With an Energy-Efficient Home, Every Day Is Earth Day
As technology advances, it’s easier than ever to make our homes more energy efficient and better for the planet.
With just a few small changes, you can improve your home’s efficiency, your energy costs, and your impact. To celebrate Earth Day, here are some of our favorite ways to have an energy-efficient home.
Energy Efficiency in the Kitchen
Increase Refrigerator Temperature Settings
Most refrigerators run colder than they need to be. If you know how to adjust the temperature settings in your refrigerator, you can use less energy and still keep your food safe.
Generally, a refrigerator temperature of 37 degrees and a freezer temperature of 0 degrees is enough to keep your food safe while reducing your energy costs. Experiment with the temperature of your refrigerator until you find what works best for your home.
Invest in ENERGY STAR Appliances
ENERGY STAR refrigerators and appliances improve your energy efficiency and energy costs while providing you with the best features. Certified ENERGY STAR refrigerators are about a 9% improvement over other brands, offering a potential savings of up to $220.
The little ENERGY STAR badge isn’t just for kitchen appliances. You can find ENERGY STAR water heaters, TVs, and laundry machines.
Use the Burner Wisely
Most stoves have small and large burners, and perhaps double burners with a small inner ring and a larger outer ring. These are designed to suit your cookware’s size and ensure you’re not wasting energy cooking your food. Be sure to always use the burner that’s the right size for your pots and pans to lower your energy use.
Turn Off the Ice Maker
Automatic ice makers are convenient to have, but they can increase a refrigerator’s energy use by up to 20%. Consider turning yours off from time to time to reduce your refrigerators energy consumption. Instead, use old-fashioned refillable ice cube trays.
Wash Your Laundry in Cold Water When Possible
Based on research from Treehugger.com, 90% of the energy consumption of your washer comes from heating the water. The remaining 10% is all it takes to run. If you wash your clothes in cold water instead of hot, you’ll make a big impact on your energy consumption and costs when doing laundry.
There are also major benefits to washing your clothing in cold water. A cold-water bath will preserve the color of the fabric and stop clothing from shrinking or becoming misshapen.
Energy Efficiency in the Bathroom
Install a Low-Flow Showerhead
Low-flow showerheads have a flow rate less than 2.5 gallons per minute, which is significantly lower than the 5 gallons per minute of a normal showerhead. Switching to low-flow showerheads improves your water efficiency and reduces your costs, not to mention conserving water.
Turn Off Unnecessary Water
Letting your water when not in use is an unnecessary waste that can contribute to gallons of loss each year. If you leave the water running while you do dishes, shave, or brush your teeth, you could be costing yourself an additional $170 a year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). You could also take showers instead of baths, which saves over 50 gallons, and only wash clothes when you have a full load.
Replace Incandescent Light Bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) or LEDs
Incandescent bulbs were only discontinued recently, so many homes still use them. Energy-efficient bulbs, such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and LED lightbulbs, provide excellent lighting at a reduced energy cost. Most homes have 40 or more bulbs, so consider switching your old bulbs out for CFLs or even LEDs.
Energy Efficiency in the Home
Schedule Regular Tune-Ups for Your HVAC System
A poorly maintained HVAC system can waste a lot of energy and may suffer the effects of wear and tear. If you’ve neglected your HVAC system, schedule HVAC maintenance to keep your system running at its best and reduce the energy costs for both summer and winter.
Assess Your Insulation and Consider Investing in New or Better Insulation
Insulation is designed to keep the cool or warm air in and the cold or hot air out. If your insulation is old or outdated, you could be losing valuable heating and air during the cold winter and hot summer months. Consider replacing your insulation with newer and more efficient insulation. The upfront cost is worth the reduction in energy costs and waste.
Lower Your Thermostat
The simple measure of lowering your thermostat’s temperature when you’re not home can translate to incredible energy savings. Only 10 or 15 degrees can save you 5 to 15% each year, according to Energy.gov.
Weather Seal, Update, or Replace Your Windows
Old, damaged, or poorly insulated windows allow your heating and air to escape, impacting the comfort of your home and your energy costs. Weatherstripping around the window frames and caulking any cracks around the edges can make a big difference. However, it’s important to consider replacing your windows if they’re in bad shape or outdated.
Start a Compost Pile
Composting is a great solution to recycling dead leaves, food scraps, and other organic material.
Here’s how you can start your own compost:
- Build a compost heap in an open area with good drainage.
- Add organic materials in layers. Focus on nitrogen/greens and carbon/browns, alternating them to get a good mix. Lightly water each layer.
- Avoid using human or animal waste, meat and dairy products, or diseased plants in your compost pile.
- Turn the compost regularly to speed up the decomposition process.