The new year is the perfect time to change your life for the better. While healthy lifestyle goals often take the spotlight, green living is also a worthwhile and rewarding resolution to pursue.
If you’re paying bills already, you are well aware of the fact that high-energy usage equates to high spending on your part. Cutting down on your use of electricity will obviously minimize your bills, but it’ll also do good for the Earth: Reducing your carbon footprint can have a positive effect on wildlife, your health and even the economy.
With those benefits to inspire your efforts, here’s how you can reduce your home’s energy usage in the new year and beyond:
Unless you adjust it every night before bed, your thermostat continues pumping out heat while you’re sleeping. If you’re bundled up under your comforter already, you don’t need that warm of a temperature to comfortably sleep.
An adjustable thermostat will automatically reduce the temperature in your house while you’re sleeping. You can set it to start up a half-hour before you wake up, so you’re not hopping out of bed and into a cold house. After a year or so of programmed reduction in use, your new thermostat will have paid for itself through your reduced energy bills.
We’re not talking about Halloween-style vampires here: We’re talking about vampire plugs. If you leave electronics plugged in all day long, they’ll draw power from your outlets — and spike your energy bills — even when they’re not being used.
You can reduce the number of energy vampires in your home by routinely unplugging things that aren’t in use. If you plug everything into a power strip, though, you can simply flip a switch and turn off power to everything hooked into it. Voila: You’re reducing your energy usage with the press of a button.
We promise it’s easy to make your home more energy-efficient. However, if you’re struggling, it’ll be even easier if you bring in the professionals for some retro commissioning. The retro-commissioning process improves a building’s energy usage, among other benefits. Your home’s air quality will likely improve in the process, as will its functionality with all the updated bells and whistles.
Your heating and air-conditioning system makes up a good portion of your home’s energy usage. As you know, the warmed or cooled air it produces flows through ducts and escapes through vents to keep your home’s climate as you like it. The system can’t function at its best if there are blockages these areas, though. To prevent them, vacuum your vents regularly and replace filters so air can flow freely, as it’s supposed to.
Another preventive measure you can take? Adding extra insulation to your attic. A weak layer of insulation will only let the air inside your home to escape — the very air you pay to heat and cool.
So, in order to stop wasting energy — and save money on heating and cooling — add more insulation. Going from 3 inches to 12 can slash air conditioning costs by 10 percent and heating costs by a whopping 20 percent.
It costs a bit of money upfront, but upgrading your appliances will be a huge boon to your energy-related savings if you buy smart. Nowadays, there are energy-efficient options for all the major items your home needs: refrigerators, dishwashers, washers and dryers are up for grabs. Do your research into eco-friendly appliance options or simply look for the Energy Star sticker, which indicates a product that has met a high benchmark in terms of its efficiency.
The convenience of a dishwasher, washer or dryer makes it tempting to run a half-full load to get your hands on the shirt, coffee mug or pair of pants you like best. In 2018, though, you should make a point to use your major appliances only when they’re completely full so you’re not wasting the energy it takes to run a cycle on a load that’s just a fraction of the item’s washing capacity.
Old-school lightbulbs have nothing on the efficiency — and lifespan — of today’s LED bulbs. They use 75 percent less energy than the incandescent bulbs you grew up with and may still have in your home. Plus, they last 25 percent longer, saving you a few trips to the hardware store each year.
These are just a handful of the methods for reducing your energy usage in the new year. Get creative — there are so many unexpected ways to use less. Once you’ve mastered the art of saving electricity, why stop there? It’s also Earth-friendly to use less water, more recycled products, less fuel, more locally produced goods … the list goes on. By the end of 2018, you’ll be living a fully green lifestyle — the first step is starting now.
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