How does that sound a few hundred dollars extra in your pocket? And why not love extending the life of your home’s major appliances and systems? That’s the minimum you’ll save – and the least you might expect – this year with the following energy efficiency tips from Rachel Rothman, chief technologist at the Good Housekeeping Institute.
Along with increasing your household budget, reducing energy use will also help Mother Earth (hey, every little bit counts). With so many benefits for making your home and household more energy efficient, there is no time like the present to begin with.
Heat and cool for less
Together, heating and air conditioning account for more than half of the total energy costs of an average home, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Replacing obsolete equipment will result in the biggest savings, thanks to major innovations in manufacturing.
For example, if your central air conditioning unit is over ten years old, upgrading to a new high efficiency unit will reduce cooling costs by about a third. The savings could be even greater if you opt for a heat pump system, which reduces energy consumption by up to 60%. Many York Split System heat pumps, which can provide both heating and cooling, carry the Good Housekeeping seal; in addition, they are eligible for federal tax credits of $ 300.
Upgrading to a new high efficiency HVAC system will reduce your cooling costs by about a third.
If you don’t need to replace your heating and air conditioning equipment, but your thermostat is old, switching to a new smart thermostat is another great way to save money, as the device automatically adjusts temperatures when you sleep. or that you are absent.
Did you know that if you add up all the gaps and cracks around windows and doors in an average home, that is equivalent to leaving an entire window open 24/7? Sealing those leaks with a combination of caulk, weatherstripping, and expandable sealing foam (our testers found this one to be very easy to use, even for novice DIYers) could cut your annual energy costs by $ 100 or more. more.
To find the biggest leaks in your home, turn on all kitchen, bathroom, and attic exhaust fans, and hold a lit incense stick by windows, outlets, doors, and other suspicious places. If the smoke is blowing to the side, you have a leak.
You can also hire a professional for an energy audit. They will use infrared cameras and other sophisticated equipment to identify each inefficiency in the house, then provide the best treatment for each. Audits cost between $ 200 and $ 700, depending on the size of your home; discounts often apply.
Take it easy with the hot water
It’s easy to forget that hot water consumes energy. In fact, it’s probably about 15% of your total energy bill. If your water heater is over ten years old, switching to a new high efficiency unit could cut your energy use in half and save $ 3,500 over the life of the unit.
When it comes to behavior changes, taking shorter showers and washing clothes in cold water will give your water heater a break, adding months, if not years, to the life of the device. You should also skip the pre-rinse if you’re running a dishwasher cycle right away, as our tests have shown that today’s dishwashers, with their advanced sensors and spray technology, do the job. without this. Plus, running a full charge is always an energy-efficient move.
And the next time you’re up for a great weekend project, replace all old shower heads with low-flow models, saving up to 2,700 gallons per year.
Master the “power of the vampires”
The typical American home has over 20 electronic devices – televisions, computers, media players, etc. – and many of them consume electricity even when not in active use. This so-called “vampire power” could account for up to 10% of your electric bill, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The safest solution is to plug power-hungry electronics, including video game consoles and cable boxes, into an advanced power strip that will prevent them from drawing power when not. used.
Power strips prevent electronics from consuming power when not in use.
Another wise move: grab a few smart plugs, which will allow you to control the electronics remotely through the smartphone app. So if you forget to turn off the window air conditioner before you leave town for the weekend, you can do it from the road.
Put the sun to work
That big fireball in the sky has a huge impact on your energy costs. For starters, there is solar heat gain, which is good in winter because it helps warm the house, but bad in summer for the same reason. When replacing windows, choose units with special coatings on the glass that will reduce heat loss or heat gain, depending on your climate. Awnings, blinds, and even a well-placed shade tree can have the same effect.
Then there are more direct ways to harness the power of the sun. While surely an investment, rooftop solar panels can provide enough electricity to power an entire home. They are expensive to install, but federal tax credits cover about a quarter of the cost ($ 10,000 or more in many cases). Depending on the electricity rates in your state, this could help the system pay for itself in ten years or less.
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