5 Simple Steps to Home Energy Efficiency
We all consume energy in our homes and the costs can really stack up if the home is not energy efficient. The benefits of an energy efficient home are better indoor comfort, reduced pollution, reduced impct on climate change, and of course cost savings to the homeowner. Luckily, there are several simple things homeowners can do to make their homes run on less energy and they require little effort in the long run.
1. Replace incandescent lights.
The average household dedicates 11% of its energy budget to lighting. Traditional incandescent lights convert approximately only 10% of the energy they consume into light, while the rest becomes heat. The use of new lighting technologies, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), can reduce the energy use required by lighting by 50% to 75%. Advances in lighting controls offer further energy savings by reducing the amount of time that lights are on but not being used. Here are some facts about CFLs and LEDs:
CFLs use 75% less energy and last about 10 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.
LEDs last even longer than CFLs and consume less energy.
LEDs have no moving parts and, unlike CFLs, they contain no mercury.
2. Seal and insulate your home.
Sealing and insulating your home is one of the most cost-effective ways to make a home more comfortable and energy-efficient, and you can do it yourself. A tightly sealed home can improve comfort and indoor air quality while reducing utility bills. An InterNACHI energy auditor can assess leakage in the building envelope and recommend fixes that will dramatically increase comfort and energy savings.
The following are some common places where leakage may occur:
around pipes and wires;
wall- or window-mounted air conditioners;
inadequate weatherstripping around doors;
window frames; and
3. Insulate windows and doors.
About one-third of the home's total heat loss usually occurs through windows and doors. The following are ways to reduce energy lost through windows and doors:
Seal all window edges and cracks with rope caulk. This is the cheapest and simplest option.
Windows can be weatherstripped with a special lining that is inserted between the window and the frame. For doors, apply weatherstripping around the whole perimeter to ensure a tight seal when they're closed. Install quality door sweeps on the bottom of the doors, if they aren't already in place.
Install storm windows at windows with only single panes. A removable glass frame can be installed over an existing window.
If existing windows have rotted or damaged wood, cracked glass, missing putty, poorly fitting sashes, or locks that don't work, they should be repaired or replaced.
4. Change the way you do laundry.
Do not use the medium setting on your washer. Wait until you have a full load of clothes, as the medium setting saves less than half of the water and energy used for a full load.
Avoid using high-temperature settings when clothes are not very soiled. Water that is 140° F uses far more energy than 103° F for the warm-water setting, but 140° F isn’t that much more effective for getting clothes clean.
Clean the lint trap every time before you use the dryer. Not only is excess lint a fire hazard, but it will prolong the amount of time required for your clothes to dry.
If possible, air-dry your clothes on lines and racks.
Spin-dry or wring clothes out before putting them into a dryer.
5. Cook smart.
An enormous amount of energy is wasted while cooking. The following recommendations and statistics illustrate less wasteful ways of cooking:
Convection ovens are more efficient that conventional ovens. They use fans to force hot air to circulate more evenly, thereby allowing food to be cooked at a lower temperature. Convection ovens use approximately 20% less electricity than conventional ovens.
Microwave ovens consume approximately 80% less energy than conventional ovens.
Pans should be placed on the matching size heating element or flame.
Using lids on pots and pans will heat food more quickly than cooking in uncovered pots and pans.
Pressure cookers reduce cooking time dramatically.
When using conventional ovens, food should be placed on the top rack. The top rack is hotter and will cook food faster.
These simple steps can reduce energy consumption and the benefits far outweigh the effort required. There are more things homeowners can do to take their energy efficiency to the next level, which we will cover next time.