When you think about ways to make your home more energy efficient, your first thought may be of alternative energy options like solar panels, which can eliminate your electric bills entirely, supposing you live in an area that enjoys sunlight year-round. But while sustainable energy options like solar, wind, water, and geothermal power are certainly incredible when it comes to monetary savings over time, they also cost a pretty penny to install up-front. This could put them beyond the reach of many homeowners looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint and save a little dough in the process. As it turns out, though, you don’t have to dive into the deep end in order to wet your feet with energy efficient upgrades. Here are just a few products that won’t cost you an arm and a leg when it comes to making your home more energy efficient and lowering your monthly bills along the way.
CFLs. Let’s just call energy efficient lighting the gateway to green living. If you want to see some savings immediately without major up-front expense, replacing your standard, incandescent light bulbs is a great way to test the waters of eco-friendly home upgrades. These revolutionary bulbs cost slightly more than traditional products, but they use only about a third of the energy for the same relative wattage of light, and they can last up to ten times as long. Even if you pay double up front, you’re going to save a lot in the long run. Plus, CFLs are designed to work with your regular lighting fixtures, so you don’t have to spend extra to install new lights in order to begin enjoying the money-saving benefits of these modern, efficient bulbs.
Energy Star appliances. Okay, so appliances are by no means cheap. But if it’s time to replace your fridge, stove, or washer/dryer combo anyway, why not consider upgrading to products that bear the Energy Star seal of approval? These products are comparably priced to your regular fare, but the fact that they operate more efficiently could result in significant savings on your monthly electric bill, especially when you swap out your fridge (which tends to be the biggest offender where energy use is concerned).
Tankless water heater. This is a relatively new option for homeowners, and you might be surprised to discover just how much of an impact it can have on your home. For one thing, your oversized tank will be replaced by a box a fraction of the size, freeing up some space where your 50-gallon tank used to reside. In addition, however, the coil is designed to heat water on demand, meaning you’ll never again have to pay to keep a tank full of water hot even when you’re not using it.
Weather stripping. Although adding weather stripping to windows and doors may not save you tons of money like other products, it can make a difference when it comes to regulating your interior temperature and stopping the bought air from leaking outside. And considering you can get enough to insulate at least one door for less than $5 at your local hardware store, it’s a pretty cheap fix.
Programmable thermostat. One of the most common heating and cooling FAQs that homeowners have is how to set their programmable thermostat for optimum savings. While this product can certainly help to lower your energy bill, it only works if you use it appropriately. Luckily, the Department of Energy offers some guidelines. Your system should be set to go no lower than 78 degrees in the summer and no higher than 68 degrees in the winter, for starters. From there, you should program your thermostat to adjust the temperature by 10-15 degrees when you’re not at home (during the day, for example, when you’re at work and the kids are at school). This could save you 5-15% or more on your average electric bill.