Many homeowners are striving for additional energy efficiency these days, as the price of power continues to climb. Most buildings are wasting electricity somewhere, and correcting these issues is usually easy and inexpensive. In many cases, it may just require extra vigilance on people living in the house. These fixes range from simple solutions, like replacing wasteful lighting and appliances, to major investments that can offer lasting benefits, like installing a solar or geothermal system.
Lighting is often one of the big drains on a home’s energy efficiency, either because the technology used in them is outdated or they are left on when no one is around. Compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs, use a fraction of the power that traditional tungsten fixtures do, as these obsolete lights waste a great deal of their electricity generating heat instead. A single CFL can save anywhere from $50 to $80 over its lifetime, and is installed like any other bulb. Some people have trouble remembering to shut the lights off when they leave the room, and over time, this can result in throwing a lot of money away. While it is an investment, there are some systems that can be installed in the home that power down lighting at certain times, or use motion to detect when no one is in the building and then shuts off the lights.
Another way to achieve energy efficiency is to switch out wasteful appliances with Energy Star rated models. This program is sponsored by the EPA, and alerts consumers to the devices that use the least amount of electricity to function. These models may use up to 30 percent less power, which is especially helpful for those looking for a new refrigerator or dishwasher. A second fridge in the home will cost about $15 every month to run, so if it’s just sitting in the garage and not getting much use, it may make more sense to unplug it and wait until it is needed.
Fixing the climate control center of the house can be hugely beneficial, because this is where about half of the home’s power is used. Duct-in systems waste a lot of electricity through leakage in the seams. Some systems may waste about 25 percent of its power in this way. To improve energy efficiency, consider purchasing a ductless system instead, or insulate the ducts by wrapping duct tape and insulation around the seams. A programmable thermostat that is better at timing furnace start-ups and shut-downs will not only save a lot of money, it will prevent temperature spikes in the home and keep the interior at a steady temperature.
For those that are willing to make a major investment, installing a solar or geothermal system can greatly increase energy efficiency. Once the solar panels are paid down, which typically takes four or five years, the electricity they generate is free, and if it’s enough to power the house, a homeowner can avoid the grid completely and live off of green power. Geothermal systems don’t generate power, but they can regulate the temperature of the building and heat water, essentially omitting the biggest spenders of power in the house.