Green Living: 4 Ways to Boost Energy Efficiency in your Home

By Ed Matias

iStock_000054545014_SmallAccording to a recent survey from the U.S. Department of Energy, almost half of all American families spend an average of 17% of their after-tax incomes on energy. Though there is plenty of information and technology available, many people still do not take the initiative to go green, reducing their energy use and costs.

Though individuals can certainly buy or build homes that are designed to be more energy efficient, this isn’t the only option. There are also many simple ways that homeowners can improve energy efficiency in their existing homes in order to reduce their carbon footprint and start saving on electric bills. Here are 4 ways that you can go green and stop wasting energy:

  1. Ensure that your home is well insulated and sealed.
    One of the most cost-effective ways to make your home more energy efficient and reduce your carbon footprint is by sealing and insulating your home. Air leaks can cause you to waste energy and spend more than you need to on cooling or heating your home. A well-insulated home helps improve the indoor air quality and reduce energy bills. When insulating your home, don’t forget to look for air leaks in the attic where there is often leakage found behind and under attic knee walls as well as where the walls meet the attic floor.
  1. Find ways to use natural light to your advantage (and create shade when you need it).
    Daylighting is a process that involves using natural light to lighten up the inside of your home. This is a great way to cut down on energy costs while brightening up your house. Double-pane skylights are a great way to bring more natural light into the room. On the other hand, you also want to be able to provide shade to cool your home down when outside temperatures start to heat up. You can do this by using shades and curtains to reflect the light and keep the heat at bay. Blinds are also a great way to control natural light as they allow you to light up the room while still being able to regulate the amount of light and heat entering your home.
  1. Replace incandescent lightbulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs).
    Replacing your lightbulbs is one of the least expensive things that you can do to cut down on energy usage. Compact fluorescent lightbulbs give off the same amount of light as standard bulbs, but use less energy to generate light. Though these bulbs may be more expensive up front, they last ten times longer than other bulbs. Not only does this increase your energy efficiency and lessen your environmental footprint, but it can save you money over time as you pay less in electricity costs and have to buy fewer bulbs over time.
  1. Insulate or replace older doors and windows.
    Windows and doors are two of the biggest culprits for letting air leak and wasting energy. If your window or door is old, you might consider upgrading or replacing them to boost energy efficiency. This does not always require you to replace the doors or windows with more energy-efficient models. You can also update insulation, weatherstripping, and storm windows to decrease the chance of air leakage and boost energy efficiency.

Before you begin taking measures to boost energy efficiency in your home, you may want to get an energy audit in order to determine where you currently stand. This audit will help you better understand where you can improve efficiency. You can also speak with an HVAC professional about all of your options for increasing the efficiency of your air conditioning and cutting down on energy waste.