When it comes to your home, having an energy-efficient residence offers many benefits. Not only are you helping the environment, but you could be saving money on your monthly utility bills. If either of those reasons gets you excited, then now is a great time to get started.
Many people want to go green, but they believe that doing so entails costly upgrades and a total remodel of their entire home, but that is not true. The fact is that there are many simple changes that you can make around the home that will save energy, and some of them won’t cost a dime. Let’s look at some budget-friendly tips and where to get help if you want to do more.
Before searching for a contractor to remodel your home, look at what you already have, and learn to fix it to cease the waste of energy and resources. A lot of heating and air conditioning is wasted due to windows that have cracks around the perimeter. To avoid wasted air through these spaces, caulk around the outside of the frame and then paint over it for a seamless transition.
Windows are key to energy efficiency, if only because they can eliminate the need to use electricity to light a room. If you have room in the budget, splurge a bit on more windows so you can take advantage of that natural light, and the cost savings will be worth it years down the road. Consider rearranging your rooms, so the sun is always working in your favor. For example, you could move your desk closer to the window so you can work longer without needing the lights. When inevitably, the darkness does descend, continue your positive environmental impact by using LED bulbs that use less energy over time.
Also, take a look around the bathroom, specifically under the sinks where you could be wasting resources in the form of leaking water. Make sure to fix these pipes, so your water is flowing efficiently and clean out clogs twice per year. This might also be a good time to consider installing inexpensive but efficient showerheads. The Department of Energy recommends finding one that has a flow rate of fewer than 2.5 gallons per minute. These will do the job while wasting less water and saving money on your water bill.
Reduce Energy Usage
The next step is simply to use less energy with smart and strategic steps that your family can implement every day. This is a good time to instruct kids on how to save energy by only turning on the lights when necessary and turning them off when they leave the room. Shorter showers will also use less water, so encourage efficient cleaning or take baths instead.
Depending on where you live, summers can be incredibly hot, and winters might be unbearably cold, and the tendency might be to blast the air conditioning or heat in these scenarios. However, by adjusting your thermostat a few degrees, you can save a lot on your energy costs. Experts recommend keeping your thermostat at 68 degrees in the winter and no higher than 78 degrees in the summer. While you are out of the house at work and school, you can adjust it even further by 7-10 degrees since you won’t know the difference anyway. If you have the funds, invest in a smart thermostat that will remember these settings for you.
If you feel uncomfortable with these modified temperatures, then use those all-important windows. During the winter, keep all of your blinds and draperies open so that you are getting full access to that sunlight to heat your home. Then, in the summer, close them, so you are blocking that additional heat. You can also use the power of sunshine to dry your clothes instead of using the energy-guzzling dryer.
Hire a Professional
If you have tried all of the above, but you still want to continue your efficiency improvements and see where you are spending the most money, practice a little environmental accounting. Make like the professionals and gather your utility bills. These will usually tell you how much energy you are using at specific times, so you can adjust your usage and budget your finances accordingly. If you are practicing smart heating and air conditioning usage, but it still shows higher costs, then you might have to do the repair work discussed earlier.
If you want to get a professional opinion, then you can pay for an expert to come to your home and perform an energy audit. Essentially, this is a check of your appliances, heating, cooling, and electrical systems to see how much energy is being wasted and what you can do to improve the situation. If the repairs are extensive, then you may have to look at your budget and see if you have money to pay a professional contractor.
Even though you are on a budget, you don’t want to cut corners when it comes to hiring a contractor. Take the time to look at online reviews and find a professional with experience on what you need, then go from there and get estimates to find one that works with your budget. If you are still a bit short, then you can also apply for a home improvement loan that you can pay back over time. If your credit score is a bit lacking, then making on-time payments on this loan will improve your numbers, so you can take out additional loans in the future if necessary.
Going green is a great option for your home, the planet, and your utility bills. Heed the tips above and feel good knowing that you are making a difference.
About The Author: Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. Since finishing college he is trying his hand at being a freelance writer. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics but lifestyle and home improvement topics are his favorite. When he isn’t writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or gaming.
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