Seasonable Ways to Conserve Energy and Make Your Home More Efficient
No matter the time of year, there are plenty of ways you can make your home more energy efficient. While many of these changes require an investment of your time and money, they will pay off in long-term savings on your energy costs and reduced carbon emissions. Other energy-efficient tips are based on maintaining appliances at your home, increasing their efficiency and effective lifespan.
Whether you’re preparing your home for cold winter months or the scorching heat of the summer, the following methods are proven to improve the energy efficiency of your home.
General Ways to Conserve Energy
There are a few rules when it comes to saving energy at home during any season of the year. These include:
Design Your Home in Accordance With Nature — Not Against It
Environmentalist Paul Hawken states that, “The first rule of sustainability is to align with natural forces, or at least not try to defy them.” This rings true when it comes to energy conservation at home. Instead of combating natural forces with wasteful practices, it’s better to make accommodations with the climate in mind.
There are some general ways to conserve energy in this vein. When bone-chilling breezes invade your home during the colder times of the year, it makes much more sense to insulate your home than to crank up the thermostat. Properly insulating your windows can dramatically decrease energy waste during all times of the year. Further, maintaining or replacing vent fans as needed and regularly checking air filters will allow for proper air circulation, improving energy efficiency.
Minimize Electricity Waste
Another important rule of sustainability at home is to minimize excess electricity use. A key example is unplugging “energy vampires” when they are not in use. Energy vampires are electronics that continuously use small amounts of energy, even when they are powered off. Devices that can be turned on instantly with a remote control, such as TVs, Blu-ray players, or video game consoles, are common examples. Connecting a power strip to your electric fireplace TV stand can enable you to turn off the heat, light, and entertainment center all with a simple flick of a switch.
Rather than cranking the thermostat up or down, you can also save energy by managing your heating and cooling needs through alternative methods. We’ll cover some specific methods for doing this below, but some good examples include using ceiling fans or electric fireplaces as needed. These can make your living area more comfortable without wasting excess energy.
Another step you can take to decrease electricity consumption is switching out your light bulbs for LED — preferably ENERGY STAR-certified — bulbs. ENERGY STAR-certified bulbs meet the strict requirements of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. They are designed to use less energy and emit less heat, meaning they are perfect for sustainability-minded consumers.
Eliminating Water Waste
The final general consideration to keep in mind is to limit water waste. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
, each American uses an average of 88 gallons of water a day, and the average family wastes 180 gallons a week. Given that a high amount of energy is used to heat the water we use, this also can impact electricity consumption. Some tips include:
- Installing energy- and water-efficient appliances;
- Performing regular maintenance on your plumbing, including regular checks for any leaky pipes or faucets;
- Take shorter showers in order to limit your household’s water waste.
Fall and Winter Energy-Saving Tips
In the fall, lowering temperatures bring about new energy conservation concerns. By the time winter rolls around, it’s essential to have measures in place to reduce energy costs. After all, when it comes to your utility bills, winter is the most expensive time of the year — and energy costs have been rising in recent years.
What can you do to save some energy during this time of the year? Here are some great winter energy-saving tips:
- Maintaining your heating system: Before the colder months even begin, you should inspect your furnace and clean or replace its filters. When doing this, keep an eye out for signs of rust, corrosion, or any other red flags. If you are unfamiliar with the basics of calibrating a thermostat, cleaning electrical connections, or safely testing the system, you should consider hiring an HVAC technician.
- Getting your windows ready for winter: As noted above, proper insulation is essential to keep cold air out of your home. You should cover any leaks with weather sealing. You may also want to invest in cellular shades or panes with low-E coating , which can improve insulation without blocking too much light.
- Preparing and updating your fireplace: Now’s the time of year when you’ll want to put your fireplace to good use. Sweep the chimney of any debris, then inspect and clean each component of the fireplace. If you want to make using your fireplace easy and energy-efficient, consider investing in an electric fireplace insert . These provide comfort without nearly as much hassle as a traditional setup.
- Maintaining your water heater: Before temperatures get too low, you’ll want to check the temperature and pressure relief valve on your water heater. Additionally, you should pull the anode rod out of the tank to determine if it should be replaced. After flushing and insulating the tank, your heater should be set for the cold months ahead. You may also want to take this time to adjust your water heater temperature. While many manufacturers set thermostats to 140ºF by default, the U.S. Department of Energy suggests setting it to 120ºF to save on energy costs.
- Updating your holiday lighting: Above, we recommend switching your lights to LED bulbs to save energy. The same logic applies to holiday lighting. You can easily find affordable, efficient holiday lighting, so why not update them this season?
Spring and Summer Energy-Saving Tips
There are also many ways to conserve energy during the warmer months. While it may seem difficult to keep your home cool while reducing energy use, there are some proven strategies for doing so. Energy-saving tips for the summer include:
- Maintaining your air conditioner: There are some important air conditioning tips to save energy, particularly when it comes to maintenance. Keep in mind that you need to check and replace your air filters as needed every month. In addition, you should clean the air ducts, inspecting the ductwork for any damage or leaks during this process. You should also go outside to clean the compressor and condenser coils. Consider hiring a professional to take a look at your system before summer strikes.
- Updating your windows to beat the heat: As with the colder months, you will want to update your windows to match the needs of the season. Blackout curtains or reflective window films can keep light out of and reflect heat away from your home, respectively.
- Practicing moderation with your thermostat: Be modest with your thermostat. Supplement your cooling needs with ceiling fans and standing fans in order to avoid energy waste. When you are away from home, it’s smart to set your thermostat to 78ºF to keep your home cool without letting your energy bills skyrocket.
- Cook outside regularly: Your stove can generate a lot of heat, and keeping your home at a comfortable temperature can incur some high energy costs. Turn to your barbecue during the spring and summer to keep the heat outdoors.