Step 1: Upgrade Your Windows
The right windows come with the ability to trap in cool air during the summer and hot air in the winter. Replacing old, drafty windows may be a more expensive project but it gives you long-term energy savings for years.
The best type of windows are insulated with argon gas between the two panes. Also look for those with low-emissivity coating on the glass. Expect to pay between $600 and $700 for each window, but save up to 50% on your energy bills.
Step 2: Use Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs
More and more light bulbs are hitting store shelves and often at widely varying price points. But replacing traditional incandescent lights with more efficient options comes with a relatively low cost compared to projects like replacing major appliances or installing all new windows. Plus, most energy efficient light bulbs last longer than incandescents, so even though you spend more upfront, you won’t have to replace them as frequently.
Compact fluorescents (CFLs), for instance, not only use less than two-thirds of the energy required by standard bulbs, they also last 10 times longer. Most CFLs cost between $3 and $5 each, or up to $14 for a dimmable version. LED bulbs are also arriving on the residential market, although they cost about $15 per bulb. The upside is that they last and even have options available that are enabled for Alexa and Google Assistant.
Step 3: Get a Tankless Water Heater
Your hot water heater is one of the biggest energy consumers of all your home appliances. Consider a tankless version, which is significantly more energy efficient and tends to outlast conventional storage water heaters.
For even better results, opt for a condensing tankless water heater, which reuses exhaust gas to help heat your water more quickly.
Step 4: Update and Design Your HVAC System
Replacing your old HVAC with a new system provides significant savings on your energy bills all year long, from heating your house in the winter to cooling the air during the hot summer months.
Make sure you choose an HVAC with a high rating from Energy Star. Your new unit should also be the right size for your home, which can be discovered by a heat-loss calculation performed by a contractor.
Many Mitsubishi Electric Heating and Cooling Units are Energy Star-certified and also let you control separate zones in your home to be as efficient as possible. Whatever product you choose, expect to spend at least $5,000 for a complete replacement.
After your new HVAC is installed, schedule an annual servicing so it runs smoothly over the years. Also use media filters with an antimicrobial coating to improve your home’s air quality.
Step 5: Improve Your Appliances’ Energy Efficiency
As you need to replace appliances throughout your home, opt for those with a high Energy Star rating. Also think about the appliance design when choosing a new one. A front-loading washing machine, for example, not only dries clothes better (thereby reducing the dryer’s job), it also uses less water.
Regardless of when you plan to upgrade your household appliances, you can also take specific steps with your current ones to maximize their efficiency. Your refrigerator, for example, should have about an inch of space surrounding it on all sides to improve air circulation. You should also turn off the refrigerator and clean the cooling coil of dust and debris at least once a year.
Step 6: Improve Your Insulation
Improving your home’s insulation has the potential to save between 10% and 50% of your heating bill. The best place to target is your attic, including the floor and the rafters.
For an area with standard joist spacing, opt for batts, which are long rolls of insulation. Fiberglass batts cost between $0.40 and $1 per square foot, not including insulation.
For non-standard areas with odd joist spacing or frequent obstructions, it’s easier to use loose fill insulation. It costs about $1.20 to $2 per square foot to have a contractor blow it in.
Alternatively, you can save money by renting your own blower for about $70 a day and spending no more than $0.60 per square foot on materials. Whenever installing any type of new insulation, remember to protect the attic’s air flow by leaving the soffit vents open.
Step 7: Use a Fireplace Insert
Another way to slash your energy costs is to add an insert to your fireplace. This simple addition to your home reduces heated air loss through the fireplace, transforming it from a warm ambience to an effective tool for keeping you comfortable all winter long.
Using a professional installer maximizes the insert’s efficiency and ensures proper ventilation. For a quality fireplace insert with installation services, expect to spend between $2,000 and $4,000.
Saving energy in your home (and keeping money in your pocket) comes from looking at both the big picture and your day-to-day habits. Analyze your home’s weak spots in order to prioritize your upcoming investments in energy efficiency.
You don’t need to make all of these changes in a year; instead, be strategic about your home improvement choices so that you’re incorporating smart energy solutions as well.