Are you concerned about the amount of energy you use in and around your home? Here are 12 easy-to-implement ideas your family go low-energy at home.
1. Do a home energy audit. Go through your home and note the type and location of insulation, the state of the weather stripping on windows and doors, lighting, and so forth. As you do your audit, keep the following tips in mind.
2. Insulate your walls. If you remove a wall switch plate and you don’t see any insulation behind it, you probably don’t have insulation in your walls. That is a key priority if you are going to have a low-energy home. You can have insulation blown into your walls behind the siding. There are eco-friendly options for blown insulation, too.
3. Insulate your attic. Your attic should have at least a foot of insulation. A lot of heat loss can occur if the insulation is not adequate. Add more as necessary, and check for leaks and cracks between the side of the house and the eaves.
4. Replace your faucets with low-flow ones, or low-flow aerators. These are available for showers, kitchen and bathroom faucets. They are very inexpensive, and can save you a bundle in water bills and energy use.
5. Keep cool with fans and shade in the summer. Rather than automatically switching to air conditioning when the outside temperature gets above 75, try running fans placed in screened windows during the night and early morning. Draw curtains and blinds to block the sun as the day gets hotter, and move the fans out of the windows (so you aren’t drawing in hot air, but conserving the cool night and morning air). If you must run the air conditioner, try to limit it to several hours in the late afternoon.
6. Let the sunshine in. In the winter, open curtains, shades and blinds during the day to let warming sunshine in. At night, close the blinds and curtains to keep cold air from leaking in around the edges of the windows, and warm air from leaking out.
7. Hang your laundry out to dry. If you have a screened-in porch, you can hang it out all year round. This saves a lot of energy – clothes dryers use quite a bit of electricity.
8. Insulate your water heater and pipes.
9. Turn off the lights. This advice is ignored as often as it is repeated, but it’s still important. When you leave a room, get into the habit of turning off the light(s). Even if you are in a room, use the natural light whenever possible. When you do need electric lighting – such as when you have the blinds and curtains drawn against the sunlight – use lights with LED or CFL bulbs.
10. Turn it off! Turn off electronic devices at night, or when they are not in use.
11. Set up a rain barrel or two. The water can be used to wash your hair, cars, pets, and to water plants (don’t drink it, though).
12. Invest in energy-efficient appliances. Regardless of what appliances you have, use them efficiently. Don’t hold the refrigerator door open, for example, or preheat the oven for excessive amounts of time.