Green Energy Saving Tips for Your Home That Make Sense and Cents

green house in side glass piggy bank

Many of us have been told some tips for energy savings, but in the back of our mind, they just don’t make sense either financially or for practical reasons. An example of this could be to replace your perfectly working AC unit with a more energy-efficient one. Sure, makes sense right? Well, some units would definitely save your home on costs, but what a waste. Your current unit is probably operating fine, so you would wind up throwing out a completely fine heat pump or AC unit in the trash. I think there are some other environmental considerations we need to take before thinking about before making some decisions.

My heat-pump compressor is about 27-years-old. It is going strong. I could spend $8,000 with a replacement unit, and according to energy.gov recoup the costs within about 10 years. Here’s the kicker though, some technicians are saying the new units are only lasting about 12 – 15 years max! A technician looked at my unit and within 15 feet said to me, “You have the best that was ever made. They don’t make it like that anymore.” Long story short, I have decided to wait to throw away a working AC unit and opted to add insulation to my attic instead which cost me $1700 and would last longer than 12 years. This would allow my unit, which is expensive to run, to not run so often. Win-win.

Here are some other tips that I have found to make sense.

Dress for the Occasion

I know it’s kind of obvious, but many people are prone to turn up the heat when they are cold or turn on the cool air when hot. Before you make the expensive decision to turn on the air to the whole house, why not add some layers of clothes or change into something cooler. Also, consider an additional blanket at night if you get cold.

Add More Insulation in Your Attic

HouseLogic.com states, that by boosting the R level from 11 to 49, I could save up to $600 a year. HomeAdvisor.com states the average cost of adding insulation could be $1700. So, if you happen to save $600 a year on your energy costs, then you would have paid back the cost of insulation in three years. Not too bad.

Use a Different Appliance to Heat Your Food

I bought a pretty nifty toaster oven. It air-fries, it bakes, toasts, and even proofs dough. When I want to throw in a quick pizza for the kids, I don’t have to turn on this huge oven, which takes 15 minutes to heat up. I can just turn on a little toaster oven, and within 5 minutes, the pizza is done. Consider the microwave oven as well. The toaster oven was a great investment to save on energy costs. Especially for our family. Pizza night is like a sacred ritual for us once a week.

Cook Outside

This does coincide with the previous point. But I prefer to cook on my grill in the summer. I mean, who doesn’t? I love grilling! But man oh man does that oven get hot. In the summer, your air conditioner is already working overtime trying to keep up with the heat. You have kids coming in and out, and if you live in Florida as I do, my roof is hot enough to cook some eggs. Another tip is to just avoid hot meals altogether in the summertime that way you won’t need to use a grill or a stove.

Dry Items Outside

My wife doesn’t put blankets in our dryer. She hangs them on our patio to save on energy costs. I know most people don’t have clotheslines anymore. When I was growing up everyone did, but that seems to have changed these days. She doesn’t have a clothesline on our patio, so she just lays the blankets over the back of some chairs. Maybe just start with a few things to hang outside. I wouldn’t recommend your underwear.

Plant Some Trees

The sun and the heat are the hottest in the afternoon, so plant some trees that could potentially turn into some great shade in the late afternoons. Sure, this is gonna take some time to grow. There’s a Chinese proverb that says, “The best time to grow a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now”. Trees are fairly cheap, so you will definitely get some cost-benefit out of it a while from now. Besides shading your house, it provides a great place for your family to gather in the summer. We use our shaded area to have picnics and gatherings in the summer.

Replace Shingles with Energy Efficient Ones

When I replaced my roof, I replaced my shingles with lighter colored ones. I live in Florida, so I didn’t want to choose black. The Department of Agriculture stated that “Overall, the plywood sheathing in black-shingled roof systems tended to be 10˚F to 15˚F (5˚C to 8˚C) warmer during the midafternoon of a sunny day than the plywood in comparable white-shingled roof systems”. Think of the difference it would be for your air unit to have to make up for an extra 15 degrees hotter temps.

Perform an Energy Audit

Some energy companies offer to come to your home and provide an energy audit for free. They will offer you tips and suggestions on what you could do to save costs on your home. Most people don’t know about this service. My local energy company offers this service. Although, because of the pandemic, they may have paused the program. You can also pay a professional to come out and do a more thorough and scientific inspection. This may include a thermographic inspection

Use Carpet in Colder Climate Areas

According to TileHomeGuide.com they say that carpet does help you save money on home heating costs. Imagine getting out of bed in 20-degree weather outside and placing your nice cozy feet immediately on a tile floor. Brrrr.

Use Stone or Tile in Warmer Areas

According to Tile Warehouse, If your stone or tile is shielded from the sun and heat in your home, it will stay cooler longer and help with energy costs.

Close Off Unused Rooms

Most of us probably don’t have unused rooms. I don’t live in a 6 bedroom house with only two kids. So, I could understand this is not practical for most of us, but it is for some of us. If you have rooms that are not being used, then shut off the air vent and keep the doors closed. Also, make sure that the blinds are shut and curtains closed to not allow the outside elements affect that room too much.

Don’t Leave Your Bathroom Vent Running

Yes. I think we all appreciate the importance of the bathroom vent. But it’s one of those things where you have an air unit that is trying to push warm or cool air into your home and then you have one, two, or three bathroom vents pushing all that air out of your house. I found this nifty little device on Amazon, that works as an automatic bathroom vent shut off timer. I’ve had times where I had been gone all day in the hot summer and come home to find out that my bathroom vents had been on all day. Yikes.

Close Your Fireplace

When your fireplace is not in use, close the damper and close the access doors if you have some. This will prevent the warm air in your house in the winter from escaping into the chimney and out of your house.

Use Window Shades To Your Advantage

In the summer, close your blinds and block the sun, while in the winter open up your blinds and allow the sun to enter. Shades not only work to keep the outside elements from coming in, but they also prevent the inside elements from escaping.

Adjust Your Electronics

Your phone, TV, Blu-ray player, and computer probably all have energy settings to turn off, hibernate, or put devices to sleep. My kids will turn on the Blu-ray player and forget to turn off. I sometimes forget to turn off my computer monitor. This stuff is easy because you can set it and forget it. You don’t need to remember to do any of this stuff to save you money. Some take advantage of a power strip that you can just switch a bunch of devices off at once.

Install a Pump

When I first moved into my house, the previous owner had the irrigation system tapped into the city water supply. I had a well and irrigation company come and install a well and pump. I recouped the cost of this within two years. Another feature with a pump is that i am able to run a hose off the system and use well water to run the hose for washing cars, etc. The Pump was probably the best financial investment I have made at my house.

Install a Smart Water Meter

I installed a smart water meter for my home to control my irrigation system. It is amazing. It calculates the water I have used and also considers factors such as the potential for rainfall within 24 hours to decide if it is necessary to water my lawn. Typically I set my irrigation system to go off 2-3 times a week, but this summer it only had been used 1-2 times a week. What a great saver on electricity and water.

Plan for Trips

If you are going to be gone for more than 24 hours, plan on doing some things before you leave. Here are some things you can do. Set your water heater temp lower. Adjust your thermostat to 10 degrees warmer or cooler depending on the winter or summer. Check that all unnecessary appliances are unplugged.

Seal It

Take a walk around the inside and outside of your house and inspect if there are any cracks around the windows or doors. If there are, get a $4 tube of caulk and go to town. Take notice around pipes and areas too. Other options available for weather sealing are expanding foam products and also weather sealing strips that stick to other surfaces.

Other Examples

There are many other ways that you can reduce the energy in your home such as replacing older appliances with more efficient ones, installing solar panels, and replacing incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs.

There are many more ways that you can reduce your energy costs for your home. If you want a detailed and more thorough guide on how you can become more energy efficient then energy.gov offers a 48-page detailed guide on their website with tons of great tips.

Consider having your homeowner’s insurance policy covers repairing or replacing a damaged home to green standards. It can cover the costs of environmentally friendly and energy-saving materials. Some homeowners insurance carriers offer discounts by using products and construction methods that are environmentally conscious.

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