Green energy is a hot topic here in Denver. We help drive innovation across the country with our thriving solar industry and other energy initiatives. But improving the energy efficiency of your home doesn’t have to mean big expenditures; you can make small changes that will still make a difference in your utility bills. We’re going to take a look at projects big and small that can make your home a little greener, save you money on utility bills, and maybe even increase the value of your home.
Unplug your chargers and appliances when you’re not using them
Many appliances, TVs, and phone chargers continue to draw power when they’re not in use, so there are a lot of savings to be found in making sure things are left unplugged after you’ve finished using them. Try using surge protectors for areas with a lot of things plugged in, such as your computer or TV area, to make it easier to unplug.
Use cool or warm settings on your washing machine
Up to 90% of the energy used by your washing machine can go to heating up water, so using cool or warm water settings will save a bundle over time. Another simple way to save energy is by making sure you only wash full loads of laundry instead of half-loads. Front-loading washing machines are also more efficient than top-loading machines in both water and energy usage, so definitely look at front-loading machines first the next time you’re ready for a new machine.
Install low-flow showerheads and water fixtures
Low-flow water fixtures will save you a lot of money on water usage, but depending on the fixture you want to replace it could be a major project. Low-flow showerheads are the least expensive and easiest way to get started, while low-flow faucets and low-flush toilets can be saved for when you’re ready for a major project. You can also check your current water fixtures for leaks and get those repaired if you’re not ready to replace them.
Install a programmable thermostat
Programmable thermostats can save you up to 10% on your energy bills, so they’ll pay for themselves pretty quickly. Plus, you’ll never have to worry about remembering to turn the thermostat up or down again.
Seal air leaks around your house
This is a pretty big project but it can be well worth it, especially in older, draftier homes. Air leaks drain away whatever heat or air conditioning you have on—not to mention the money you’re spending on that heating and cooling. Check around windows, doors, foundation, attic, and ducts to seal up the most common air leaks.
Replace doors and windows, or get storm doors and windows added in
Replacing doors and windows with more energy efficient models can get both pricy and time-consuming, but the energy savings can be huge. It may not be worth replacing doors and windows unless they’re already worn down or leaking, but you can also add storm windows and doors for a less expensive way to reap many of the same benefits.
Make sure your walls and attic are properly insulated
Insulation is key to ensuring your home keeps its heat in the winter and stays cool during the summer. Although it’s rarely worth it to replace insulation, it’s still worth checking that your walls are properly insulated without any gaps that allow air to pass through. Unfinished attics or lofts can be a huge drain on your heating or cooling efforts, so installing insulation can save you a lot of money pretty quickly.
Sealing and insulating your home are huge projects, but if you’re not ready for the time and expense involved, planting trees around your home can help. Deciduous trees that lose their leaves each year can provide shade and cover that keep the worst of the heat off your home in summer. During winter when their leaves are gone they’ll allow as much sunlight as possible through to help warm up your house.
Replace old furnaces and boilers
Old furnaces and boilers can drain money from your home, with many older models wasting fuel or simply not able to compare to the more energy efficient models available today. Although this is a big expense, it will pay off in the long run and add value to your home.
Check for tax incentives for energy efficiency upgrades to your home
Before starting any major projects, make sure you see if there are tax incentives in place to help you upgrade your home. With such a high price tag on many of these projects, it can make a big difference when you know you’ll be able to get some of it back.
Get an energy audit
If you think it’s time to start a major efficiency upgrade to your home, start by getting an energy audit. Once you know the scope of potential upgrades it’ll be much easier to decide where to start, and the overall value in reducing your expenses and adding value to your home can more than make up for the cost.