Renovating your home to be more energy-efficient will make your wallet happier and thicker. What may come as a surprise is that energy-efficient homes can also be more comfortable on a day to day basis. Changes that you can introduce range from water-saving practices to switching to solar. Options are many and available for every budget.
Proofing your home against air leaks can reduce energy wastage by 20 per cent. That means 20 per cent lower monthly bills for heating and air-conditioning your home. The visual charm of older homes typically covers up an energy vampire as older homes rarely have good insulation and leak a lot of air around windows, doors, the floor and the chimney.
You can invest money in professional insulation or resort to some DIY options, such as draft-proofing your doors and windows with insulation tape and using chimney balloons or chimney sheep. You can also go romantic with some heavy curtains that you’d use to keep heat in at night.
Here’s a tip for letting in fresh air in your home in winter. Instead of keeping the windows ajar for a longer period, it’s much better to fully open them for a minute or two. The air will change and less heat will leak out.
Floor insulation is a worthwhile investment. Hot air is lighter and goes up, so it makes sense that a room with warm floors will heat up more quickly and easily. Plus, the feel is amazing.
First of all, if you have any leaking taps in your home, get them fixed right away. While it may seem a relatively harmless issue, leaking taps can guzzle an unbelievable amount of water. They can also cause mold to develop.
Plumbing fixtures have advanced in leaps and bounds, not only with regard to design, but with regard to energy-efficiency as well. Tap aerators are nifty little fittings that can slash water consumption in half. What they do is mix air with water and separate a single flow of water into a multitude of streams. You as the user cannot perceive a drop in the water pressure, but you can perceive a dip in energy expenditure. There are also low-flow shower heads and toilets.
The easiest and no-cost method is choosing to shower, instead of taking a bath. And also – choosing to shower more quickly. (If you have a teen kid, this is the least they could do to alleviate the household expenses and stop getting on the family’s nerves.)
Granted, going solar would bring in most extra cash, but it is a major investment. If this option is out of your reach, there are many cheaper ways to redirect some money from utility bills to the family piggybank.
There are energy-efficient appliances now, labelled with Energy Stars. They may set you back more than regular unrated appliances initially. However, these appliances generally use 20 to 30 per cent less energy than unrated appliances of the same category. Equipping your home with highly-rated appliances can be part of your long-term savings strategy.
In the meantime, there are numerous changes to introduce that will cost you nothing or quite little. Radiator reflectors are a great way to direct maximum heat from the radiator into the room. Rechargeable batteries will also save you a substantial amount of money, particularly if your child has lots of battery-powered toys, or if you have a high-grade camera and other gadgets.
Installing LEDs around the house has two-fold benefits. Firstly, LEDs use less energy to illuminate an area. Secondly, they live longer than ordinary incandescent bulbs, so you also save money by not having to buy new bulbs every once in a while. Motion-sensitive lighting can also make a considerable contribution to savings. If nothing else, switching lights off when rooms are empty also counts.
The least we can all do is switch appliances off when we are not using them. What’s more, we should even unplug them when not in use, because shut down appliances can still drain some energy if plugged.
Some of the biggest energy leeches in the home are in the kitchen – the cooker, the fridge and the freezer. When you cook, try to put lids on pots to reduce the time needed for the food to cook. A pressure cooker is very efficient in terms of time and energy consumption. Avoid leaving the fridge door open for more than a few seconds, as each time you close the door the fridge will fire up to restore the temperature. When it comes to your freezer, make sure you defrost it regularly, so that it keeps the performance at its peak.