Why would you want to invest in making your home energy efficient? When you consider how much more comfortable your home could be in winter if less heat escaped, and when you also factor in environmental concerns, the case for reducing energy use is clear.
Thankfully, with new technology and innovation, it’s never been easier to make a few simple steps to make a big difference to your home.
Windows and doors specifically designed for high efficiency are engineered to prevent air leakage. These models trap the ideal temperature you have created inside your home, while keeping the extreme temperatures outside. Windows designed for energy efficiency also help prevent drafts, condensation and cold spots in your interiors.
Innovative technologies such as AeroframeTM thermal wall and RCM thermal inserts are smart and affordable examples of how you can use new technologies to make your windows and doors (and therefore your entire home) more energy efficient.
A really quick way of getting a handle on your energy usage is to ask your utilities provider to install a smart meter. These devices allow you to monitor your hourly energy consumption via the web. Using one will give you a better understanding of the patterns of your energy consumption which you can then moderate, as well as allowing you to take better advantage of lower rate times of day.
While it’s probably not possible in many households’ budgets to switch all appliances in one go, it may be a good idea to audit your appliances for energy consumption. New products almost always use less energy than their older equivalent, so if you need an excuse to finally get rid of that ancient refrigerator, you now have it.
Perhaps consider replacing your worst energy guzzling culprits now, and commit to replacing others as needed with the most energy-efficient version possible. Remember that sometimes, by choosing a cheaper product, you may end up spending more money in the long-term if it has a poor energy rating.
The energy guide labels found on electrical items are your friend here, as they provide an easy way for you to compare energy use credentials.
Standby modes are convenient, but when you consider that you may be spending over $100 per year just for this luxury, it’s probably worth a few extra steps to turn off the TV when you go to bed.
It’s not just remote-control products that we need to consider. Nearly all of us run our internet routers at all times, leave lights on in vacant rooms, and have other equipment sitting switched on but unused.
You should consider a standby saver device; it can control several devices through a single button that you would switch when going to bed or leaving for vacation, or on a regular timer.
For further daily energy saving, consider whether you could spend less time in the shower, or run your clothes washer less often, for example.
These may seem like small steps to make, but if you make a commitment to using most of your household appliances less, you’ll see a huge difference over a year.
Now that you’ve audited your day-to-day energy consumption, you’ll be looking to see where else you can make savings. Ensuring there are no air leaks through small gaps throughout the home can sometimes make 10 percent to 20 percent to your energy bills.
You may already be aware of draughty spots in your home, but to find others, wait for a windy day and then use an incense stick to seek them out. By holding the incense stick next to any potential gaps and looking for horizontal smoke, you’ll soon see them. Check all around window and door frames, next to electrical boxes and plumbing fixtures, and by ceiling hatches.
Once you’ve found air leaks, use caulk or foam sealant, depending on the size of the gap.
Insulation effectively adds a barrier between the inside and outside temperatures by reducing heat flow, meaning that whatever you are using to control the temperature in your home has to work less hard, and thus use much less energy.
The amount of insulation you need will depend on your climate, the type of heating you use, and where you plan to use it. It is fairly straightforward to find out the R-value recommendations from the Department of Energy that your home requires to operate efficiently, or you could contact an insulation contractor.
Obvious places to add or increase insulation are attics, exterior walls and basements, but there are other options for further savings.
By altering your thermostat settings, you may save as much energy as 10 percent and this is where new smart technology comes to be really useful.
Smart thermostats that can be controlled using a tablet or smartphone allow you to control your heating wherever you are, meaning you can very easily begin to warm your home ready for when you arrive home. They also provide lots of data on your heating system’s energy use, meaning it has never been easier to completely personalize your heating to your family’s needs, as well as working out the most frugal way of doing so.
If you have a heating system that is more than 15 years old, then chances are it’s not going to be particularly efficient and you should look into replacing it.
Although furnaces are the most popular home heating systems in the U.S., there are many alternatives that may work better in your home, such as heat pumps, boilers and active solar heating.
Remember again that an initially higher outlay may save you money in the long term.
Water heating is the second biggest drain on energy in your home. By insulating your water tank, you can usually save 10 percent, and by also insulating your pipes, a further 3 to 4 percent. Check whether this is necessary by touching the tank: If it is warm to the touch, it’s losing heat unnecessarily and would benefit from being insulated.
The average US.. home has 70 light bulbs. Not only do LED bulbs last around 20 times longer, they also use a huge 90 percent less energy than their incandescent predecessors. Each light bulb could save you $80 during its lifetime, so it’s well worth the cost of replacing your old bulbs.
Finally, it may seem odd that you can save energy inside the home from the outside, but by using some clever landscaping tricks, you can do just that. Consider how you could use trees and shrubs to add shade to keep your home cool, or add some wind breaking features to help keep your home warm, too. Beware of blocking out winter sun, however, as this would be counterproductive.
Carmen Vellila is an experienced Brand Manager currently overseeing the strategic development of multiple brands as part of the Epwin Group. She is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (ACIM), specializing in Corporate Communication and Digital Marketing.