Being smart with how you maintain your home and use your home’s appliances has long-lasting benefits to the planet by reducing your daily energy consumption.
Eco-friendly changes can be surprisingly simple and affordable — so how can you save a little green while making your home greener? The first step is to identify where energy dollars are “flying out of your home,” says Mike Nicholson, owner of Nicholson Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, a family-owned business based in Holliston, Massachusetts.
Here are six energy-saving tips worth starting today.
1. Repair seal cracks
One of the biggest problems homeowners face is air leakage. Conditioned air that constantly seeps through cracks and is replaced by unconditioned air costs homeowners big bucks, says Nicholson.
Repairing sealing leaks could cut your heating and cooling bills anywhere from 5% - 40%
Use your hand to feel for air around cracks near doors, windows and anywhere the exterior structure of the home has been joined together. Leaks can be sealed with caulk, weather stripping, spray foam insulation or even Flex Seal.
For a thorough leak inspection, hire a contractor to do a blower door test. This involves placing a blower door fan at the front of your house to suck out inside air and depressurize your house. This lets outside air come in through the leaks. While your house is depressurized, the contractor uses a pressure reader with a light to scan areas of your home. If a cold-air leak is detected, the light turns blue. If a warm-air leak is detected, the light turns red.
2. Use power strips
Electronics drain energy, even when turned off. Plugging electronics and appliances into a power strip helps minimize standby power, which is electricity that plugged-in devices draw from outlets even when they’re turned off.
Using power strips and turning them off when you leave a room can cut your household power usage by up to 10%.
3. Fix leaky faucets
One drip per second from a leaky faucet wastes 3,000 gallons of water per year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). You’ll see that wasted water show up on your water bill. A leaky faucet costs anywhere from $20 to $200 a year, depending on the extent of the leak.
4. Replace old bulbs with LED bulbs
LED lights can use up to 85% less energy than conventional bulbs, last longer and save you up to $75 over their lifespan.
Buying LED bulbs instead of fluorescent bulbs saves money
If you use an LED bulb for around two hours a day, paying the national average of 12 cents per kilowatt-hour, a 12-watt LED bulb sets you back about $1 per year, according to CNET. Compare that to a conventional bulb, which costs around $5 each year in the same scenario.
Nicholson recommends choosing LED bulbs over compact fluorescent bulbs. LED bulbs cost more upfront, but their energy savings and extended lifespan easily offset the cost.
5. Install solar panels
Solar energy can power anything that requires electricity or gas in your home while cutting your energy costs. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, solar panels can also increase the value of your home by up to $15,000.
The solar energy business is booming, which means there are plenty of companies to choose from based on the style, size and type of solar panel you want. To find out if solar panels are the right fit for you, we recommend familiarizing yourself with the cost of installation and the pros and cons.
6. Invest in energy-efficient appliances
Investing in top-of-the-line, energy-efficient appliances can save up to 30% on your monthly electric bill. Buying new appliances all at once is a big expense, however. If you want to start small, try switching over one appliance at a time and watch your energy bill shrink. You can save money by researching the best time of year to buy appliances.