If you’re seeking out ways to cut costs on your energy bills, look no further! We’ve got a list of home upgrades and remodels that are guaranteed to help save money. While some of them might require more of an expense up front, the savings you’ll see in the long run will more than make up for that initial investment. Here are some of the most common areas to become more energy-efficient and, as an added bonus, more environmentally friendly.
Insulation: Did you know that about half of the homes in the US are not sufficiently insulated? Insufficient insulation leads to significant air leaks in a home. In fact, according to Energy Star, if you added up all the leaks, holes, and gaps in a typical home in the United States, it would equate to keeping one window open all day, every day of the year. Sealing air leaks and adding more insulation can help you save a lot on heating and cooling costs. It can also help reduce outside noise, lessen the number of allergens and pests entering your home, and help control indoor humidity.
Programmable Thermostat: While smart thermostats might cost a little bit more than traditional ones, they can help you save about ten percent on utility bills. They’re convenient and efficient, but they’re also more accurate than traditional thermostats. Plus, the monthly savings add up to allow the thermostat to pay for itself in a matter of a few months. Bonus: app-controlled smart thermostats let you adjust the temperature in your house from literally anywhere. If you’re traveling in the winter and don’t need to heat the house while you’re gone, set the thermostat to a lower temperature. Then simply open the app when you’re on your way home, bump the temp up a little bit, and it’ll be toasty warm again when you arrive.
Higher Quality Windows and Doors: Ten to twenty-five percent of your heating and cooling efforts could literally be flying right out the window. Upgrading to modern, higher quality windows and doors will cut down on air leaks and help lower electric bills significantly. If replacing every window isn’t quite in the budget, try installing storm windows. These are fitted right over your existing windows and can reduce heat loss through older, inefficient windows by about 25 percent. Replacing your front door with a thicker, higher quality one can also help in these efforts. Just avoid hollow metal doors, as air can infiltrate them pretty easily.
Energy Star Appliances: About twenty percent of electricity bills is spent on running appliances. That number can be lowered dramatically by replacing older appliances with Energy Star fridges, dishwashers, clothes washers, and dryers. Energy Star fridges use about half as much energy as fridges manufactured a mere fifteen years ago, and about fifteen percent less than new models that don’t qualify for the Energy Star. Purchasing Energy Star appliances may be a little more of a hit to your wallet up front, but the savings you’ll see over the years to come will more than make up for it.
Water Heater: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, water heaters account for an average of 18 percent of electricity costs, making it the second largest consumer of electricity in the home. If your water heater is more than a decade old, you might consider switching it out for a new, more efficient model. A newer electric model could save you anywhere from 10 to 20 percent on heating bills, while a gas unit will save about 30 percent and a tankless one about 40 percent. If replacing the water heater isn’t in your plans or budget, think about increasing your existing unit’s energy efficiency by using a water heater blanket.
Low-Flow Fixtures: Low-flow fixtures help cut back on water consumption, but they can also help you save a few dollars on your utility bills. Installing low-flow fixtures is an inexpensive and easy project, but it can reduce your home water consumption by as much as fifty percent!
Fireplaces: The Department of Energy has stated that a lit fireplace sucks about 24,000 cubic feet of furnace-heated air up your chimney each hour. That air is replaced by cold air that comes back down the chimney, which means your furnace is working overtime to keep the chill out. If you have a traditional, wood-burning fireplace, you might want to think about sealing your chimney and upgrading to gas logs or an electric fireplace. If you love the ambience of a wood-burning fireplace too much to replace it, think about updating it with an EPA-certified wood fireplace insert. These are up to 50 percent more energy efficient; can use about one-third less wood for the same heat; reduce creosote buildup and the risk of chimney fires; and lower wood smoke pollution both inside and outside.
Ceiling Fans: While ceiling fans might not top the list favorite fixtures in home decor, they’re a necessity here in the south. Having a ceiling fan will keep you from the temptation of edging the thermostat down a degree or two when you come inside on hot summer days. According to Energy Star, a ceiling fan can reduce your energy bill by about $15 per year.
HVAC System: You can save a ton on utility bills by replacing an outdated HVAC system with a modern, more energy-efficient one. Not only are they easier on your wallet month to month, but they’re also friendlier to the environment. To really see a difference in energy usage, make sure your home is as well-insulated and sealed as possible.