Thursday, March 10, 2016

8 Ways to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient for Under $100

I'm happy to welcome back guest blogger AJ Early, who is offering some great tips on creating an energy efficient home. Click here to read her post on sustainable remodeling.

8 Ways to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient 
for Under $100

There are countless benefits to making your home more energy efficient. The first, of course, is the money you'll save. It's equally important to lessen your impact on the environment through responsible energy consumption. There are also monetary benefits aside from lower power bills. An energy efficient home can help you reap benefits like green tax credits and can even give you access to special types of loans, like energy efficient mortgages.

Consuming less energy in your everyday life does not have to be difficult or expensive. Here are some ways to reduce your usage, sorted from cheapest to most expensive. Even taking one small step can make a huge difference, and I'm willing to bet there's at least one thing on this list that is feasible for you.

Image courtesy of Peter Griffin

1. Free: Unplug your electronics when they're not in use. This sounds tedious, but unplugging things like device chargers and televisions when they're not being used can help your home cycle energy more efficiently. Plus, you'll save money!

2. Free: There are a whole bunch of ways to save energy when cooking. Only preheat your oven for five minutes, and leave the door cracked when you're done to help heat the house during winter. Glass and ceramic are much more efficient materials for baking, and a toaster oven is always more efficient, if it fits. When cooking on the stovetop, use a heating coil that is about one inch smaller than your pot and use a lid to trap heat in.

3. Free: Take the screens off your windows during the winter. This will only be a short time investment twice a year, but will help more sunlight penetrate your windows during the cold winter months. Doing this can actually raise the temperature in your home by a few degrees on sunny days.

Image courtesy of Shari Weinsheimer

4. Free: Ease into a comfortably warm winter and still reduce your heating bill by following these recommended thermostat settings: Find whatever temperature is ideal for your family and start there. Stay there until you're used to the colder weather, then reduce the thermostat by one degree each week. You won't notice such a gradual change, but you will notice a much lower power bill.

5. Free: Dust and vacuum the coil and fan behind your refrigerator every few months. Dusty build-up can disrupt air flow and slow down the moving parts of your fan, which results in higher energy consumption. The only cost is the electricity used to run the vacuum for a few minutes.

6. $5 - $20: Change your air filter. Depending on where you live, your HVAC system runs most of the year to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home. Keeping the air filter clean and fresh is an important part of ensuring that your heating and cooling systems run efficiently.

According to, you should replace your air filter every month, especially during heavy usage.

7. $10 - $50: Adding weatherstripping (a sticky-backed foam tape that is easy to apply) to your windows and doors can make a huge difference, especially if your home is older. In a newer home, windows won't need any help, but you can still benefit from sealing your door frame and the area underneath your door. Weather stripping can be found for as little as $1.50 a yard, which makes it one of the most cost-efficient ways to optimize your home's energy consumption.

Image courtesy of Summer Woods

8. $15 - $50: Seal your switchplates, electrical outlets, escutcheon plates, and anywhere pipes or vents enter your home. For the outlets and switchplates, you can find inexpensive foam sealers at the hardware store and secure them to the wall with a little caulk. They fit right under your existing outlet covers and keep cold air from leaking in. Take it even farther by using baby-proof plastic plugs in the outlets you're not using. You can seal your excutcheon plates (the round covering where a pipe comes out of the wall) quickly with some caulk. Spray foam is also very cheap and can be used to seal any area where pipes or vents enter or exit your home. Sealing all these little areas of your home will drastically reduce your energy usage. The following simple infographic can help you identify areas in your home that could use some help.

Courtesy of American Chemistry Council, Inc.

Click here for 2 more great tips on saving energy and money in your home.

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