Some of the best ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency may be obvious, such as picking out the most efficient windows, doors, and lighting fixtures. Others, such as geothermal heating and cooling systems are less well-known and require more research. Let’s explore 5 major areas of sustainable building to improve your home’s energy efficiency, so you start enjoying the savings on your next utility bill.
#1 Choose Windows and Doors for Energy Efficiency
Windows and doors are areas that are prone to leaks and inefficiencies, so upgrading to energy efficient windows and doors is an easy way to gain points in this category. Windows and doors that provide a good seal against the elements keep you from wasting energy to heat and cool your home. They will retain cooler air during the warmer months, and hang onto warm air during the winter months so you won’t experience any draftiness.
Window technology is a rapidly growing field, and energy efficient windows are becoming increasingly more common and more affordable. Window panes can be constructed with a special glazing to limit heat gain during the summer and heat loss during the winter. Practice sustainable building by paring high quality windows and doors with eco-friendly insulation for the ultimate energy efficiency savings.
#2 Buy Energy Efficient Appliances
Energy efficient home appliances use only as much water and electricity as is necessary to get the job done. They can include things like washers and dryers, dishwashers, and even smaller appliances like microwaves, electric kettles, toasters, and food processors. Many efficient appliances also have settings or features designed for optimal power with minimal energy usage.
Gas vs. Electric Stoves
Gas stoves use fuel more efficiently than electric stoves, and many cooks claim that food prepared with gas tastes more flavorful. However, the way the fuel used in gas stoves is harvested is known to threaten public health and water quality, as well as increase the effects of climate change. If you do choose gas for its energy efficiency benefits, be sure to maximize your use of small amounts of energy by using appropriate-size flames, choosing a stove with an electric pilot, or other sustainable cooking methods. If you have an electric stove, you may be able to offset your emissions by using renewable energy sources such as solar or wind-generated power.
#3 Sustainable Building Heating and Cooling Options
Did you know you can design your home with certain features to control how warm and cool your home is, naturally? Strategic window placement, insulation and ventilation, and using a light-colored roof to deflect sunlight are all passive ways to make the most of nature’s heating and cooling cycles. Sustainable heating and cooling technology, such as geothermal or solar energy, is an active way to generate green energy to power heat and cool your home.
Geothermal Heating and Cooling
Geothermal energy works by taking the earth’s natural ability to regulate and maintain a stable temperature below the surface to heat or cool the home. During the winter, the geothermal well uses a heat pump to absorb heat from the earth and uses it to warm your home. During the summer, the pump’s water is cooled by the earth and distributes that cooler air throughout your home.
Solar and Wind Energy Efficiency
You can use solar energy to power your home’s heating and cooling systems. Solar roof technology has vastly improved in recent years. Rather than the unsightly solar arrays with exposed wires above your roof, panels can be incorporated with your roof’s structure to where they are hardly noticeable. Solar energy is very efficient, and you can even combine panels with a battery to store energy for use throughout the winter.
Wind energy can also be harnessed to power your home. You don’t have to install a giant wind turbine to enjoy the benefits of this renewable energy. Wind turbines can be as small as a pint glass and still provide useful energy to power your home’s water heater or air conditioning.
If you invest in renewable energy technologies, you may be eligible for tax rebates from your state, which can provide significant kickbacks year after year. Some homes are able to conserve enough energy and generate their own through renewable sources that they can achieve net zero status, and not rely on the power grid at all.
#4 Best Water-Saving Fixtures
One of the most wasted resources in a home is its water. From leaky faucets, to lengthy showers, and even overcompensating flushes, it’s too easy to use too much. Here are a few of the best water-saving fixtures you can put in your home build:
- New, efficient toilets use less water per flush, saving many gallons of water every day. Two-flush toilets use different pressure and amounts of water for liquid and solid waste.
- Bathroom faucets with reduced flow rates can use 30% less water without a noticeable difference for daily tasks of washing your hands or brushing your teeth.
- If you want a greater output for the kitchen sink will need more output, an efficient sink can give you the water flow you need without wasting excess water.
- Water-saving shower heads increase pressure through aeration, so less water is needed to achieve the same effect.
New plumbing and fixtures will help your home’s overall energy efficiency. Still, keep an eye on faucets for drips, as even small leaks add up and become wasteful.
#5 Lighting and Energy Efficiency
About 5% of your energy budget goes into lighting your home. If you use light bulbs and fixtures that are more efficient, you can save a lot of energy but enjoy the same amount of light. Energy-saving light bulbs are not just limited to bright blue LEDs. Nowadays, there are many types of bulbs in the colors and brightness of your choosing that can save you money on your energy bills. Halogen incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescent bulbs, and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are a little more expensive than older, less efficient bulbs, but they’ll save you money overall because of their increased efficiency and durability.
Smart Home Energy Efficiency Technology
Using technology to accompany your lighting makes your home smarter and saves energy. Auto-off features can detect when you’re not in the room and curb wasteful usage. High-tech homeowners can even program a lighting schedule to control which lights are dimmed and turned on and off throughout the day. You’ll see ahead of time what your energy usage will be, and can adjust the lights in your home to be the most efficient. New technologies for smart homes are available all the time, and can not only significantly increase your home’s energy efficiency, but also your home’s value.
At Couch Mountain, sustainable living is our goal, and energy efficiency is how we get there. All of the homes in our community are built using green methods and materials, and incorporate energy efficient technology wherever possible! Homes in our neighborhood have the ability to reach net zero utilities. To learn more about life in our sustainable community, reach out to us today.
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