energy efficient home updates (photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/deanhochman/)

Energy efficiency at home is important. It conserves precious resources, and better yet, saves you money. Big changes like solar power, a new HVAC system, tank less water heater, or updated energy efficient appliances will have a dramatic impact on your home’s efficiency, but even small changes can add up to a big difference.

Have a spare weekend — or even just an hour? These energy efficient home update projects can be completed quickly. The best part: they’re all DIY and well within the skill level of the average home owner. They’re affordable, too. There’s no excuse for skipping these easy to complete, easy to pay for home efficiency projects that you can knock out this weekend.

  1. Program your thermostat: Most homes today have a programmable thermostat, but not everyone uses them to their full advantage. Set a schedule, keeping your home cool or warm only when you’ll be home and need it to be a comfortable temperature. You should also consider making your home slightly cooler or warmer when you’re home, as just a single degree one way or the other can make a big difference in energy use. Don’t have a programmable thermostat yet? Get one! Better yet, invest in a learning thermostat that will recognize your patterns and adjust your temperature for you automatically.
  2. Find drafts and leaks: Even tiny leaks can make a big difference in your home’s energy efficiency and performance. Look for leaks around windows and doors, covering them up with caulking or weather stripping.
  3. Update insulation in your attic: Many American homes don’t have enough insulation, even though it’s so important to keeping your house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. You can add more or better insulation to your attic easily, as rolls of insulation are available at hardware stores and simple to install with household tools.
  4. Insulate hot water pipes: Keep going with insulation and add insulation to your water pipes. Pipes exposed to cold air can lose water temperature and efficiency. Simply wrap your pipes to see energy savings on the fuel used to heat water.
  5. Insulate your hot water tank: Another great way to insulate for efficiency is on your hot water heater tank itself. Older hot water tanks may not be insulated enough, resulting in standby heat losses that can get expensive. Look for a pre cut jacket or blanket to get more efficient hot water and save money.
  6. Repair duct leaks: Air ducts move hot or cold air through your home, but leaks in air ducts steal this conditioned air and make your HVAC system less efficient. It’s easy to fix this problem. All you’ll need is duct tape and some time to identify and patch up the leaks.
  7. Switch to low flow plumbing fixtures: Low flow fixtures can be added throughout your home to significantly reduce water consumption. Change out sink hardware, toilets, and shower heads to low flow options.
  8. Pick up some compact fluorescent light bulbs: Compact fluorescent light bulbs are more efficient and last longer than incandescent ones. You don’t need to switch out every light bulb in your house right away, as that would be wasteful, but go ahead and grab some compact fluorescent bulbs at the hardware store so you’ll be ready when your incandescents burn out and need to be replaced.
  9. Add a ceiling fan: Ceiling fans help improve the air flow and cooling efficiency in your home, saving you money and keeping your home cooler. They are easy to install and can be found affordably at hardware stores.
  10. Turn off power sucking devices with a power strip: Even when you turn them off, devices and small appliances still leech power from your outlets. That means your cell phone charger, TV, and toaster are costing you energy even if you’re not using them right now. An easy way to fix this problem is to simply unplug them when you’re done. Or, if you have a few devices or appliances grouped together that you can turn off, plug them all into a power strip that you can switch off when not in use.
  11. Lower your water heating temperature: Most hot water heaters can be turned up to temperatures much higher than the average household really needs. This wastes energy and can even be dangerous if your water reaches scalding temperatures. Experts recommend setting
    your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  12. Replace air filters: Air filters need to be replaced regularly to keep your air conditioning system running smoothly. An HVAC that has to push air through dirty filters will work much harder and less efficiently than one with clean filters. Replace your filters to make it easier on your air conditioner.
  13. Plant a tree: What’s better for the Earth than planting a tree? Adding a shade tree to your home can help you save energy. Find a deciduous tree that will block the sun from warming your home in the summer, then lose leaves to let the sun keep your house warm in the winter. Shade trees are most effective on the west side of homes.
  14. Clean your dryer vent: You may clean the lint trap every time you use the dryer, but how is your dryer vent looking? A clogged dryer vent makes it more difficult for your clothes to get dry, costing valuable efficiency and energy. It’s also a potential fire hazard. Vacuum out your dryer vent to keep things clean and running efficiently.
  15. Add curtains or blinds: If you don’t have effective window coverings, get them. Using curtains or blinds, you can block out sunshine and keep it from heating up your home in the summer. In the winter, thick curtains can keep your home warmer, stopping cold air before it reaches your living area.
  16. Add a rain barrel: With a rain barrel, you’ll be able to collect rain water. This water can be used on your lawn, in your garden, and more, helping you save on water consumption. Rain barrels hook up with your existing gutter system, so they are easy to install.
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