This winter is the perfect time to go a little greener at home. Whether your home heating system runs on fuel oil, natural gas or electricity, your energy bills are expected to rise in the coming months. So embracing today’s energy conservation trend isn’t just good for the environment, it’s good for your wallet. Take a few steps to increase your heating system’s efficiency, and while you’re at it, why not make some more changes that can save you some green all year long? Here are seven ways to make your home more energy efficient:
1. Get a programmable thermostat
There’s no need to heat or cool your home during the day if there’s no one there. Using a programmable thermostat to adjust your home’s temperature setting can save you as much as $150 a year, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates.
2. Replace older systems
Get your heating and air conditioning systems checked by a professional once a year, and – if you’ve got filters – replace them every month or two. It’s probably worth it to replace systems more than 15 years old with new, more energy efficient ones, especially if you can wait to do it in the off-season, when heating and air conditioning companies are running specials.
3. Fill in the gaps
Plugging leaks around doors, window frames, at switch plates and electrical outlets and along your baseboard can yield energy savings of between 5 and 30 percent a year, according to the energy department.
4. Choose more efficient windows
It may or may not be worth the money to replace your windows solely for energy savings. But if you’re planning to install new windows anyway, be sure to choose ones with the government’s Energy Star label. They can be twice as efficient as windows manufactured as recently as ten years ago.
5. Reduce water consumption
Installing a low-flow showerhead and fixing any leaky faucets will not only save you on your water bill. You’ll use less energy because you won’t be heating water that you don’t need.
6. Buy compact fluorescent light bulbs
They use 75 percent less energy and last up to 10 times longer than standard bulbs. And while they may cost more than regular light bulbs, they will save you money if used wisely. You’ll see the greatest savings if you use them in rooms where you spend at least a few hours a day, such the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom.
7. Replace inefficient appliances
Among all home appliances, energy-efficient clothes washers, dishwashers and refrigerators are widely considered the best investment, yielding the greatest energy savings compared to older models.