The weather is cooling down and many people may start to worry about their heating bills this winter. While you should definitely be concerned, its time to take action! Do-it yourself energy savings are generally easy and inexpensive, but the money you can save will really add up.
The following are our top 20 tips for green home improvement. The majority of the items following can be accomplished in a weekend, and for less than $100. Brush off your step ladder and take a trip to the hardware store. Perhaps its time to call that cute handyman to pay you a visit?
1. Replace furnace filters. You’ll improve efficiency and also have a lot less dust around your home.
2. Adjust your hot water heater to 120 degrees F or less. Avoid burns and getting burned by your electricity bill.
3. Install glass doors on an open fireplace. Reduce drafty chills from sneaking into your living room.
4. Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact florescent bulbs or LEDs. Did you know that 90% of the energy used by traditional light bulbs is lost as heat? When you replace them, you not only save a lot on your electric bills, but it also helps keep rooms cooler during hot days and evenings.
5. Choose paints with low VOCs – less than 150 grams per liter.
6. Plant a tree (or two) on the west side of your home. This will provide shade and insulation, shielding your home from the elements.
7. Make sure you don’t have leaky faucets, shower heads or toilets. Small drips can add up to a significantly higher water bill.
8. Caulk and seal around doors and windows. Drafts create a chill in the air and a terrible dread when you open up your utility statement!
9. Replace worn weatherstripping around windows and doors. See above! Surprisingly, some small cracks and holes have the effect of leaving 3 windows in your home open all day!
10. When you purchase new appliances, make sure they are Energy Star-rated. You may be eligible for rebates, on top of the savings you’ll enjoy each month.
11. Turn off the drying cycle on your dishwasher. Prop open and allow the dishes to air dry.
12. Wait until you have a full load – dishwasher or washing machine – before running the appliance.
13. Use power strips to turn off items you keep plugged in, from computers to chargers. Unplug everything else. Even when the item is not on, its still drawing “juice.”
14. Consider converting to low-flow faucets and shower heads. New models do more than just “spit” water, and you can save 2 gallons per minute!
15. Compost your food waste and add to your planting beds to help reduce moisture loss and improve soil structure.
We’re getting toward the end of the list. This may take some extra effort, and maybe even investment, but I promise its worth it!
16. Check insulation levels and add, if necessary, to reach at least R-38.
17. Install ceiling fans in bedrooms and your living room. You can use the rotation to push warm air down, or pull cool air up, depending on the season.
18. Consider hiring an energy professional to test your home for leaks. Energy tax credits should cover most of the cost, and you’ll get a tighter, less drafty home.
19. Install heat-reflecting film on west-facing windows. This will cut down on furniture and rug-fading, while allowing your thermostat a bit of a rest.
20. Call a professional to conduct a heating system check-up. There may be revisions you can make to save big-time on your annual heating bill.
These are our 20 tips for do-it-yourself energy savings. If you have other practices that have worked for you, we want to know! Don’t be shy – share!