Ready to make a change in the new year? Even if you implement just a few of these, you’re doing something more for the environment and your wallet than you were doing previously. Here is a short list of 10 great ways to make your home and your lifestyle more efficient.
#1. Replace Filters
Replace all filters throughout your house including those in bathroom fans, furnaces and range fans. Dirty filters make systems work harder and run longer than necessary. Each year you should dedicate some time to replacing the filters and for a furnace that should be every 6 months or so, especially if you have pets.
#2. Adjust your thermostat.
“Set your thermostat to 78 in the summer and 68 in the winter to help those energy bills. For every degree of extra heating or cooling it can increase your energy usage by 6-8%. Going higher or lower won’t usually create the temp you want faster, it will just run longer and cost more money.” Tip from Tampa Buyers Broker
#3. Operate freezers and refrigerators properly.
By filling your fridge and freezer you actually let the appliance work smarter, not harder. Filling them to the right amount, full but allowing air to flow freely will allow them to operate at the optimal usage. Defrost freezers when there is at least a ½ inch of ice build up to ensure these appliances are working at their optimal efficiency.
#4. Compost and Recycle.
Trying to make your waste management more of a game. See how few items you can actually put in your garbage bin each week. Trying to fill up the compost and recycle more instead of the actual garbage. Rinse out recyclable items so that they can be recycled easier and anything that you are allowed to compost, make sure you do. Composting and recycling can be different in different parts of the country so definitely ask your waste management company what they allow. Some compost bins can accept anything from meat and bones to tree limbs, paper towels and newspaper. Some recycling companies will take anything with the recycling triangle regardless of the number. Try to keep your garbage, the actual stuff you throw away in the landfill, as minimal as possible.
#5. Check for leaks.
Go around the house checking for air leaks in Windows, door frames, vents, and fireplaces. Anywhere you can seal up air loss will let your HVAC systems work smarter instead of harder. Seal up any air leaks in and around windows in the home or add weatherstripping around frames. A bead of silicone caulking over any cracks in the drywall is an easy and inexpensive way to lower energy costs.
Related: Why you should maintain your chimney
#6. Replace incandescent bulbs.
“Make a conscious effort to get a better LED or CFL light bulb every time you go to the grocery store and slowly replace all of the bulbs in your house. This can be quite costly if you do it all at once so as the new year rolls around, try to make it a priority to pick up at least one or two bulbs every time you visit the store.” – Amar Realtor
#7. Consider an energy audit.
Some energy utility offices will provide a free energy audit for homeowners. This is where an energy auditor will go through the house determining where you can save money and where you may be losing energy.
#8. Turn off and unplug.
You would be surprised at how much energy just leaving non-working appliances use by being plugged in. This is your phone charger, household kitchen appliances, TVs, computers, and anything else that doesn’t need to be running 24 hours a day. Consider turning off lights and unplugging appliances and electronics when not in use.
Additional: 4 Tips to Improve Your Home and Save on Your Energy Bill – The Living Well Team
#9. Water usage.
Remember that old Sesame Street episode where they told you to turn off the water while you’re brushing your teeth? Well, that still applicable. Anytime that you don’t have to run the water, turn it off. Most of the energy consumption of washing clothes comes from heating the water, so washing and cold water can make a big difference as well. Consider air drying by setting up a drying rack in your laundry room instead of using the dryer which uses a lot of energy. Consider tankless water heaters to save money on water usage and heating even though it is a bit of the cost upfront. Choose more energy efficient dishwashers and washing machines with the Energy Star seal of approval.
#9. Update installation.
Unless you have a brand-new home, chances are the insulation has drooped and slid within your walls over time. This can be an expensive fix but, it is one of the best ways to ensure proper insulation in your home. Talk to an insulation expert about the best way to refill or redo the insulation in your home.
Again, just doing one or two of these items in the new year will definitely save time, save money, and save the environment just a little bit. Plus, you can make it a game in your home; who’s the last one to turn out the lights before everyone leaves? Who can go all week without actually throwing garbage away? The more we all do, even little by little, the bigger impact we can have as a whole.