With video games, big-screen televisions, and high-tech smart appliances, today’s homes rely more heavily upon electricity than ever before. Accompanying this ever-climbing usage is over-consumption of precious resources and continually rising energy bills. In just one year, from 2013 to 2014, the average residential electricity price rose 3.2%, with the average monthly electric bill reaching roughly $110.
The good news is that we’re not powerless to turn things around. By making our homes more energy efficient, we can improve the comfort, conserve energy, and save money by lowering energy costs.
Energy Efficiency Measures
There are many areas in your home where you can improve your energy efficiency; it’s not just about turning off the lights or unplugging unused appliances—although that does help!
Going energy efficient means looking at the whole picture, including…
Insulation. Key to the efficiency of a house is its ability to retain expensively heated or cooled room air. If you spend a small fortune heating or air conditioning your home’s interior spaces, and that comfortably conditioned air just leaks out through poorly insulated walls, ceiling, and floors, you’re wasting a tremendous amount of energy and money.
Attic insulation is the most important, followed by walls and floors.
Ductwork. With central heating, a home’s furnace or air conditioner distributes conditioned air through a system of ductwork. But, because relatively short runs of ductwork are connected end-to-end to make-up that system, there is considerable opportunity for heat (or cooling) loss through leaks. In fact leaks and gaps in ductwork can waste up to 40% of the energy used in heating or cooling. Finding and fixing ductwork leaks is a great way to improve energy efficiency.
Appliances & devices. Old, outdated appliances waste electricity. New appliances, on the other hand, are designed to save energy. In fact, most new appliances with ENERGY STAR certification use about 50% less energy than their less-efficient counterparts—without any loss in functionality.
Efficient large appliances such as refrigerators or dryers can save up to $100 a year or more. And small savings add up. Energy-saving compact-fluorescent light bulbs, for example, can make a big impact on reducing your energy usage because you use them many hours every day. Here’s an interesting fact: If every U.S. household swapped just one light bulb for an energy-saving one, global warming pollution would decrease by over 90 billion pounds over the lifespan of the light bulbs.
Get Energy Incentives
Many programs are available to help homeowners make the transition to better energy efficiency. Most power companies provide special offers and rebates to help homeowners upgrade homes with energy conservation in mind. Many local and state governments also offer tax credits for similar upgrades.
But say you’ve made the decision to save energy and money by improving the energy efficiency of your home. How do you know which upgrades to make, and what incentives or rebates are available?
There’s An App For That!
When it comes to improving the energy usage of your home, not knowing exactly what your home needs to increase its energy efficiency can be confusing and stressful. You may not know how to get the biggest bang for your buck. Making more conscious purchasing decisions can definitely help, but you might be neglecting important strategies without a little guidance.
Luckily, there are apps available that allow you to learn more about your home, your energy consumption, and what you can do to make improvements. Homeselfe, for example, is a free do-it-yourself app that enables you to assess your home’s energy efficiency. For more about this, see Homeselfe.
By making your home more energy efficient, you can increase its comfort, and make it more affordable to operate—and you can do your part in decreasing global energy usage. Furthermore, improving a home’s energy efficiency increases its value. Studies have shown that energy-smart homes garner higher prices when they’re sold. All of these benefits make energy efficiency a win-win.