For our last tip on the 12 Days of Energy Savings we encourage our readers to take on other energy efficiency projects of their own. We have highlighted a dozen ideas for you here. But you know your home best, and based on that knowledge, and the advice from a qualified home energy assessor, you know best what projects to tackle. If you are not certain about doing a big project, try tackling some smaller or easier projects first. Sometimes smaller, easier projects can result in significant savings. Everyone can do things like changing out old incandescent bulbs and fixtures for LED products. We also have some great DIY projects for you to try on the Energy Saver site. But you do not have to do projects yourself. If you do not have the confidence or ability to tackle a project on your own bring in a professional to make sure the job is done correctly. We bet that when you see the savings from taking steps to upgrade your home you will want to take on greater projects for even greater savings. That is our holiday present to you – a comfortable, affordable, and efficient home.
When you're shopping for appliances, think of two price tags. The first one covers the purchase price. The second price tag is the cost of operating the appliance during its lifetime. The more efficient the appliance (the second cost), the quicker the purchase price (the first cost) pays for itself.
To more quickly help offset the initial cost of an appliance, consider labels and features that can help ensure that you purchase appliances with a low operating cost.
THE ENERGY STAR® LABEL
First, look for the ENERGY STAR® label on appliances, as well as electronics, windows, hot water heaters and other energy consumer products. This assures you that it’s among the top efficient models.
The ENERGY STAR logo is on all qualified products that meet specific standards for energy efficiency, and usually exceed minimum federal standards by a substantial amount. For instance, ENERGY STAR clothes washers clean clothes use nearly 35% less water and 25% less energy than standard washers. ENERGY STAR clothes dryers use 20% less energy than conventional models.
THE ENERGYGUIDE LABEL
Most appliances display the bright yellow and black EnergyGuide label to help you figure out whether an appliance is energy efficient. Although these labels will not show you which appliance is the most efficient on the market, they will show you the annual energy consumption and operating cost for each appliance so you can compare them yourself.
Energy efficient windows are an important consideration for both new and existing homes. Heat gain and heat loss through windows are responsible for 25%–30% of residential heating and cooling energy use.
If your existing windows are in good condition, taking steps to improve their efficiency to reduce their energy loss may be the most cost-effective option to make your home more comfortable and save you money on energy bills.
There are several things you can do to improve the efficiency of your existing windows:
- Check existing windows for air leaks
- Caulk and weatherstrip. Check out our do-it-yourself project to learn how to weatherstrip double-hung windows.
- Add energy efficient window coverings
- Add storm windows or panels
- Add solar control film
- Add exterior shading, such as awnings, exterior blinds, overhangs, and landscaping.
If you decide to replace your windows, you will have to make several decisions about the type of windows you purchase and the type of replacement you will make.
it's important to choose the most efficient windows you can afford that work best in your climate.
You will also need to decide what features you want in your windows. You will need to decide on the following:
- Frame types
- Glazing type
- Gas fills and spacers
- Operation types
Visit the Window Types page for more information on all of these options.
It's hard to believe, but Christmas is less than a week away. If you have not yet started decorating your home you still have a chance to buy LED light strings for your interior holiday lighting. LED (or light emitting diode) light strings can use 90% less energy than regular incandescent light strings. They also last about ten times longer, are far cooler (thus reducing fire hazards), and are more durable. Many of them have programming features that allow a lot of creativity when making displays.
If you have already decorated your home and do not yet have LED lights for your holiday decorations, take advantage of last minute or after Christmas shopping deals to set yourself up for next year’s Christmas decorating.
Heat pumps offer an energy-efficient alternative to furnaces and air conditioners for all climates. Heat pumps use electricity to transfer heat from a cool space to a warm space, making the cool space cooler and the warm space warmer. During the heating season, heat pumps move heat from the cool outdoors into your warm house. During the cooling season, heat pumps move heat from your house into the outdoors. Because they transfer heat rather than generate heat, heat pumps can efficiently provide comfortable temperatures for your home. Learn more by going to the Energy Saver Heat Pump page.
Many people do not think of landscaping as having anything to do with the efficiency of a home. But landscaping can have a measurable impact on a home's energy performance. The strategic placement of deciduous trees, for example, can help keep your home warm in the winter months by letting sun into the home, and cooler in the summer by shading portions of a home and its windows. And properly placed windbreaks can save up to 25 percent on heating costs. Learn more on Energy Saver's landscaping pages.
The first step toward an energy efficient home is a home energy assessment, sometimes referred to as a home energy audit. A home energy assessment is a yardstick to measure your home’s performance, and is necessary to understanding how you and your home use energy and where improvements can be made.
A professional home energy assessment is arguably the best way to determine your home’s efficiency. Energy assessments must be thorough and properly conducted, and a professional in the field can offer assurance that everything is accounted for and thought through. Even though professionals tend to do such inspections in person, remote energy assessments have become more popular because of pandemic concerns. Remote inspections will require you to walk through the house with a tablet or smart phone while the assessor is online with you.
However, you can conduct your own "do-it-yourself" home assessment by doing a simple but diligent walk-through and spot many problems in any type of house. While not be as thorough as a professional home energy assessment, it can pinpoint some of the easier areas to address.
Whether you hire a professional or do it yourself, start any energy efficiency upgrades with a home assessment. You will be glad you did.
When it is cold we cover up with a blanket and get all snuggly warm. Well, think of insulation as a home’s blanket. If it is cold outside the insulation works to keep the warmth inside, or in the case of warm weather, it keeps the warmth outside and cooler temperatures inside. Insulation cannot work by itself to make for an energy efficient home. As mentioned previously, any leaks or cracks need to be filled with weatherstripping or caulking or the insulation cannot do its part. But with a properly sealed home, insulation keeps your home comfortable for less money. Look at the variety of Energy Saver insulation pages for more information.
Many of the tips being shared this 12 Days of Energy Savings come down to weatherization.
Weatherizing your home by sealing cracks, insulating, controlling moisture, and ventilating helps you save energy, and thereby save you money. It has the added benefit of improving the comfort of your home.
Learn more at our weatherize page on Energy Saver.
Weatherstripping and caulking is one of the most effective energy efficient upgrades for a home, especially if the home is older or drafty.
Weatherstripping and caulking leaky windows, doors, and air ducts will keep the elements outside where they belong, will help make your home comfortable, and will help you save money on your energy bill. It is also one of the simpler energy efficient tasks to tackle.
Do you want to be like the Griswold’s and have the best outdoor decorations in your neighborhood? Here’s two energy-saving pro-tips to make certain your decorations to not eat away at your money for Christmas gifts.
- Use LEDs for your holiday lighting
- Add timers so that your displays automatically turn off in the daytime.
For more information on energy efficient lighting options go to our Lighting Choices page. #12DaysofEnergySavings
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