Improve Heating and Cooling
At a whopping 42 percent, space heating drives the majority of home energy use. Luckily, some small changes in the ways we heat and cool our homes can greatly impact our emissions.
Let seasonal temperatures guide the way
Turn thermostats down five degrees during winter days and 10 degrees (to 55˚F at night) before going to sleep or leaving the house. In the summer, crank thermostats up five degrees during the day and 10 degrees before bed.
Opt for efficient air conditioners or fans
Programmable thermostats make for maximum efficiency. Avoid over-air conditioning and try open windows, shade trees, and attic fans to beat the heat.
Use an automatic thermostat
Heating homes at a constant temperature is far less efficient than bringing the temperature back to a comfortable point when needed. Automatic or programmable thermostats can cut heating and cooling costs by 20 percent.
Clean and replace furnace filters
A dirty air filter means more work for the blower, so clean filters reduce emissions and costs. Replace your filters regularly and book annual maintenance with an electrician.
Insulate Your Living Space
Air leaking in and out of our homes wastes a lot of energy. Even in reasonably sealed homes, air leaks account for roughly one quarter of the wintertime heat we use.
Conduct a home energy audit
Lower your bills (and your emissions) by learning to read your utility statements and basic appliance information. Where are your electricity dollars going? Utility audits are often free—book one to find out where retrofitting might help.
Seal and wrap your ducts
Hire a contractor to test your ducts—massive problem-areas for lost heat—and issue repairs. $20 or less in weather stripping and caulk can help.
Is air or sunlight creeping out between your door and window frames? Your home might need a better seal or fresh caulking.
A self-check or energy audit can tell you if your home has adequate insulation—few old homes have enough in the attic and basement. Before you insulate, seal heat-escaping places around pipes, wires, and other openings.
Improve Hot Water Efficiency
Using less hot water means you’re using less overall water and energy. Like most home appliances, modern water heaters have become much more energy-efficient.
Buy the most energy-efficient model
Consider an on-demand water heater—or better yet, a solar unit—that only heats water when you need it.
Turn the thermostat to 120°F
Use a faucet thermometer to check your water heater setting.
Insulate the water heater tank and pipes
Follow the manufacturer’s insulation recommendations. Target the first five feet of pipe from the heater for maximum savings.
Install low-flow showerheads and faucets
We pay for water three times—once to buy it from a utility, once to heat it using natural gas or electricity, and once to dispose of it as wastewater. Using less saves money and reduces emissions.
Wash and clean with cold water
Clean as much as possible—including laundry!—with cold water to save the energy, money, and emissions involved in heating water.