Energy use in your household can be challenging to monitor because it’s a resource you can’t see. Every day, your home sucks up immense amounts of energy through appliances, lighting, and climate control. Your household’s energy usage is dictated by two things: how often you use it and how much energy you use each time. By making a few simple changes this new year, you can make your home more energy-efficient and save on your energy bills.
1. Unplug Appliances
A simple but effective way to reduce your home’s energy consumption is to unplug appliances when you’re not using them. Some countries like Australia provide energy-off switches that you can flip instead of unplugging devices, but American switches typically can’t be switched off that way.
Devices that suck energy even when they’re not being used are known as energy vampires. Popular culprits involve phone cords, computers, and other devices with display screens. Try unplugging these devices when not in use for a month, and then check to see how that affects your energy bill.
2. Air-Dry Clothes
Dryers use a lot of energy to run – approximately 3000 watts per hour. While it’s convenient to dry your clothes quickly, running the dryer every day can easily cost you over $100 in energy costs each year.
An easy solution is to start air-drying your clothes. Use a clothing rack or hang clothing outside to reduce the amount of excess moisture in your home. Some families use wool drying balls to speed up their dryer, or run their dryer for ten minutes to de-wrinkle clothes before hanging them to air-dry.
3. Plug Leaks
Air leaks can significantly reduce your home’s energy efficiency. To reduce your electric bill, winterize your home by filling gaps around windows and doors with weatherstripping. Some homeowners also insulate their windows with a second pane of glass or a layer of bubble wrap.
If your attic isn’t insulated properly, you could be losing warm air through your roof. Adding insulation to older water heaters and plumbing can lower your electric bill while also protecting your pipes from freezing during cold weather.
4. UseNatural Light
Light bulbs also suck the energy out of your home, accounting for around 15% of the average American home’s electricity use. To save energy, switch to lightbulbs that use fewer watts per hour and try solar light bulbs outside. By using newer technology, you can light your home for a lot less.
To save even more energy, you can rely on natural light instead of electric bulbs. Open your windows and consider installing skylights or sun tunnels so that you get more sunlight inside your home. Earlier bedtimes can also help you save energy.
5. Buy Efficient Appliances
It doesn’t usually make financial sense to replace your appliances until you need to, but energy-efficient appliances will automatically save you energy once installed. If you’re in the market for new appliances, look for energy-efficient models marked with an energy star.
Installing a smart thermostat is another excellent way to reduce your energy use. By programming this technology on your phone, you can optimize and save energy through the night without another thought. By turning your thermostat down 7-10 degrees overnight, you can reduce your heating and cooling costs by up to 10%.
6. Get an Energy Audit
After making your own adjustments to save energy, consider contacting a professional auditor to look over your home. A home energy audit can help you reduce your energy use even more by identifying ways your appliances and home may be losing energy unnecessarily.
Energy audits do take an initial investment, averaging between $100 and $1,650 depending on the size of your home. However, homeowners can reduce their energy bills by up to 30% after an audit. This means that over the long term, energy audits save valuable resources.
Make It a Game
New Year’s resolutions can often feel overwhelming, which means they’re often abandoned after a few months. To keep your energy-saving motivation going, make it a game to see how much you can reduce your energy bill each month.
These numbers will hold you accountable and show you the impact of your efforts. Start with these six suggestions and then get creative to see how much you can improve your home’s energy efficiency this year.
Jane is the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co and an environmental writer covering green technology, sustainability and environmental news.