With Earth Day fast approaching on April 22, now is a great time to begin thinking about “going green” with your home. Whether you’re building a new home or just want to make updates to your current home, “going green” may be more affordable than ever. Did you know…
- By changing five frequently used incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs, the typical electricity bill can be reduced by $60-$100 annually?
- By cleaning out the lint trap in your dryer regularly and washing thick materials (such as towels) separately from thin materials, you can reduce your utility bill by $100 annually?
- You can claim tax credits (sometimes up to 30 percent of the cost) of some home energy improvements such as installing an advanced main air circulating fan and energy efficient windows?
By making eco-friendly adjustments, you can save money on your utility bill while decreasing your family’s environmental impact. Here’s a few other tips.
Home Energy Audit
A home energy audit is the first step to maximize your home’s energy use. Homeowners can do a self-audit to save money or hire a professional for a more comprehensive look into energy efficiency. The Environmental Protection Agency offers a self-auditing “Home Energy Yardstick” that compares your home (using data on square footage, costs of previous energy bills, number of home occupants, etc.) to other similar homes while discussing ways to improve your home’s environmental score and lower your bills.
A professional auditor will use advanced technologies, such as an infrared camera to reveal air leaks, to determine how much energy your home uses and what measures you can take to make your home more efficient. The energy auditor will check the furnace, insulation, ductwork and more.
Check with your utility company to see if they offer a free or reduced auditing service. If not, use a certified Home Energy Rater, such as those found through ENERGY STAR for Homes Locator.
Heating and Cooling
The average homeowner spends more than $2,200 a year on utility bills with half of the costs associated with the home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. One of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to improve efficiency is to change air filters at least once every three months. Filters that accumulate dirt will slow down airflow and force the system to work harder, thus wasting energy and money.
Another way to improve your HVAC system is to refrain from keeping your thermostat at a constant temperature. A programmable thermostat can save nearly $200 a year by allowing you to program different temperatures in the morning, during the day, in the evening and during sleeping hours.
A thorough HVAC maintenance checklist is available through Energy Star’s Guide to Energy-Efficient Heating and Cooling, which includes inspecting flue piping for rusting, measuring voltage on motors and cleaning coils.
Improving your home’s insulation can lower your energy bill by ten percent while also making your home a more comfortable temperature year-round. A good place to start to improve insulation is in the attic. Insulation should be at least level with the attic floor joists. Air leak areas around other areas of the home can be repaired with caulk, spray foam or weather stripping. Windows also play a vital role in insulation. ENERGY STAR windows can reduce energy bills by 7-24 percent compared to non-qualified windows by reducing undesirable heat loss and gain.
Just a few simple steps like these when spring cleaning your home’s energy usage will create a more comfortable home, lower your utility bills and decrease the use of valuable fossil fuels.