We all want to save money while helping the environment, and one simple way to do that is to scrutinize your energy usage at home. Here are 10 easy, low-cost tips for making your house operate more efficiently.
1. Insulate the water heater.
Older natural gas storage water heaters can lose a lot of heat through their walls. Wrapping a heater in an insulating jacket can prevent excess heat loss and energy waste, but should be left to a professional installer so as not to accidentally cover the top, bottom, thermostat or burner compartment.
2. Seal leaks with weatherstripping.
Air sealing, specifically weatherstripping, eliminates drafts to save energy while improving air quality and comfort. Weatherstripping reduces air leakage by creating a tight seal between movable components such as doors and windows. Before application, detect air leaks and assess the ventilation. Find air leaks through a blower door test from a qualified technician, or by inspecting inside and outside the home.
3. Insulate water pipes.
Insulate hot water pipes to reduce heat loss and keep the water from cooling off before it reaches the tap. Adding insulation also will prevent cold water pipes from freezing.
4. Replace or clean the furnace filter.
Change the heating system’s furnace air filter on a regular basis to keep air flowing without overworking equipment. This also keeps out dust and dirt that can lead to expensive repairs or early system failure. A clean furnace filter can lower natural gas consumption by up to 2 percent.
5. Use less hot water.
Reducing hot water use is an easy, affordable way to see significant savings on energy and water bills. Run the automatic dishwasher only when full, and wash and rinse full loads of laundry in cold water. Install low-flow showerheads, and don’t forget to check for and repair plumbing leaks.
6. Use ceiling fans.
Save on heating costs by using an ENERGY STAR® certified ceiling fan, which helps warm air circulate better and allows for setting the furnace temperature lower.
7. Install a programmable or smart thermostat.
Programmable and smart thermostats can lower heating expenses and fit any lifestyle. Set the thermostat at 68 F, and then program it to decrease the temperature 8 degrees when no one is home and overnight. Smart thermostats are similar to programmable thermostats, but they also perform more advanced functions. A smart thermostat allows you to monitor and control the temperature in your home remotely from your smartphone or other web-enabled device.
8. Look for ENERGY STAR.
If purchasing a new appliance, make it an ENERGY STAR rated appliance. For instance, an ENERGY STAR certified refrigerator uses less energy than a regular 75-watt light bulb.
9. Lower the water heater thermostat.
Set your water heater thermostat to 120 F to save energy and money. For most homeowners, storage water heaters set above 120 F are simply using more energy without providing any additional benefits. One set to even 140 F can waste $36 to $61 annually in standby heat loss, and more than $400 in demand loss. Be sure to turn down the water heater when going on vacation to avoid energy waste.
10. Be smart with the fireplace.
Open-hearth fireplaces draw heated air from inside the home, sending it up the chimney. When using the fireplace, install a snug-fitting set of glass doors and crack open a nearby window. Doing so reduces the amount of heated interior air drawn into the fireplace and improves efficiency by up to 20 percent.