Winter Energy Savings: How to Reduce Your Energy Bill and Carbon Footprint
Winter is here, and along with the cold comes a rise in energy consumption. With energy costs constantly increasing, it’s no surprise that many of us are looking for ways to reduce our bills. While switching to LED light bulbs is a good start, there are many other ways to make your home more energy efficient. In this article, we’ll examine the three main areas to focus on: improving the energy efficiency of your home’s structure, upgrading and operating your appliances efficiently, and adopting good energy practices.
1. Seal Off Your House from Potential Drafts and Energy Leaks
Poor insulation is one of the biggest culprits of energy loss in the colder months. Installing new replacement windows can help combat this issue, as up to 38% of your home’s energy loss is through poorly insulated windows and doors. Single-pane windows or aluminum sliders can increase this percentage to as high as 50%. Replacing aluminum windows can make a huge difference in the energy efficiency of your home, since aluminum has a much higher heat transferability than other materials such as vinyl, fiberglass, or wood windows.
Another way to improve insulation is to add more insulation to your walls, ceiling, and attic. Caulking and weather-stripping around your doors and ensuring that your windows are properly sealed can also prevent drafts that steal precious energy.
To make your home more energy efficient, consider these steps:
– Replace your old windows with low-conductive, double-paned windows.
– Properly insulate the walls, ceiling, and attic in your home.
– Close all ducts and furnaces in unused rooms.
– Seal your furnace/AC duct work to keep air enclosed and avoid losing hot/cool air.
– Close your fireplace damper when not in use.
2. Upgrade and Run Your Appliances Efficiently
Replacing older appliances with new, energy-efficient models can significantly decrease your energy usage. Water heaters, furnaces, refrigerators, and air-conditioning units are the biggest energy-using appliances in the home. To see the best results, replace any outdated units with Energy Star-certified models and understand how to operate them most efficiently.
Other ways to improve the efficiency of your appliances include:
– Getting low-flow showerheads, toilets, and washing machines to reduce water waste.
– Upgrading to a high-efficiency water heater unit and setting the temperature between 120-140 degrees.
– Changing your air filters regularly to keep your appliances running at peak efficiency.
3. Follow Good Energy Practices
It’s essential to be aware that some of the top energy users in your home aren’t even appliances. iPhones, microwaves, game consoles, and TV boxes all have the potential to pull more energy than a medium-sized Energy Star-rated refrigerator. These items consume energy even when plugged in and not in use.
Here are some energy-saving practices to follow:
– Turn off computer monitors, TVs, and lights when not in use.
– Unplug old refrigerators instead of using them as backups just to suck energy.
– Plant trees and other landscaping items to provide your home with shade to keep it cool.
– Use a programmable thermostat to reduce unnecessary heating when you aren’t home.
– Change your lightbulbs to Energy Star models and LEDs.
– Unplug any appliances when gone on vacation or for long periods of time.
– Add solar panels to your roof to take some of the burden of energy off non-renewable resources.
In summary, a holistic approach to energy efficiency targets all three areas: the energy efficiency of the parts that make up the house itself, your appliances and other systems that use energy to function, and optimizing the energy efficiency of the sources you currently use. Optimize and improve even a few things in each category to lower your carbon footprint and reduce your monthly energy bills. By making these changes, not only will you save money, but you’ll also be doing your part to help the environment.