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Go Green: Making Your Home Energy-efficient

Energy efficiency continues to be a hot topic in the past decade as more and more people push for more sustainable ways to slow climate change and its impact. According to Renewable Energy World, a group of Renewable Energy professionals, energy efficiency choices have increased, with federal programs helping high-efficiency devices reach more people and state codes bolstering building efficiency.

There seems to be a consensus, however, that switching to green living is more expensive than a conventional lifestyle. This doesn’t have to be the case as there are many ways that you can do to save energy. Start embracing an energy-efficient lifestyle with these simple tips:

Work on your heating and cooling

Cut down on home heating and cooling costs while keeping your home warm during winter and cool during summer by air sealing your home. You can start by sealing all gaps, leaks, and cracks. Use insulated roof panels or ceilings, draught-proof your windows and doors, close all external windows and doors, and seal the chimney with a damper.

When expecting a cold day, start heating your home early instead of waiting until it is cold. Similarly, turn on the air conditioner early when expecting a hot day. You can also install ceiling fans to help with cooling when it is not too hot instead of using the air conditioner every day.

Consider also to use blinds and night curtains to shade your windows. This will help your home retain the heat during colder months and keep the heat out during warmer weather.

Be mindful of your power consumption choices

Turn off the lights when not in use, and unplug the TV, washing machines, microwave ovens, computers, printers, gaming consoles, phone chargers, and other appliances and gadgets instead of putting them on standby mode. The Department of Industry, Innovation, and Science in Australia estimates that leaving appliances on standby mode costs the average Australian home almost $100 a year and contributes more than 1000 kilograms of greenhouse gases to the environment. Only turn on your electronics when you need them.

Change your lightbulbs to LED

LED light bulbs are a popular choice these days because they produce light approximately 90 percent more efficiently than incandescent light bulbs, helping households save on their daily lighting costs. So if you haven’t made the switch yet to LED, what are you waiting for?

LED stands for light-emitting diode. According to EnergyStar, LED lighting is more efficient, more versatile, and lasts longer compared with incandescent light bulbs and compact fluorescent light (CFL), because LEDs emit light in a specific direction. This means that LEDs can use light and energy more efficiently in a multitude of applications. In contrast, incandescent light bulbs and CFL emit light and heat in all directions.

Use natural lighting

Use natural light when possible or stick to daylighting. Daylighting involves using sunlight to light a building. This effect is achieved by placing windows, skylights, other openings, and reflective surfaces so that natural light can provide adequate internal lighting. If this is a bit too much for you, consider replacing your windows first. If your home has single-pane windows, replace them with bigger, energy-efficient windows to let more sunlight into your home. This will help significantly in reducing the need for artificial lighting.

Follow your manufacturer’s instructions for refrigerators and freezers

Manufacturers usually recommend a specific temperature setting for refrigerators and freezers. If you are not aware of this, review your appliance manual to determine the correct temperature setting for your appliance, and avoid excessive cooling. You must defrost your refrigerator and freezer regularly, too, to keep them running smoothly. Waiting for the ice buildup to thicken up to a quarter inch is a no-no. Lastly, keep them as full as possible because they run more efficiently when full. Be careful about overfilling them, though, because this tends to reduce airflow and makes the appliance work harder, resulting in more energy consumption.

Choose energy-saving appliances

Setting the room temperature on a modern programmable thermostat

We often look at price, functionality, and look when buying the right appliance for our homes, but it is also essential to know if these are energy-efficient. Save hundreds of dollars per year by knowing which appliance manufacturers produce government-certified appliances. Check out EnergyStar’s list of the most efficient products from dishwashers and refrigerators to dehumidifiers, furnaces, and air conditioners.

Choosing an energy-efficient lifestyle does not have to be complicated, expensive, or extensive. Whether you want to go the extra mile by remodeling your home or investing in more sophisticated energy efficiency systems is up to you, but remember that being mindful of our product choices and day-to-day energy consumption behaviors already contribute to reducing our carbon footprint and saving the environment. A few lifestyle changes here and there can go a long way.

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