There are a lot of things you can do at home to save energy (and money – woohoo!), but sometimes it’s a matter of finding time to implement them. Whether you’re looking to replace the windows in your home to be more energy efficient or change the type of bulbs you use, these small steps can make a difference when it comes to living efficiently.
Sometimes we do things out of habit – like leave lights on in rooms that we’re no longer occupying, or leave computer monitors on when we step away (my husband drives me crazy doing that). Here are my top easy-to-implement tips for making your home more energy-efficient:
1. Install a programmable or smart thermostat.
Programmable thermostats can be set to different temperatures on different times and days. Smart thermostats offer you the added convenience of programming away from home. If you’re big into the trend of ‘smart’ homes, your thermostat should be a major part of this. I program our thermostat to 18 degrees Celsius when we’re home (though most people prefer 19-21 degrees Celsius), and 15-16 degrees Celsius when we’re out or sleeping.
2. Go for LED light bulbs.
They are much more energy-efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs, and not mercury toxic like CFLs. Yes, LEDs are pricier than other bulbs up front – but they offer a lot more energy and money savings long-term. Don’t feel like you have to go and replace all of your lightbulbs all at once. I bought a few LEDs to have on hand so that when a bulb burns out, I replace that one with a new LED. Over the course of several years, I will have gradually switched over to LEDs, and I won’t really have noticed the higher up-front cost.
3. Replace the showerhead in your bathroom(s) with low flow showerheads.
These showerheads regulate the flow of water, giving you a more efficient shower without noticing much of a difference. I’m a fan of handheld showerheads because they also make cleaning your shower a lot easier.
4. Unplug energy sucking devices when they are not in use.
Or plug them into a programmable power strip that shuts them off. Common energy wasters include your computer, printer, DVD player, TV and phone charger. Any electronic devices that have little lights (even when turned off) are sucking energy. Unplug these electronics at night or when you are away from home, or program your power strip to shut them off when you don’t use them. I have our central TV, DVD player, and laptop plugged into a programmable power strip that automatically turns off at night, then turns on in the morning.
5. Do your laundry in cold water, and hang to dry instead of running the dryer.
Cold water can save you up to 90% of the energy used to wash clothes, according to the David Suzuki Foundation. They state that “an electric clothes-dryer can generate more than 6 pounds of greenhouse gases with every load. It can save the average household about $100 per year in energy costs.” There are lots of inexpensive clothes drying racks out there, and it’s easy to maximize your laundry space to include areas for hanging laundry. (And don’t forget to choose a chemical-free detergent, and skip the conventional chemical-laden dryer sheets – check my greening your laundry post for more on this!)
6. Turn down the temperature on your water heater.
According to the David Suzuki Foundation, every 5.5 degrees Celsius reduction can give you up to 13% in energy savings.