Learn how to create an energy efficient home, which can help to reduce your carbon footprint and help you meet your sustainability goals.
Sometimes, it can feel like too much needs to be done to protect the planet and a few minor changes won’t make a difference. But, even the smallest changes would make a big difference if everyone committed to making them. The most crucial step to make when trying to protect the planet is just to start. If you are looking for the best ways to begin making eco-friendly changes, these tips should help you get started.
What’s your home’s sustainability potential?
If you are thinking of buying a new property (or looking for a home for sale that meets your needs) researching its eco potential is key to ensuring you make it a sustainable place to live.
If you are already settled in a home, it is still possible to make changes to help increase your home’s eco-credentials, too, without a full remodel.
Simply assessing where alterations need to be made to your property to make it run more efficiently will help to guide you. Once you start making changes to your home, you should be able to see how much energy you are saving from your improvements by comparing your electricity and gas consumption.
One of the easiest changes that reduce your home’s carbon footprint is assessing your energy use. Most homes have areas for improvement here, and many of these changes can be done swiftly and without much expense.
Switching to energy-saving light bulbs is a great start. Look out for bulbs that feature the EnergyStar logo, and you will be improving the energy efficiency of your lighting by up to 90 percent. This means reduced costs on energy use and reduced need for replacements.
The two types of energy efficient bulbs are LEDs (light emitting diode) and CFLs (compact fluorescent light). While both are better choices than incandescent bulbs of the past, LEDs last longer than CFLs—about two to four times longer. With a CFL you can expect a bulb lifespan of about 10,000 to 15,000 hours; an LED will last 25,000 to 35,000 hours.
Other changes you can make to save energy in your home include reducing how often you use energy-hungry appliances, such as the washer and dryer. Switching away from warm or hot to cold water washes helps to reduce energy use and may extend the life of your clothes, too—it’s certainly better for preserving brighter colors.
By drying clothes outside rather than putting them in the dryer—or re-wearing sturdier items like jeans or sweaters a few times before washing and drying—you can reduce the appliance use.
Ensuring your heating and cooling system is operating efficiently is also helpful and will prevent it from using more energy than needed. If your HVAC is no longer operating at its best, it will use up more electricity than is necessary to maintain a constant temperature in your home.
Most homes now come with programmable thermostats, and setting those to conserve heating and cooling will keep costs down, too. Set your thermostat to 78F in the summer and 68F in the winter. If you can go another degree or two, it pays off as every degree of extra heating or cooling increases energy usage between six and eight percent.
Need to replace appliances? You can upgrade to more energy efficient options like Bertazzoni’s eco ranges and energy-saving refrigerator options from sustainable appliance leader Miele.
When your home is well insulated, it makes it a more comfortable place to live, helps to reduce your carbon footprint, and saves money. So, improving your home’s insulation is a win-win situation.
When your home is not insulated effectively, it can mean your home’s heat is escaping through the roof and gaps in the windows and doors in winter. In summer, the cool air generated by your air conditioning will also disappear out of your roof if your insulation is not performing at its best.
Older homes may have inefficient windows that lose heat in the winter or cool air in the summer. Storm windows can help if you can’t replace your windows to more energy efficient options. There are also tinting options to help keep sun out. But sun can help warm your home in the cooler months and reduce the need for artificial lighting, too. Solar shades are another option that can improve energy efficiency.
Likewise, having your insulation checked by a professional and improved if necessary should help make a noticeable difference to your home’s temperature and help to keep your energy bills lower.
Sealing up any drafty spots or leaks, and adding insulation and energy efficient windows, can save up to 10 percent on home heating and cooling costs while making it a cozier, more sustainable sanctuary, too.