We’re still stretching out the last fun days of summer, but cold weather around the corner can only mean one thing. It’s time to figure out how to conserve energy before the seasons start to change.
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Why energy conservation matters now more than ever
Caring about the environment is something we start teaching our kids at a young age, and for good reason. Environmental consciousness promotes social awareness and good global citizenship. In 2016, Oregon State University researchers also discovered that kids who learn to conserve energy may influence their parents. When California Girl Scouts troops in the study participated in an intervention program, both the girls and their parents started conserving more energy at home. This included behaviors like turning off power strips at night and washing clothes in cold water that lasted for more than seven months after the program ended.
With energy conservation, a little goes a long way. As we saw in the study, learning a few tricks could make a big difference in helping you and your family to cultivate more efficient habits at home.
Yes, the time is right to figure out effective ways to start conserving energy around the house. Depressing as this may be, the U.S. was declared the worldwide leader in wasted energy in 2013. These numbers only continue to go up. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimated that residential energy consumption by sector rose from 14,881 trillion BTU in 2012 to 15,452 trillion BTU in 2016. As of 2013, our energy efficiency was estimated at 42 percent, meaning that 58 percent of all the energy we produced was wasted.
The biggest energy-waster across all industries? You might have guessed that it was heat waste, because of inefficient technologies. The good news is that heat loss is one of the easiest inefficiencies to manage at home, as you’ll see outlined in our tips below. Figuring out how conserve energy spent on heating your home can benefit your bank account and the environment at the same time.
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10 ways to make your home more energy-efficient inside and out
All it takes to go green around the house is a little common sense.
Start with our top five eco-friendly, energy-conserving, money-saving tips that can also improve the curb appeal of your home:
1. Upgrade window trimmings.
Patterned insulated window shades can give your home’s exterior a facelift while reducing cold air drafts, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Ana Zuravliova, interiors expert at VerticalBlindsDirect.co in the UK, says, “When it comes to windows, you can lose around 40 percent of your home’s warmth, and if you crank up the thermostat to compensate, you may find yourself with a weighty bill! Fitting blinds in your windows can make them much more energy efficient by adding an extra layer of insulation between the cozy warmth of your house and the cold of the glass — keeping you from turning up the dial.”
2. Open curtains on south-facing windows.
Another helpful hint: Let in the sun’s heat to warm your house during the day. This can also make your home look more inviting. Zuravliova says, “Obviously, at night these should be kept shut, but during the day when sunlight enters, they definitely should be open, to allow sunlight to enter your room and naturally warm up the home.”
3. Plant evergreens.
Adding more greenery to the exterior can help windbreak your home to reduce heating costs. The DOE says that planting dense evergreen trees and shrubs on the north and northwest of a house is the most common type of windbreak.
4. Repurpose old newspapers.
Instead of piling them at the curb, the EPA suggests rolling newspapers into paper logs for the fireplace. For the best results, roll newspaper sheets around a broom to the desired log size, soak thoroughly in water, dry overnight, and use the newspaper log as regular wood.
5. Turn off outdoor security lights in the morning.
Better yet, sync them with the sun on timers. We love the Easy Bulb smart light that you can control from your smartphone or tablet. These energy-efficient lights last up to 25 years.
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Then move on to our top five ways to save money and benefit the environment by conserving energy inside your home:
1. Lower your water heater temperature.
You may not know that your water heater is set too high, until you check it out. Henry Parker, home builder and editor-in-chief of HomeReference.net, says setting a water heater at 120°F is more than adequate. “Because water heating is so energy intensive, this simple measure brings relatively significant results. Similarly, wrap the water heater tank in insulating material if it isn’t already.”
2. Change your air filters.
Not only is this fall-friendly tip going to cut down on seasonal allergies, but it’s a major money-saver and energy-conserver, according to Tyler Dishman, President of DiscountFilters.com. “The fall (and spring) are great times to change the filter because that is usually the first time a homeowner turns on their furnace (fall) or air conditioner (spring),” Dishman says. “When your filter gets clogged, the airflow in your ductwork is slightly restricted, and your furnace ends up running longer (and harder) than it needs to in order to raise the temperature in your house. A clean filter takes out the contaminants without restricting air flow, which allows the furnace to run less often.”
3. Upgrade your insulation.
Many older homes are not insulated enough, says Parker. “There are a variety of options depending on the area of the house, but crawlspaces, basements, and attics are good places to start.”
4. Wear wool socks around the house.
This one’s cozy — and easy. “You lose an incredible amount of heat through your feet. Keep them warm with wool socks, not a higher thermostat!” Brian Davis, real estate investor and co-founder of SparkRental.com, says.
5. Wash your clothes cold.
As Davis and the Oregon State study point out, it’s those small energy conservation habits that can make the biggest difference over time. Davis recommends washing clothes cold instead of hot. Clothes won’t shrink, and you’ll save a lot of energy by not having to heat the water.
With all the money you’ll be saving on household energy, it only makes sense to find out how much you can save on your mortgage. Give us a call, send us an email, or stop by one of our offices. We can help.
For educational purposes only. Please contact your qualified professional for specific guidance.
Sources are deemed reliable but not guaranteed.