re far from alone. In fact, a whopping 90 percent of homebuyers prefer homes with energy-efficient features over cheaper but less efficient options.
But an energy-efficient home doesn’t just add value when the time comes to sell. It also means utility savings and a more comfortable living environment—not to mention the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re doing your part to mitigate climate change by reducing your carbon footprint.
The good news? There are things you can do to improve your home’s energy efficiency. By adopting one or more of the six upgrades included here, you can lower your energy bills while transforming your home into an environmentally friendly haven.
1. Invest in Impact Windows and Doors
Impact windows and doors are designed to be more than strong. They also can be insulated, which minimizes air leakages for powerful energy-saving potential.
In addition to significantly reducing energy consumption, impact doors and windows can offer many other benefits, including more comfortable and consistent indoor temperatures, enhanced security, storm and weather protection, noise reduction, UV damage defense, extending the life of your heating and cooling systems by reducing their loads, and access to insurance premium discounts.
Speaking of insulation, adequate insulation to your walls, attic, and floors is another way to maintain a stable indoor temperature by preventing gaps or leaks that let outside air in and inside air out.
2. Install Smart Thermostats
Smart thermostats are another excellent way to manage your home’s energy consumption. These innovative devices offer a range of features allowing you to control your heating and cooling systems.
In fact, the average ENERGY STAR® smart thermostat trims roughly 8 percent off heating and cooling costs for annual savings of approximately $50. (ENERGY STAR® certification demonstrates that products have met rigorous energy efficiency criteria set by the EPA and/or Department of Energy.)
In addition to enabling you to schedule and adjust temperature settings remotely, smart thermostats also learn your preferences over time to help you further optimize your HVAC system use and trim a substantial amount off your energy bills.
3. Upgrade to Smart Appliances
As technology advances, so do home appliances. Like thermostats, many appliances now come with convenient and user-friendly “smart” features designed to promote performance-forward energy savings.
For instance, smart refrigerators can regulate their temperatures based on their contents, while smart washing machines can be programmed to intuitively use the precise amount of water and detergent for each load.
Furthermore, smart appliances can be scheduled to run during off-peak hours when electricity rates are lower. This both conserves energy and saves you money.
On a related note, ENERGY STAR®-labeled refrigerators, televisions, office equipment, furnaces, washing machines and dryers, and other energy-efficient appliances are also an excellent investment.
4. Plant Shade Trees
Even natural solutions like strategically planting shade trees on your property to block the sun’s direct rays during the hot summer months can have a surprisingly impactful effect on your home’s energy efficiency. By reducing the amount of heat that enters your home, this landscaping technique lessens your air conditioning system’s workload.
The cooling effect of shade trees is actually twofold. In addition to lowering indoor temperatures by shading your home, trees also release moisture through transpiration, which further cools the surrounding air. This combination of shade and cooling lowers your cooling costs while also enhancing your overall comfort.
5. Swap in LED Light Bulbs
Did you know that lighting accounts for approximately 15 percent of the average household’s energy consumption? Simply by replacing traditional incandescent and fluorescent bulbs with LED light bulbs, you can position yourself for serious energy savings of in the neighborhood of $225 a year.
Not only do highly energy-efficient LED bulbs use up to 90 percent less electricity than traditional bulbs, they also have a longer lifespan—meaning fewer replacements and less waste. Furthermore, because LED bulbs produce very little heat, they reduce the load on your cooling system during the summer months.
To further optimize your lighting plan’s energy efficiency, consider installing timers and dimmers for even greater control over your energy usage.
6. Utilize Ceiling Fans
By reducing reliance on air conditioning, ceiling fans are a cost-effective and energy-efficient way to improve your home’s comfort. In addition to being used alone on cooler days, they can also be used in conjunction with your HVAC system to distribute air more evenly. In doing so, ceiling fans can make your home feel cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
One tip? Run your ceiling fans counterclockwise in the summertime to create a cooling breeze. When temperatures outside plummet, keep your home cozy by reversing the fan’s direction to push warm air down.
Finally, be sure to schedule regular HVAC system maintenance and filter changes to keep it running in peak condition.
And remember, sustainability is not a destination, but a journey. While not all of these strategies may be feasible at the moment, even small steps—such as unplugging electronic devices and appliances when not in use, as many still consume energy when in standby mode—can make a difference.
Prioritizing an energy-efficient home is a worthwhile endeavor—for both the environment and your finances. By embracing these and other eco-friendly practices, you’ll enjoy long-term savings on your energy bills while gaining the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’re doing your part to create a greener and more sustainable planet.