24 Tips for Energy Efficient Homes

A slideshow of 24 ways to save energy in your home

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A pretty living room with a fireplace and drop ceiling
Sustainable Living Home Design

    Fuel prices have soared. Electric rates are volatile. And it's hard to ignore the economic and market uncertainties in the leading oil-producing countries. In the wake of all this, "energy efficient" is becoming more than just a buzzword; it's a way of life for a growing number of homeowners who embrace sustainable living. It is possible to trim costs without significantly affecting your lifestyle—check out these 24 smart ideas for saving energy in your home.

Seal and Insulate

    Heating and cooling costs account for 45 percent of the average home's energy tab. Seal gaps and cracks in your attic and basement and around windows and doors, and make sure your home insulation levels meet or exceed your local codes.

Buy Energy Efficient Products

    Look for the Energy Star label when you're shopping for home items. More than 40 product categories feature the label, including major appliances and light fixtures.

Maintain Equipment

    Call a licensed expert to check your heating and cooling systems annually. If they're not working properly, you will spend more on energy and, potentially, repair costs. Remember to replace your air filter regularly, too.

Tighten Your Ductwork

    Remove any duct tape from your air-duct joints and seal them instead with duct mastic (a water-base acrylic sealer).

Program Your Thermostat

    A programmable thermostat can save you more than $100 a year in energy costs by helping you avoid unneeded heating or cooling while you're away from home or sleeping. One option is a VisionPRO touch-screen Honeywell thermostat.

Get Tax Credits

    Get a tax credit while you're saving energy dollars. You can receive up to $500 for using Energy Star windows, skylights, or storm doors, or adding home insulation, weather stripping, or caulk.

Landscape to Save Energy

    Landscaping can help save energy. Plant deciduous trees on the south and west sides of your house. In summer, the leaves will shade your house; in winter, the bare branches will let the sun through for added warmth.

Add a Ceiling Fan

    Ceiling fans are a great way to conserve electricity year-round. They are economical and efficient, and they use about the same amount of energy as a 100-watt light bulb. In summer, set your fan to spin counterclockwise, then set your thermostat a few degrees higher to save as much as 40 percent on your cooling bills. In winter, switch fan blades to spin clockwise and save up to 10 percent on your heating bills.

Identify Energy-Efficient Appliances

    Find out if you own energy hogs by monitoring how much energy your appliances use. A Watts-Up or Kill-a-Watt meter can determine how much power appliances use.

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Use Outdoor CFLs

    Because compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are rated differently than incandescent light bulbs, divide the wattage of the incandescent bulb by four to determine the CFL wattage you should use.

Use CFLs Inside, Too

    Gone are the buzzing bulbs that cast a sickly glow over faces. Today's compact fluorescent light bulbs are available in more than 200 colors, and they're quiet. These fluorescent lights use one-fifth to one-third the electricity of a comparably bright incandescent bulb—and last 10-20 times longer. When you consider that lighting accounts for one-fifth of a home's electric bill, CFLs are close to being a no-brainer.

Modify Your Most-Used Lighting

    By replacing your home's five most frequently used light fixtures or the light bulbs in them with Energy Star-qualified models, you can save about $60 each year in energy costs. Start with your outdoor porch light, the kitchen ceiling fixture, living room lamps, and the bathroom vanity.

Change Least-Used Lightbulbs

    You probably don't need 100-watt bulbs in closets or a guest bedroom. Downgrade these and other less-used lights to 60-watt or even 40-watt bulbs.

Switch a Light Switch

    A dimmer switch lets you reduce lighting when you don't need it, and occupancy sensors turn lights off after you leave a room.

Install Skylights

    Use daylight whenever possible. Install skylights in rooms with no windows. During the day, you might not need to turn on a light.

Make the Most of Exterior Lighting

    Motion sensors save energy, and you get affordable security that never rests.

Think Long-Term

    Energy efficient appliances may cost more up front, but they will pay for themselves over time.

Grab a Paintbrush

    Light paint colors on walls and ceilings reflect more light, making rooms brighter and reducing the need for high-wattage light bulbs.

Wash with Cold Water

    That "hot water for whites" laundry rule is bunk. Use cold water and a cold-water detergent, and save.

Dry Full Loads

    Use your laundry dryer's full load capacity or you'll blow hot air—and your dollars—out the vent.

Air-Dry Dishes

    Save money and energy: Don't use the heat-dry setting on your dishwasher.

Match Pans to Burners

    A 6-inch pot on an 8-inch stove burner wastes more than 40 percent of the burner's heat.

Limit Bath Time

    A seven-minute shower with a 2.5-gallon-per-minute showerhead uses less water—and heat—than a full bath.

Buy Local

    Choose Earth-friendly products that used the minimum amount of energy to get to you. Consider that tile shipped from Italy travels halfway around the world; tile shipped from a local company uses much less energy as it moves from its source to you.

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