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10 Easy Ways to Save Energy in Your Home

Most people don’t know how easy it is to make their homes run on less energy, and here at InterNACHI, we want to change that. Drastic reductions in heating, cooling and electricity costs can be accomplished through very simple changes, most of which homeowners can do themselves. Of course, for homeowners who want their homes to take advantage of the most up-to-date knowledge and systems in home energy-efficiency, InterNACHI energy auditors can perform in-depth testing to find the best energy solutions for your particular home.

Why make your home more energy efficient? Here are a few good reasons:

  1. Find better ways to heat and cool your house.

    As much as half of the energy used in homes goes toward heating and cooling. The following are a few ways that energy bills can be reduced through adjustments to the heating and cooling systems:

  1. Install a tankless water heater.

    Demand water heaters (tankless or instantaneous) provide hot water only as it is needed. They don't produce the standby energy losses associated with storage water heaters, which will save on energy costs. Demand water heaters heat water directly without the use of a storage tank. Therefore, they avoid the standby heat losses required by traditional storage water heaters. When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water travels through a pipe into the unit. Either a gas burner or an electric element heats the water. As a result, demand water heaters deliver a constant supply of hot water. You don't need to wait for a storage tank to fill up with enough hot water.

  2. Replace incandescent lights.

    The average household dedicates 11% of its energy budget to lighting. Traditional incandescent lights convert approximately only 10% of the energy they consume into light, while the rest becomes heat. The use of new lighting technologies, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescent lamps (CFL), can reduce energy use required by lighting by 50% to 75%. Advances in lighting controls offer further energy savings by reducing the amount of time lights are on but not being used. Here are some facts about CFLs and LEDs:

  1. Seal and insulate your home.

Sealing and insulating your home is one of the most cost-effective ways to make a home more comfortable and energy efficient -– and you can do it yourself. A tightly sealed home can improve comfort and indoor air quality while reducing utility bills. An InterNACHI energy auditor can be hired to assess envelope leakage and recommend fixes that will dramatically increase comfort and energy savings.
The following are some common places where leakage may occur:

    • electrical outlets;
    • mail slots;
    • around pipes and wires;
    • wall- or window-mounted air conditioners;
    • attic hatches;
    • fireplace dampers;
    • weatherstripping around doors;
    • baseboards;
    • window frames; and
    • switch plates.

Because hot air rises, air leaks are most likely to occur in the attic. Homeowners can perform a variety of repairs and maintenance to their attics that save them money on cooling and heating, such as:

  1. Install efficient shower heads and toilets.

    The following systems can be installed to conserve water usage in homes:

  1. Use appliances and electronics responsibly.

    Appliances and electronics account for about 20% of household energy bills in a typical U.S. home. The following are tips that will reduce the required energy of electronics and appliances:

  1. Install daylighting as an alternative to electrical lighting.

    Daylighting is the practice of using natural light to illuminate the home's interior. It can be achieved using the following approaches:

    • skylights. It’s important that they be double-pane or they may not be cost-effective. Flashing skylights correctly is key to avoiding leaks;
    • lightshelves. Light shelves are passive devices designed to bounce light deep into a building. They may be interior or exterior. Light shelves can introduce light into a space up to 2½ times the distance from the floor to the top of the window, and advanced light shelves may introduce four times that amount;
    • clerestory windows. Clerestory windows are short, wide windows set high on the wall. Protected from the summer sun by the roof overhang, they allow winter sun to shine through for natural lighting and warmth; and
    • light tubes. Light tubes use a special lens designed to amplify low-level light and reduce light intensity from the midday sun. Sunlight is channeled through a tube coated with a highly reflective material, then enters the living space through a diffuser designed to distribute light evenly.
  1. Insulate windows and doors.

    About one-third of the home's total heat loss usually occurs through windows and doors. The following are ways to reduce energy lost through windows and doors:

    • Seal all window edges and cracks with rope caulk. This is the cheapest and simplest option.
    • Windows can be weatherstripped with a special lining that is inserted between the window and the frame. For doors, weatherstrip around the whole perimeter to ensure a tight seal when closed. Install quality door sweeps on the bottom of the doors, if they aren't already in place.
    • Install storm windows at windows with only single panes. A removable glass frame can be installed over an existing window.
    • If existing windows have rotted or damaged wood, cracked glass, missing putty, poorly fitting sashes, or locks that don't work, they should be repaired or replaced.
  1. Cook smart.

    An enormous amount of energy is wasted while cooking. The following recommendations and statistics illustrate less wasteful ways of cooking:

    • Convection ovens are more efficient that conventional ovens. They use fans to force hot air to circulate more evenly, thereby allowing food to be cooked at a lower temperature. Convection ovens use approximately 20% less electricity than conventional ovens.
    • Microwave ovens consume approximately 80% less energy than conventional ovens.
    • Pans should be placed on the correctly-sized heating element or flame.
    • Lids make food heat more quickly than pans that do not have lids.
    • Pressure cookers reduce cooking time dramatically.
    • When using conventional ovens, food should be placed on the top rack. The top rack is hotter and will cook food faster.
  1. Change the way you wash your clothes.

    • Do not use the “half load” setting on your washer. Wait until you have a full load of clothes, as the “half load” setting saves less than half of the water and energy.
    • Avoid using high-temperature settings when clothes are not that dirty. Water that is 140 degrees uses far more energy than 103 degrees for a "warm" setting, but 140 degrees isn’t that much better for washing purposes.
    • Clean the lint trap before you use the dryer, every time. Not only is excess lint a fire hazard, but it will prolong the amount of time required for your clothes to dry.
    • If possible, air-dry your clothes on lines and racks.
    • Spin-dry or wring clothes out before putting them into a dryer.

Homeowners who take the initiative to make these changes usually discover that the energy savings are more than worth the effort. However, you should consider that inspectors can make this process much easier and perform a more comprehensive assessment of energy saving potential than you can. Call Top Quality Inspections Inc. today to perform an energy inspection in your home.