11 Simple Steps to Make Your Home More Efficient

11 Simple Steps to Make Your Home More EfficientWith the wholesale price of natural gas more than doubling since August 2021, the cost to heat homes in the Denver metro area is also increasing. Since natural gas is used to help generate electricity, rising wholesale gas pricing also affects electric bills.

In addition to the inherent environmental concerns, we now have all the more reason to keep our homes as energy-efficient as possible. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take right now for that purpose.

1. Take Care of Your Furnace

An annual maintenance checkup for your furnace is essential. By keeping it in peak operating condition, you’ll use less energy, avoid expensive breakdowns, and prolong the life of your system. In-between service calls, change your filters at least every three months or more often if you have pets, dust-producing hobbies, or are undertaking any home renovations.

2. Wrap Your Water Heater

Reducing heat loss from the water heater tank can substantially reduce energy usage. Wrap your hot water tank in an insulated blanket to keep in the heat. Check the temperature setting on your water heater. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends 120 degrees Fahrenheit; if yours is set higher, consider turning it down. Alternatively, think about switching to a tankless water heater that only produces hot water on demand.

3. Let the Sunshine In

On sunny days, open drapes and shades to take advantage of the thermal heating energy provided by sunlight. It may not seem like much, but it does add up over time.

4. Seal Your Ductwork

If you have central heating and air conditioning, hot air can escape through joints in the ductwork. Applying brush-on sealant or heating-vent tape to visible joints will reduce or even eliminate this problem.

5. Test Your Windows and Doors

Did you know that leaky windows and doors cause an estimated 20-30% heat loss in the typical home? Hold a lit candle near the window and door frames to test for airtight seals. If it flickers, you have a draft (leaky seal). This can often be resolved by caulking around the frames or installing weatherstripping or a door sweep. Over the long run, consider replacing your current windows or doors with new, energy-efficient styles.

6. Use Ceiling Fans

When you want to cool down a particular area of your home more than the entire house, ceiling fans do a great job. Switching your fans to the “reverse” option temporarily during the winter months will help push hot air down into the room, helping you feel warmer at a lower thermostat setting.

7. Operate Large Appliances in “Off” Hours

If your home is on time-of-use (TOU) electrical rates, always run your dishwasher, clothes washer, and clothes dryer in the evenings, overnight, and on weekends. Set the drying cycle on your dishwasher to “heat dry” only when needed, as opposed to being the default setting. Think about whether your clothes can get just as clean on a shorter cycle.

8. Keep Large Appliances Dust-Free

The motors of large appliances like clothes dryers and refrigerators have to work harder (and use more energy) when they get dusty. Make it a habit to vacuum the backs of these appliances a few times each year.

9. Use “Smart” Thermostats, Dimmers, Motion Sensors

Smart thermostats can reduce heating and cooling costs by 15%. These devices learn your habits and adjust your thermostat automatically. For example, if you go to bed at 11:00 PM and always turn down the thermostat, your smart thermostat will detect the pattern and start doing it automatically. The thermostat can also be programmed to adjust settings at certain times, and you can control it from afar using a mobile app.

Installing dimmers and motion sensors will ensure that your indoor and outdoor lighting fixtures only use the energy truly needed.

10. Unplug “Always On” Appliances and Chargers

Countertop appliances, TVs, cable boxes, DVRs, and game consoles are designed to be “always on” so they can respond immediately when you flip the switch. This uses a significant amount of electricity unnecessarily. Plug these devices into a programmable power strip that switches off at night and watch your electricity bills reduce all but immediately.

Also, chargers draw power even when no device is attached. Once you’ve finished charging your phone or tablet, remove the charger from the socket.

11. Schedule an Energy Audit

Consider taking matters further by scheduling an energy audit through your power company. Often, utility companies offer energy-saving upgrades and products that can be paid for over time as part of your power bill.

Count on Our Experience

Your wallet and our planet will thank you for following the above tips! Indoor Air Quality, Inc. has served Highlands Ranch and the Denver Metro Area for over 20 years. For HVAC service, maintenance, installation, and repair contact us or use our online contact form for more information and a free quote.