We all need to do our best to reduce our carbon footprint and increase our efficiency as best we can. With climate change a very real threat, and global warming becoming a bigger problem all the time, it has become a duty and a responsibility for all of us to become more energy efficient. Doing so means we aren’t only doing our bit for the planet, but also living more cost-effective lives, day-to-day. And while the world’s problems (and your energy bills) can seem like overwhelming mountains to climb, it’d do well to remember that change begins at home. Millions of homes are literally leaking energy – and many of the solutions are quick and inexpensive fixes. Here’s how to start saving more energy at home, today.
One of the biggest culprits in energy wastage is the use of traditional incandescent light bulbs which consume an excessive amount of electricity and need replacing regularly. In contrast, energy-saving bulbs such as compact fluorescent or LED ones will reduce the amount of energy you use on lighting by up to 75 percent.
It’s easy to forget that aside from gas and electricity, a major factor in our homes being inefficient is the overuse of water. For many of us, this occurs in the garden – it’s no coincidence that there is a rise of water restrictions and hosepipe bans in the summer. You can get around this and still maintain a nice lawn by limiting your water use, in the morning or evening so that the water doesn’t evaporate. There are also ways to prep your garden for drier weather so that you don’t need to use so much water on it. Conserve water by collecting rainwater in a water butt, or even using dish and bath water left over. Inside, try to monitor how much water you use to shower or bathe. Don’t leave taps running while you brush your teeth or shave. Little changes make a big difference in the end!
Many of our homes are drafty, and given the amount of energy expended to keep the place warm to start with, draft proofing is a real no brainer. Get your home properly sealed, to keep the cold out and the warm in! Install weatherproofing on doors and windows. Older windows may need to be repaired or even replaced – if you don’t want to take this step then thicker curtains may be in order. Likewise, a thick carpet or rugs on the floor helps keep heat from escaping underfoot. Remember that much of a house’s heat escapes through the attic so make sure it is well insulated. Block any holes in the building with a foam product, and fix it well.
This goes hand in hand with draft proofing but is worth looking at a bit more closely, as it is an area that can really cut down energy bills and help keep your household as carbon neutral as possible. Check the thickness of the insulation material all around the crucial areas, ensuring that there is at least twelve inches, especially in the basement or the attic.
Another way we burn through energy in our homes is through overusing the heating. By installing (or paying a professional to install) a smart thermostat you can automate every aspect of your heating (or cooling) system. What time, what temperature, for how long? Some models even tell you when to replace air filters or HVAC system problems, which also improve the efficiency of your heating and saves you a sizeable amount per year.
Lower the temperature on your water heater
Older style water heaters use a lot of energy to do their job. An old, inefficient heater can account for an extremely high percentage of your overall energy usage. If you don’t want to replace and upgrade then simply reduce the temperature. Don’t go below 120 degrees Fahrenheit though, as this could allow dangerous pathogens to thrive. Another simple way to increase the efficiency of an old-style heater is to actually insulate it with an old blanket or duvet. You’ll save money whether you use gas or electricity – the amount expended to heat a water tank can be enormous in either case.
Energy conscious habits may seem like small gestures, but they all add up to making your home more efficient. Boil just the water you need for a cup of tea, rather than a full kettle. Use a smaller cooking device to make small meals – a microwave is an extremely energy-efficient way to heat food. Take shorter showers and shallower baths.
You really don’t need to make huge sacrifices to your life to make your home more energy-efficient. And should you feel like you are, simply think of your shrinking carbon footprint or annual energy bill, and I’m sure the sacrifice won’t seem so great.