Eight steps closer to an energy-efficient home

Not changing energy suppliers regularly to make great savings is something we are all guilty of.  In fact, we’ve only done it once in our home of over four years and we were unknowingly wasting lots of money for three of those by not switching to a better deal!  We’ve now finally made the switch and realise how simple it all is. 

As well as switching deals to a cheaper energy tariff, possibly with a new supplier, we should all be making our homes as energy efficient as possible.  In this article we’ll look together at the various ways to have a more energy-efficient home.

Admittedly, there may be an expense in making your home energy-efficient. In this article, we will consider renovations and remodelling, replacing the old with the new, and using renewable energy as a viable way of saving money. At the outset, you will see a dent in your bank balance. However, going green is totally worth it in the long run. Despite the expense, you will make savings eventually, giving you a home worth living in.  Furthermore, if you do ever decide to move, you have the peace of mind knowing that you have added to your home’s value. Even if you aren’t that interested in eco-living yourself (though you should be), know that today’s house-buying marketplace place this at the top of their itinerary when looking for somewhere to live.

So, if you want to save money, save energy, and contribute to saving the world, here are the steps you need to take to make your home more energy-efficient.

Step 1: Ask your utility company for an energy audit

In some cases, your utility company will do this for free, but even if there is a cost involved, it’s still worth going through with the audit if it means you will make savings down the line. They will let you know how much energy you are using, tell you how you may be wasting energy, and give you an idea on what improvements can be made. While they may tell you what you probably already know, you may still pick up a few hints and tips that you hadn’t previously considered, and there may be ways you are wasting energy that will come as a surprise to you. Did you know your ceiling fan was turning in the wrong direction? It’s worth checking the previous link for more information!  Even your regular bills come with handy energy saving hints and tips, so read them.

Step 2: Keep the cold air out and the warm air in

Sitting at home in the winter, the last thing you want to feel are cool drafts circulating around your body. But you will if there are cracks situated anywhere around your property. You need to read my article on drafts and cracks for advice, and then spend time looking for ways to seal and insulate your home. There are some renovation ideas in the next point, but if you’re looking to save money in the interim, the least you can do is use a filler to mend any cracks. Your DIY store will stock a variety of sealants so consult them for advice.

Step 3: Commit to home renovations

By coming to this site, you probably enjoy a little home remodelling anyway, and in a bid to make your home more energy-efficient, you have incentive to get to work on your property again. Of course, if your DIY skills aren’t up to scratch, then you could always call in the professionals, so know your limits before committing to something.

So, where to start? Replacing old doors and windows (with frames) is a good place to begin. Installing aluminum sliding doors on your patio, and storm doors as an addition to your home, are both excellent ways to increase energy efficiency. Replacing single-glazed windows with double or even triple-glazed is also a worthy investment.

Consider insulating your loft, roofing, and floors, as you will preserve the heat in your home and prevent it from escaping. And then think about solar home designs to further reduce the impact on your energy bills.  We even have our solar panels linked to our hot water so some of it is heated from the energy we create from the sun.

Step 4: Be smart

By adding smart home devices, you can continue to save on your energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint. What’s not to love? By using a Home Energy Monitor, you can track how much electricity you are using, and then make the necessary changes as a consequence. A Smart Strip Surge Protector will cut your devices off when they have been idling for an extended period.

Wi-Fi controlled light bulbs can be dimmed or turned off with a button press on your smartphone. And programmable thermostats can be controlled remotely with your smart device, meaning you can switch the heating on when you’re on the commute from work, or turn the heating off if you forget to do so when you leave the house in a hurry in the morning!   Something I’d really love is to be able to control the heating in each individual room from an app on my phone – perhaps one day!

Step 5: Purchase energy-efficient appliances

If you are still using decades-old appliances, then they are probably responsible for your huge energy bills. The biggest culprits are your refrigerator, washing machine, oven, microwave, dishwasher, and your television. These are the items you will be using often, and each is responsible for eating up your electricity. If they don’t have the Energy Star seal of approval, then it’s in your best interest to replace them with something that does. The latest technology is designed to reduce your carbon footprint, and they work better than your rickety old devices. Have a walk around your home and inspect your devices today.  If your fridge isn’t cooling the food enough and is years old, like ours currently is, then it’s time to look for an energy efficient replacement.

Step 6: Replace your lighting

Thankfully, most stores are now replacing the traditional incandescent light bulbs with their energy-saving alternatives, so if you haven’t already, unscrew those products that are guilty of burning up your energy levels (and the money in your bank) with something that is energy-efficient and cost effective. Typically, these will be LED and CFL light bulbs, more expensive to buy than the traditional kind, but they burn brighter for longer, meaning you will save money in the long-term.  If you’re using prepaid electricity then prepaid lights is certainly an option to consider.

Solar panels on roof of house

Step 7: Implement good habits around the home

Some things are common sense, but you are bound to be guilty of one or more bad habits that are causing the rise in your energy bills. And if you’re not, then your family probably are. Good habits include turning lights off in rooms you aren’t using, unplugging appliances once they are fully charged or not in use, only using the washing machine and dishwasher when they are full, and cutting down on the amount of time you spend under the shower. These aren’t the only good habits you need to employ regularly, but they are a start. You see, no matter how many renovations you make to your home, and no matter how many smart devices you include, good old common sense is sometimes all that is needed to slash energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint.

Step 8: Consider using alternative energy

After making your home energy-efficient, it’s worth thinking outside of the norm with the types of energy you use. We have already mentioned solar energy, but you might also consider geothermal energy, wind power, and hybrid systems. These sources of renewable energy and more can be found in this guide to home renewable energy options.

There are other solutions, of course. Installing a coal fire or a log fire will be more cost-effective than electric and gas heating methods. And setting up your own water sources will save you money on your quarterly water bill. Why feed the pockets of utility company bosses when you can create your own energy sources without their intervention?   You can even install clever rainwater systems that use rainwater for the toilet flush, for example.  Once you start looking there are many ways to start living a more greener lifestyle in the home.

Bottom line

You don’t need to follow every piece of advice in this article. If you don’t have the money to commit to every home renovation available to you, and if you don’t have the inclination to give up on your regular energy suppliers just yet, then that’s okay. The least you can do is create good habits at home, make minor repairs to insulate each room in your house, and spend a little bit of money on devices that aren’t going to drain your income each month.

The investments you make, no matter how large or small are worth it. You will be doing your bit to reduce your carbon footprint, you will be making savings each month. So, for whatever the reason you have for doing so, consider taking at least one step closer to having an energy-efficient home today!

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