8 ways to transform your house into an energy-efficient home

Updated

a rendering of a sleek-looking modern home with solar panels and a tesla charging in the carport

 

Do you feel like you’re spending a fortune on your electric bill? Chances are your home is using a lot more electricity than it needs to. By making your home more energy efficient, you can substantially cut down on your energy expenses. 

We have 8 easy tips that can help you increase your home’s energy efficiency and decrease your monthly energy bill.

What is energy efficiency?

Before we get into how to make your home more energy efficient, let’s go over what energy efficiency is. The key to energy efficiency is doing more with less

When something is energy efficient, it will use less energy to complete a job. For example, an energy-efficient home will use less electricity to heat a room to 70 degrees than a non-energy-efficient home. 

Because you’re using less electricity, you are increasing your home’s overall energy efficiency, and reducing how much electricity you take from your utility. This has two major benefits - you spend less on your electricity bills and you help the environment by reducing your carbon footprint.

Decreasing your energy costs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions? Sounds like a no-brainer to me!

Top 8 tips for making your home more energy efficient 

Creating an energy-efficient home can be done by making a few upgrades. Some are bigger investments than others, but they will all end up saving you money in the long run. 

Here are SolarReviews’ top tips for increasing your home’s energy efficiency:

1. Get a home energy audit

A home energy audit, or a home energy evaluation, will identify which energy efficiency improvements you should make to your home to decrease your energy consumption. 

An energy auditor will also show where there is air leaking out of and into your house, and check that your heating and cooling systems are working properly. During an energy audit, several tests and inspections will be completed to determine which home improvements would be most beneficial. 

2. Replace your light bulbs 

Installing energy efficient lighting is one of the easiest things you can do to increase your home’s energy efficiency. 

Energy-efficient light bulbs, also known as LED light bulbs, use 75% less energy than incandescent light bulbs because they don’t release as much heat. By eliminating heat loss, LEDs can use substantially less energy. 

a rendering of three lightbulbs each labeled with its specific wattage

One incandescent light bulb uses 15 times more electricity than an LED light bulb! 

Not to mention, LED bulbs last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs, so you don’t have to spend money constantly changing out your bulbs.

Find out how many solar panels you need to offset 100% of your power bill

3. Upgrade to energy-efficient appliances

Switching from traditional appliances to energy-efficient appliances is another great way to decrease your energy usage. Energy-efficient appliances are designed to use less electricity to complete the same tasks that a traditional appliance would. 

It’s easy to find energy-efficient appliances - just look for the Energy Star label when you’re shopping. Energy Star is a third-party company that certifies that appliances and electronics meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) energy efficiency requirements without sacrificing their performance abilities. 

energystar logo

Look for the Energy Star label when looking to upgrade your appliances.

Most appliances have energy-efficient models, ranging from energy-efficient space heaters to washing machines to air conditioners. Keep in mind, Energy Star appliances come at a higher price than traditional appliances, but you can recoup the extra cost through the energy bill savings the appliance will provide.

4. Install smart thermostats 

Another big source of wasted electricity is heating and cooling your home. In fact, heating and cooling are actually the two biggest categories of energy usage in households.

That’s where smart and programmable thermostats come in. With a smart thermostat, you program what temperature you want your home to be and what your daily schedule is like. Smart thermostats are also able to detect when you’re home, what rooms you’re in, and remember adjustments you make to the temperature throughout the day. 

smart thermostats by brands honeywell, ecobee, nest, and sensi

Smart thermostats can help you cut down on the thing that’s costing you most on your electric bill - heating and cooling. Image source: HVAC.com

However, smart thermostats can be tricky. If you don’t correctly program and monitor your smart thermostat, it can actually end up increasing your electric bill, not lowering it. If you do use your smart thermostat properly, it does have the potential to decrease your heating costs by 10% to 12%, and your cooling costs by 15%

Check out this article comparing Nest and ecobee to see what features each brand offers, and which smart thermostat is right for your home. 

5. Upgrade your windows 

Installing energy-efficient windows, which are designed to help you maximize energy savings, is another great way to maximize your energy savings. 

Energy-efficient windows usually have multiple panes of glass that are separated by gas fills. The gas in between the panes of glass is usually argon or krypton, which helps provide added insulation to the windows. They also usually have high-quality wooden frames that reduce the transfer of heat. 

But energy-efficient windows can be quite expensive. So, if you don’t already need to replace your windows, it might make more sense for you to seal your windows using caulk or weatherstripping to prevent air leaks. Air sealing your windows is an easy DIY project that can decrease your home’s energy usage.

6. Consider using smart power strips 

If you’re afraid of ghosts, then you should be terrified of phantom loads. A phantom load is an electronic device that is turned off while plugged in, but still draws electricity from the outlet. Phantom loads can end up adding $200 to your utility bill every year! 

infographic depicting a smart powerstrip

Smart power strips save you money by stopping power from going to devices that don’t need it, such as your computer, but keep the power flowing to devices that you need to remain on, like your WiFi. 

Things like televisions, printers, computers, and device chargers all draw energy even when they aren’t in use. But do you really want to unplug your TV every time you’re not watching it? 

Smart power strips solve this problem by shutting down electronics that go into “standby mode”, while the power strip provides continuous power to things that need to stay on all the time, like your WiFi router. 

7. Insulate your home 

If your home isn’t properly insulated, it’s going to use a lot of extra energy to heat and cool it, even if you do install a smart thermostat. A well-insulated home is an energy-efficient home!

This tip tends to be a little more expensive than the others, sometimes coming out to around $1,000. However, the EPA estimates homeowners could save 15% on heating and cooling costs just by adding fiberglass insulation to their homes. 

illustration depicting the conditioned and unconditioned spaces within a home

In this home, it would be beneficial to add insulation between the attic and the top floor, as the attic is an unheated space. 

Insulating any walls or floors between your home and an unheated space, like the wall between your home and an attached garage or the floor above your crawl space, will give you the best results.

8. Install solar panels on your roof 

Although technically not an energy efficiency upgrade, powering your home with solar energy is the best way to make your home green. Plus, it’ll give you the best electric bill savings out of any of the tips on this list! 

Solar panels take energy efficiency to the next level by taking advantage of renewable energy and reducing your reliance on fossil fuels.

blue polycrystalline solar panels

Solar panels are a great way to power your energy efficient home. They cut down your electric bill and lower your carbon footprint. 

Solar panels work by converting sunlight into electricity. That clean electricity is then used to power your home. You don’t have to pay for the electricity your solar panels produce, which cuts down your electric bill. 

Get more bang for your buck in an energy efficient home

Making energy-efficient upgrades takes some work and incurs upfront costs, but in the end, it’ll be a profitable and cost-effective investment. By making your home energy efficient, you decrease your home’s energy use, save money, and help in the fight against climate change. 

Whether you choose to follow some or all of our energy efficiency tips, you’ll be making a positive change to both your wallet and the environment.

How much can you save annually by installing solar panels on your roof?
 - Author of Solar Reviews

Catherine Lane

SolarReviews Blog Author

Catherine is a researcher and content specialist at SolarReviews. She has strong interests in issues related to climate and sustainability which led her to pursue a degree in environmental science at Ramapo College of New Jersey.

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