Top 10 Simple Energy Saving Tips
It is easy to get overwhelmed by all of the options for green home renovations,
especially the larger, more expensive ones. For a simpler approach to greening
your home, improving your health, and saving energy and money, consider the
following recommendations for quick, inexpensive retrofits that you can do
To find out more ways you can improve your home's energy-efficiency, consider
having a home energy audit conducted by a certified professional. To find
qualified raters in your area, visit
Energy Star's New Home Partner Locator
and click on your state.
Replace your incandescent bulbs with CFLs.
CFLs use about
75% less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and can last up to ten times as
long. By replacing the five most commonly used bulbs in your home, you can save
about $70 every year on energy costs. The more you replace, the more you save.
For more information, visit our green topic page on
fluorescent light bulbs.
Unplug appliances, chargers, and electronics you are not using.
(also called phantom energy) is the energy used by electronics that are turned
off. This can account for as much as 10% of your home energy use. To help
combat these unused power drains,
clear as much as possible.
where you have several electronics that are commonly used, consider plugging
them into a power strip and turning the strip off when they are not in use.
This will prevent the energy drain that would occur if they were plugged
directly into the wall.
To help avoid
tangled cords (especially when unplugged), consider purchasing a charging
station or labeling the ends of the cords using tape or small labels with
the name of the electronic it powers. This will make it easier to identify
what you're plugging in without having to retrace cords.
electronics when they are fully charged.
Berkley's National Laboratory claims that aggressive measures taken to combat
vampire power can reduce the amount of standby electricity utilized in your home
by about 30% (http://standby.lbl.gov/cutting.html). For more information, visit
Install a programmable thermostat.
thermostats are a great way to lower your energy bills by offering you
pre-determined control over your homes heating and cooling schedule. Not only
does this save on energy by altering temperature to energy-saving settings while
you are away or sleeping, it does it automatically according to your set
guidelines allowing you to save energy without even thinking about it. Many
models come with a filter sensor that tells you when to change your HVAC filters
to further maximize energy efficiency. For more information on programmable
thermostats, visit our
green topic page.
Save water - Put aerators on faucets and install a low-flow
to your faucet to decrease the water flow while maintaining high pressures.
Since faucets make up around 15% of a typical home's indoor water use,
decreasing the water flow on every faucet in your home can easily help save a
significant amount of water. Low-flow showerheads essentially work the same
way, minimizing the amount of water you use while running the shower. Look for
hardware with the EPA's
label for products that are at least 20% more efficient than standard models.
For more information on water savings,
According to the
National Recycling Coalition, the average American discards 7.5 lbs. of garbage
every day! Recycling not only helps minimize this amount of waste being put
into landfills, it helps minimize the use of natural resources and saves energy
in manufacturing new products. And the best part is, it's easy! Put up bins in
your garage or laundry room (if you have kids, let them decorate them) and sort
your cardboard, paper, aluminum, glass, steel, etc. Once every couple of weeks,
make a trip to your
and deposit your recyclables. For more information on the effects of recycling,
check out http://www.nrc-recycle.org/theconversionator/shell.html.
Use eco-friendly cleaners.
In 2007, the
American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine reported that 15% of
all asthma cases were caused by exposure to unsafe cleaning products. To avoid
this and other negative effects, look for cleaners with the EPA Design for the
Environment (DfE) label or the Green Seal. These products are held to rigorous
standards ensuring the the safest ingredient in each class (bleach, sterilizer,
etc.) is used. For a complete list of DfE products,
For a list of certified Green Seal products,
Fill air leaks with caulking or weather stripping.
your windows and doors can be a major energy drain on your home as they decrease
the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by allowing air to escape. To
avoid this problem, apply caulk or weather stripping around windows and doors or
other spaces where air may be leaking through. To find these spots, consider
having a home energy audit done on your home by a certified auditor. For more
information, visit the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Savings page on
or check out our green topic page on
Plant a tree to shade your home.
Planting a six to
eight foot deciduous tree with high spreading crowns on the south side of your
home can help increase the efficiency of your air conditioner by up to 10%
Because of evapotranspiration (the process by which a plant moves and releases
water vapor into the air), areas surrounding shade trees typically see a 9
degree temperature reduction, with a 25 degree reduction in the direct shade of
the tree. This can obviously yield tremendous energy savings by helping keep
your home cool without the extensive use of fans or A/C. For best results,
plant a tree to the south of your home for maximum summer shading. (If you have
a solar system on your roof, do not plant directly to the south as the tree may
block direct sunlight from reaching the solar panels.) For more information,
visit our green topic page on
shade trees and
Insulate your hot water heater and furnace.
By putting a
"blanket" of insulation around your hot water heater and furnace, you can reduce
heat loss by 25-45%, reducing your energy bill by 4-9% (http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=13080).
Some blankets come pre-cut and ready to wrap around your heater while others
require cutting and forming to fit your specific model. These blankets are
available at many home improvement stores or
Replace your HVAC filters.
Energy Star recommends
that you check your filters every month for excess debris that can restrict air
flow and cause dust and dirt to enter your ventilation system and decrease your
home's indoor air quality. Filters should be replaced at least every three
months or whenever they look dirty to avoid negative health effects and increase
your HVAC's efficiency. For more information on how to maximize HVAC
efficiency, check out Energy Star's
Guide to Energy-Efficient Heating and Cooling.
Other Energy Saving Tips:
Move heat-generating appliances and electronics away from your thermostat.
Turn down your water heater 10-20 degrees.
Turn off lights and fans when you leave the room.
Close doors and windows when heating or cooling your home.
Use your drapes to control heat gain and loss.
Wash full loads in of dishes and laundry.
Paint your walls
light or bright colors. Light colors reflect light instead of
absorbing it like dark colors, reducing the amount of energy needed to light
Videos on This Topic:
CNN - Going Green for Under $20 - April 23, 2009
(1:51) - EcoBroker
Marion Webb explains a few simple green home renovations at a 2009 Earth Day