Most experts would agree that the most successful strategy for improving household energy efficiency is to focus on the cover of your home first. This means the walls, attic, windows, and doors. You can then turn your attention to the energy efficiency of systems, such as heating, cooling, lighting, and appliances. The last step would be to consider clean energy generation (solar, geothermal, and so on). You will save money and improve performance when you take cost-effective measures that reduce energy waste.
Below you will find a list of six ways in which you can increase your home’s energy efficiency. (Source: greenhomeguide.com).
- Replace or Upgrade Old Windows: If your windows are old and leaky, it may be time to replace them with energy-efficient models or boost their efficiency with weather stripping and storm windows. It is almost never cost-effective to replace windows just to save energy. However, if you are replacing windows for other reasons anyway, in many areas the additional cost of replacement windows is very modest.
- Swap Old Light Bulbs with CFL’s: Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL’s) can save three-quarters of the electricity used by incandescents. Most people don’t think about the fact that the electricity to run a light bulb costs much more than the bulb itself. The lighting cost of the CFL is less than one-third of the cost for the incandescent. The best targets for replacement are 60-to-100-watt bulbs used several hours a day, because usage affects how long it takes to recover the investment.
- Make Sure Your Walls and Attic are Properly Insulated: Effective insulation slows the rate that heat flows out of the house in winter or into the house in summer, so less energy is required to heat or cool the house. If your house has no wall insulation, and it has more-or-less continuous wall cavities (such as conventional stud walls), blown-in insulation can greatly improve your comfort and save enough energy to be very cost-effective.
- Plant Trees and Bushes Outside Your Home: If your house is older, with relatively poor insulation and windows, good landscaping (particularly deciduous trees) can save energy, especially if planted on the house’s west side. In summer, the foliage blocks infrared radiation that would warm the house, while in winter the bare branches let this radiation come through. Of course, if your house has very good insulation and windows, the effect is much, much smaller because the building shell itself is already blocking almost all the heat gain.
- Increase the Efficiency of Your Hot Water System: First, turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F). Second, insulate your hot water lines so they don’t cool off as quickly between uses. Third, use low-flow fixtures for showers and baths. While storage water heater standards were raised in 2001, it was probably not enough to justify throwing out an existing water heater that is working well.
- Replace Your Old Furnace with a High-Efficiency System: If your furnace was built before 1992 and has a standing pilot, it probably wastes 35 percent of the fuel it uses, and it is probably near the end of its service life. In this case, in all but the warmest climates, early replacement with a condensing furnace with annual efficiency of at least 90 percent is recommended.
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