Nothing packs a better double punch to saving both money and the environment than lowering your home energy use. We have plenty of quick fixes that are not only simple, but cost effective. Read on for five tips designed to help you use less energy at home.
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1. Get smart
Equipping your place with smart home technology may sound expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Start by buying a smart thermostat, which can help regulate the temperature even when you’re not home. Many of these, like the Nest thermostat, can learn your heating habits and preferences, and self-adjust accordingly.
This means no energy will be wasted heating or cooling your house when you’re not there. Perhaps the best perk of these systems is that they’re internet-connected and can be controlled with a smartphone even when you’re not at home. Long gone are the days of paying for huge bills after forgetting to turn off the air conditioner before work.
In fact, installing a programmable thermostat can save you about $150 in energy costs each year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
2. Be mindful of curtains and blinds
If you leave your blinds open on a hot summer day, the indoor temperature is likely to skyrocket. Stay cool by leaving the blinds or curtains closed during daylight hours. In the winter, you may want to leave your blinds open during the day to let in some of the sun’s warmth.
If you’re looking to take things a step further, consider buying thermal curtains. Now that these have become more common, you’ll find a number of stylish and affordable options at many home stores and online.
3. Swap your bulbs
If you’re still using dated, traditional incandescent bulbs, it’s time to make a swap. Energy-efficient bulbs are an absolute must in 2018. After all, you’ll pay less for the same amount of light.
When buying new bulbs, first look for the ENERGY STAR label, which means the bulbs meet energy efficiency requirements set by the EPA. Common options you’ll see include compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), light-emitting diodes (LEDs), and halogen incandescents. Even though these bulbs are more expensive at the register, they use less energy and will save you money in the long run.
Beyond light bulbs, dimmer switches are another great option for your home, allowing you to use just the right amount of light. Keep in mind that lighting accounts for about 10% of a home’s energy costs, so swapping out your bulbs can make a huge difference when it comes time to pay the bills.
4. Unplug, unplug, unplug
Unplug electronics when they’re fully charged or not in use. Better yet, plug your electronics into a power strip and flip the switch off when power isn’t necessary.
A mindless action as simple and common as leaving your computer on all day when not in use can cost you up to $100 each year, and we can think of far better uses for that money—dinner, vacation, the list goes on.
If you have trouble remembering to power down, post a sticky note near the door that reminds you to unplug as you leave the room. It’s simple—be smart about your plugs.
5. Plant a tree
Never underestimate the energy-saving power of some greenery. In warmer climates, the natural shade of a tree planted near a window can keep your home cool.
Trees that shade an air conditioning unit are also helpful in keeping the unit cool and reducing overall energy costs. As an added perk, a little landscaping is a great embellishment for your yard.