Most homeowners are generally interested in conserving energy—if nothing else, because doing so might lower their energy bills. However, knowing exactly where to start can be a challenge. After all, one or two small changes probably won’t make a significant dent in your home’s energy use. What is the best way to go about making your home more efficient in a way that actually matters?
In this article and the accompanying infographic, we review some of the most-effective ways to conserve energy and lower your utility bills. Beyond that, however, we also recommend scheduling a home energy audit with a local professional in your area. Look for professionals certified by the Building Performance Institute, and you’ll know you’re getting a knowledgeable and trustworthy contractor.
Get the most out of your cooling and heating
If you’re like most U.S. homeowners, you probably spend about half of your energy bills on your cooling and heating. Every homeowner knows the sting of opening that high summer electric bill. The good news is that you can both save money and reduce your energy use by making your cooling and heating more efficient.
Invest in your HVAC systems
One great place to start is with seasonal tune-ups for your cooling and heating systems. By having an experienced professional inspect and maintain your air conditioner in the spring and your furnace in the fall, you can ensure that both are functioning as efficiently as possible.
If you have a system that is more than a decade old, ask your technician how much you could save and conserve by upgrading to a new model. Thanks to both evolving technology and consumer demand, today’s cooling and heating systems are far more energy efficient than those manufactured 10 years ago.
Make your home more efficient
Air conditioners, heat pumps, and furnaces all work by changing the temperature of the air, and then pushing that cooled or heated air through ducts to the living spaces of your home. However, much of this cooled and heated air is actually lost. Some of it escapes through cracks or pinholes in your home’s air ducts. Even more of it is lost through the attic due to poor insulation, or around doors and windows because of gaps that allow air to escape.
By addressing the areas where your home is losing cooled or heated air, you can greatly reduce the energy your home wastes, cutting your monthly bills and conserving energy. We recommend consulting with a BPI-certified Energy Auditor and home performance specialist in your area to get tailored recommendations for how to upgrade your home’s efficiency and comfort.
Make smart home upgrades
Automation is the way of the future, and homeowners who use “smart” technology can put their home on the path to conserving more energy in many years to come.
Take smart thermostats, for instance. There are many models of advanced thermostats out there, but the basic concept behind all of them is roughly the same: the smart thermostat adheres to a schedule, adjusting the temperature in your home to account for when you’re away at work or on vacation. This eliminates the (common) human error of accidentally leaving the home at a cooler or warmer temperature for the day. It also gives the homeowner the ability to control the temperature of their home from anywhere using their smartphone.
Many of these smart thermostats take things a step further and can “learn” from past behavior to create the most-efficient cooling and heating schedule possible for your home. Be sure to talk to your local utility company, too! Nest thermostats, for instance, have a pilot program in some markets called “Rush Hour Rewards” that allows homeowners to get energy rebates for agreeing to allow the utility company to control their thermostat during high demand on the grid.
Don’t neglect the small changes
Of course, cooling and heating your home accounts for only half of your energy use. When it comes to the other half, you can make small, relatively inexpensive upgrades with conservation and savings in mind. One smart, low-cost move is to replace older, inefficient bulbs with new LED or CFL bulbs. Even something as simple as cleaning your air filters on a regular basis can make a huge difference in how much energy your home uses!
As mentioned before, our recommendation is that you speak to a local BPI-certified professional in your area and schedule a home energy audit. However, you should also check out this new infographic from the team of HVAC professionals at Allbritten in Fresno, California. It contains tips for establishing a home maintenance budget and some simple starting points for cutting down on your home’s energy use: