Do you dread receiving your utility bill in the mail each month? Are you constantly struggling with family members over practicing green habits? With summer and hot, humid weather fast approaching, now is a good time to check your home for energy wasters. Here's a checklist of things you can do to make your home more energy-efficient in the coming summer months.
Cool your home efficiently. This is the number one expense you will see in warmer months, and if your cooling system is not up to par, you'll definitely see an increase in your utility bill. According to the EPA, "20% of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks and poorly sealed connections. The result is higher utility bills and difficulty keeping the house comfy, no matter how the thermostat is set." To ensure that your cooling system is working efficiently and to keep from overworking it:
- Clean your filter regularly.
- Schedule annual maintenance to make sure your system is clean and won't have to work overtime to cool your home.
- Consider replacing old systems with new energy-efficient models labeled ENERGY STAR.
- Use fresh air flow whenever you can. Ceiling fans and window fans are a good choice, but be aware of pollen and humidity levels before you decide to use them.
- Heat and cool only the portions of the home you use regularly by closing vents in seldom-used rooms.
Use natural lighting/daylighting.
Another way to keep energy usage down is to reduce the amount of lighting you use. Turn lights off during the day, open the blinds and windows, and use the natural light that streams in through windows and skylights. Bonus: Natural lighting also makes a home more inviting. Painting walls a lighter color will help with light reflection as opposed to darker colors, which absorb light.
Check your hot water system.
Hot water heating is one of the largest energy expenses in your home after heating and cooling. Have your hot water heater checked for efficiency. To reduce the amount of energy here, think about going with a tankless water heater, a heat pump, or solar energy.
Seal and insulate.
Make sure the shell of your home is free of hidden gaps and cracks, which force heating and air systems to work harder. Check out this DIY Guide to Sealing and Insulating from ENERGY STAR for tips and information.
Look for ENERGY STAR products.
The EPA recommends products from ENERGY STAR to help with energy efficiency in your home. Available products include lightbulbs, light fixtures, appliances, home electronics, office equipment, and water heaters.
Using these tips will not only give you a lower utility bill, but they will also reduce impact on the environment from energy use. What other tips do you have for an energy-efficient home?