Improving the energy efficiency of your home is not only great for the environment, but can also contribute to substantial savings in the long run. Here are some small changes you can make throughout your home to help lower your energy bills:
* Turn off the thermostat
When away from home, avoid keeping your thermostat on. When home, adjust it in small increments to reach your desired temperature. Even better, open windows and use ceiling fans or space heaters to cool or warm your home.
* Switch your light bulbs
Switch the lightbulbs in your home to more energy efficient ones (think CFL and LED bulbs). Not sure which ones to choose? Check out our helpful light bulb guide here.
* Clean and replace filters once a month
Clean filters allow systems to run more efficiently and for shorter periods of time.
* Keep a full refrigerator and freezer
A full refrigerator unit will operate the most properly and efficiently. On the other hand, be sure not to overcrowd it.
* Keep your oven and stovetop clean
Regularly cleaning your oven and stovetop will enable them to run more efficiently.
* Run your dishwasher when it’s full
Running your dishwasher for a full load every time is the most efficient use of the appliance. In addition, use the lowest temperature dry cycle if you prefer not to air-dry your dishes. Heated drying is not always needed and can even damage plasticware.
* Use power strips/surge protectors
Cords that remain plugged in while not in use still expend energy in standby mode. Feeding them all into a power strip makes it easier to switch them all off at once instead of keeping them on standby. In addition, it also protects your electronic devices from unsafe voltage spikes.
* Turn off lights
When leaving your home, turn off all lights. When at home, turn off lights in any room not being used.
* Mind the gaps
Check windows and doors for cracks, gaps, and openings. Replace broken glass, framing and caulk where necessary.
* Purchase wisely
When purchasing appliances such as computers and dishwashers, be on the lookout for the “Energy Star” logo denoting high-efficiency. Many newer appliances are required by the U.S. Department of Energy to be more efficient than older ones.
With so many types of light bulbs available, it can be overwhelming to select the right ones. Read this guide to determine what you need for your fixture, space, and budget.
Factors to Think About
*Wattage (energy used)
*Appearance (warm vs. cool)
*Estimated yearly cost
When shopping for light bulbs, take a look at the Lighting Facts label on the packaging in order to compare different bulbs. The label looks similar to a Nutrition Facts label:
Lumens represent the amount of light emitted from a lightbulb. The more lumens, the brighter the light. When purchasing light bulbs, start by comparing how bright of a bulb you want before factoring in other characteristics, as lumens are the same across the board. The number of lumens needed to light a room depends on the size, color of the walls, and how much light you prefer.
Watts are the amount of energy a light bulb uses. The higher the watts, the higher the electric bill. (CFLs and LEDs have a lower wattage than incandescent.) When purchasing bulbs, follow instructions provided by the lighting fixture about the maximum wattage. A bulb with too high of a wattage can create a fire hazard due to the production of excess heat. It can also damage the light fixture.
Today, light bulb packaging shows the number of lumens. If you’re used to looking at wattage to figure out how much light you need in a room, check out this helpful chart below.
Types of Light Bulbs
Incandescent bulbs are the traditional bulb type, but today, standard 60- and 40-watt bulbs are no longer produced or sold. This has been the case since 2007, when Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act, which requires incandescent light bulbs to be 25 percent more efficient.
Halogen bulbs are perhaps the closest alternative to incandescent bulbs, but with a longer lifespan. While more energy-efficient than incandescent, they are still not as efficient as CFL or LED bulbs. These inexpensive bulbs produce a crisp, bright light, and do not fade with age. They operate at high temperatures, which can cause burns if touched, but they do not contain any mercury. Halogen bulbs are commonly used as task lighting — think spotlight or flood light bulbs.
Compact Fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) emit a similar light output in the same color range as incandescent bulbs, but consume significantly less energy. CFL bulbs can be used anywhere a typical incandescent bulb would go, including both indoors and outdoors. These bulbs may take a few minutes to reach their maximum output.
*CFL bulbs do contain a small amount of mercury, and care should be taken to prevent breakage, as well as to dispose properly.
Fluorescent lights need a controlling ballast to operate, but new ballasts eliminate the buzz and flickering often associated with fluorescent lights. In addition, fluorescent lights are now available in a wider variety of colors and sizes. Fluorescent lights are energy-efficient, but like CFL bulbs, require a warm-up time and proper disposal. They also produce a small amount of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which some people may be sensitive to.
Light Emitting Diode bulbs (LEDs) are just as energy-efficient as CFLs, but with a longer lifespan. In general, LED bulbs are pricier than other options, but are becoming more affordable as they grow in popularity. LEDs are cool to the touch and do not contribute to indoor heat buildup. They come in a variety of whites and colors, and are also shock-resistant.
These “smart bulbs” have all the characteristics of traditional LED bulbs, but connect to your home Wi-Fi to be controlled by a smartphone or other smart home device. These bulbs will set you back a bit more than your average LED bulbs, but allow you to change the color, set an on/off timer, and more.