What are the key issues associated with decreasing your home's energy consumption?
Improving the energy efficiency of your home reduces the amount of energy you need to use to keep it warm or cool.
The highest amount of home energy consumption is done
by your home’s heating, ventilation, and air
conditioning (HVAC) systems.
- An easy, low-cost way to increase efficiency in your HVAC system is to clean or replace your furnace’s air filter on a monthly basis.
- Annual checkups of your HVAC system by a professional are also an easy way to maintain the appliance’s efficiency.
- A programmable thermostat has a moderate upfront cost but can save around $150 annually by automatically adjusting your thermostat to energy-saving temperatures while you are not home.
- Maintaining your system’s ductwork is an easy way to ensure overall efficiency.
- Updating these systems with Energy Star-rated appliances can have a significant initial cost but will end up saving you money on your utility bills.
- In addition to saving money on your utility bills, you may qualify for tax credits when you purchase energy efficient appliances.
Additional low-cost methods for reducing your home’s energy consumption:
- Clean the refrigerator coils; remove frost from freezers
- Keep lights clean; shut off when not in use
- Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents
- Leave your south-facing windows’ curtains open in winter and closed in summer to collect or prevent solar heat gain
- Install insulators behind electrical outlets
- Re-level your blown-in attic insulation
- Insulate attic access door
- Set ceiling fans in up-flow mode
- Insulate water heater and set its thermostat to 120 degrees
- Use weatherstripping around windows and doors
Additional moderate to significant upfront cost methods for saving energy include:
- Add insulation to walls and ceiling
- Replace / add ventilation systems
- Replace doors and windows with Energy Star-rated models
It can be helpful to do a home energy audit to determine your household’s current energy use.
For additional information please refer to this Housing feature article: Take steps to offset soaring heating costs.
Barbara Buffaloe, Architectural Studies, College of Human Environmental Studies, University of Missouri-Columbia
Last update: Monday, May 18, 2009