By Tali Wee of Zillow.
Hey everyone! Lisha here. Today we have a guest blogger from the home and realty site zillow.com! Kyle and I use zillow a lot when looking up homes for sale online. It’s definitely one of the best sites. We like it especially because you can view all listings map-style so you know you’re looking at homes in the area of your choice. So when Tali contacted us about contributing a guest post we were like “heck yeah!” So here is her informative post on how you can save more energy, for less money!
Energy-efficient homes serve a double purpose, benefiting the environment and the wallets of homeowners. Owning a home can be an expensive responsibility with bills, maintenance and mortgage payments due each month. Home energy prices are a major contributor to the high costs of owning a home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, families spend at least $2,000 annually on utility bills.
As the cooler months approach, it’s smart to evaluate home energy costs and ways to conserve heat to reduce household usage. Here are seven affordable tips to become more energy efficient at home.
1. Lower the Thermostat
Heating accounts for 45 percent of home energy usage, the highest energy-consuming aspect of the home. (U.S. Dept. of Energy)
If 70 degrees is comfortable, test out a lower 68 degrees on the thermostat. Drop the temperature a bit lower and wear an extra layer. The U.S. Dept. of Energy claims a homeowner’s energy bill drops 3 percent for every degree the thermostat is lowered. Consider keeping the temperature at 62 degrees while around the home and perhaps lower at night when bundled up in bed.
If the family spends most of their time in one room, close the door and use a direct heat supply such as an energy-conserving space heater. Otherwise, leave all interior doors open to let the warm air circulate throughout the home.
Homeowners can save substantially by adding attic insulation ($40 for 25 feet) that prevents rising heat from escaping. Next, purchase window insulation film kits for less than $20. Simply apply the plastic film and shrink to fit with a hairdryer. The film acts as a storm window for much cheaper than the cost of upgraded windows. The water heater and pipes should also be insulated to protect the heated water from losing its temperature as it travels from the heater to the faucet. Pipe insulation costs about $4 for 6 feet.
Use sunlight to conserve heat by opening drapes during the day allowing sunlight to warm the home, and closing them at night to protect against the cold outdoor temperatures. Even banking snow on the exterior of the home provides extra insulation during the coldest months.
3. Block Drafts
Identify drafts by holding a lit candle near windows; when the flame flickers, a gap is present. Seal any gaps around windows, doors or other holes in the home such as entry points for cable cords, electrical boxes or wires, hose bibs or phone cords. Use an acrylic caulk ($5 and caulk gun for $25) for small gaps and consider spray foam ($10 to $15) for larger gaps. Purchasing weather stripping for the windows (ranges in price from $5 to $15 per window).
Drafty doors should be sealed with metal, rubber or foam weather stripping ($10 to $30). Attach a door sweep ($25) to the bottom of the door to narrow the gap and consider installing a door threshold ($20 to $60) on the floor below the door. Or without spending a dime, roll up a towel and place it in front of the door to prevent loss of heated air.
Chimneys allow warm air to escape. Be sure the flue damper is closed when not in use and consider installing a chimney balloon ($50 to $80) to prevent heat loss.
4. Maintain Heating Vents and Ducts
Heating unit filters should be cleaned or replaced once every three months. Keeping the filter clean allows air to circulate more easily, using less energy. Look at the air ducts; untangle any pinched ducts to ensure air flows without disruption.
Regularly clear dryer vents and outside vents where hot air is released. A buildup of dryer lint in either location causes the dryer to use excess energy to dry clothes. Consider line-drying clothes indoors.
5. Clean the Water Heater
Water heaters are the second most energy-consuming feature of the home, responsible for 18 percent of home energy usage. (U.S. Dept. of Energy)
Once each year, gas and oil water heaters should be flushed of sediment. Keeping the water heater in quality working condition costs less in the long run by preserving the machinery and energy.
6. Run Only Full Loads
Though obvious, wait to wash a load of laundry until the basin is full of clothes. Running multiple small loads uses more energy than larger loads. Also hold off on running the dishwasher until the racks are full. Another dishwasher tip is to avoid the heated dry cycle and simply hand dry the dishes.
7. Replace Light Bulbs
Lighting is the fourth highest energy-consuming function in the household, accounting for 6 percent of the total energy usage.
Incandescent light bulbs are not designed to be energy efficient. Replace older bulbs with compact fluorescent ($5 to $15) or LED ($16 to $25) lighting. Both are pricy in comparison to incandescent, but great investments as they’re energy efficient and long lasting. LEDs last the longest.
Home shoppers should look for homes in good condition, already weatherized and energy efficient. But even older homes can be spruced up on a low budget to conserve energy and save homeowners significant utility costs each year.
What are some ways that you save on energy costs? Share your tips with everyone in a comment!