17 Tips to Make Your Home Energy-Efficient

This month’s electrical bill is painful for you to look at, just as you’ve expected. You’ve been using up a lot of energy for a while, especially with temperatures rising year after year. It’s lovely to have a well designed home. It’s even more wonderful to have a home that is both beautiful and energy-efficient. You can spend less on heating and cooling bills while remaining comfortable, and you can cut down on your carbon footprint, too. To help you get started, here are 17 steps to help you save energy.

 

17 Tips for a More Energy-Efficient Home

 

1. Change Your Most-Used Light Bulbs to LEDs. They might cost more at first, but they last much longer and use up less electrical power than their incandescent counterparts. You’ll save yourself the effort of having to purchase replacement lights as well. For outdoor lights, use CFLs instead of incandescent lamps.

2. Change Your Least-Used Light Bulbs, Too. Will you need a 100-watt bulb in a room that’s used just once a year? Downgrade such less-used lights to 60-watt or even 40-watt bulbs to save energy.

3. Use Cold Water for Laundry. This eliminates the need for a water heater. If you really need to use hot water, try to find a heater that runs on solar power.

4. Baking? Don’t Peek! The temperature drops 25° F whenever you peek. Your oven will have to work harder to bring the temperature back up.

5. When Possible, Unplug or Power Down. Your mobile phone only takes a few hours to charge, and your computer and printer don’t have to be left on all day, either.

6. Wash Dishes and Clothes at Night. Power grids are most strained during 4PM and 6PM during peak usage hours, from mid-afternoon to early in the evening. Do your washing a bit later, and you can keep the house cooler and avoid emergencies as well.

7. Switch Out Single-Pane Windows. Either replace them with more energy-efficient windows or add solar shades or tinting film to them.

8. Turn Off the Oven Early. Do this a few minutes before reaching the prescribed cooking time. Don’t worry, your food will continue cooking from its own heat.

9. Use Natural Light When Possible. For windowless rooms, you can use skylights. You may no longer need to turn on any lights during daytime.

10. Seal and Insulate Properly. Cracks and gaps can lessen the efficiency of your heating and cooling, raising energy costs by 45 percent. Avoid this by sealing gaps and cracks in rooms and around windows and doors. Also, check how your home insulation levels measure up to local codes.

11. Maintain Clean Filters. Your home systems have to do more work if their filters are dirty. Clean or replace all filters at home once a month (or every three weeks if you have pets or a dusty environment). Use a vacuum with a cleaning extension to suck up dirt, or gently wash the filter with warm water.

12. Spot the Energy Star. This sticker indicates that EPA has confirmed the product’s energy efficiency. You can find the small blue or black sticker on over 40 product categories, from refrigerators and washing machines to LED lightbulbs.

13. Use Your Shades Well. Help your heating and cooling systems out by knowing when to close or open your shades and blinds. Close your shades during warmer months for cooler indoor temperatures; open them during cooler months to let sunlight through.

14. Landscape. Deciduous trees act like shades and blinds if they sit on the south and west sides of your house. Their leaves provide shade in the summer but fall off so that the sun can come through in the winter.

15. Install Ceiling Fans. A single fan uses roughly as much energy as a 100-watt light bulb, but it can help you cut down even more on cooling and heating bills. Set your fan to spin counterclockwise in summer–you’ll find that you can comfortably set the thermostat 4°F higher. Switch the blades to spin clockwise in winter to help circulate warm air.

16. Don’t Overuse the Thermostat. Try to not lower your thermostat so much in the summer or raise it so much in the winter. If your indoor temperature is closer to outdoor temperatures, your systems will have lighter work to do. Also, don’t adjust past the desired temperature–your home will heat or cool at the same speed.

17. Paint! Brighten your room with lighter paint colors, which reflect more light. You can then switch the light bulb for a lower-wattage equivalent.

You might not notice the impact immediately, as some of these changes seem minor. However, just as a leaky faucet leads to a bigger water bill, the result of these actions builds up over time. Make efforts to go by these 17 tips, and you’ll save more energy than you thought you would.

Visit our blog regularly for tips on improving your home.

Your Seasonal Home Maintenance Checklist

Owning a house is everyone’s dream. But aside from the privilege it comes with, having a place to call you own also comes with a huge responsibility.

Similar to oil changes to keep your car engine in its prime condition and regular exercise to maintain optimal health, maintaining your home is necessary to keep it in its best shape. What’s more, doing so can even save you on repair costs and keep you from future headaches.

Sadly, the idea of needing to accomplish a long list of tasks can be overwhelming – and there’s no denying it. But, having the right set of maintenance tips can still help you navigate through it. In fact,you don’t even need much experience to get the most of them done.

To help you stay on top of your home maintenance tasks, we created a seasonal home maintenance checklist that schedules what needs to be updated, repaired and cleaned depending on the time of year. It also outlines a handful of tasks that needs to be done in a monthly, quarterly, biennial and annual bases.   

Monthly Home Maintenance

The following tasks need to be done on a monthly basis to keep your home in excellent condition:

Replace HVAC filters. Replacing the filters monthly may not always be necessary. If the filters are dirty, change them out. Otherwise, inspect them again next month.

Flush out drains. There are many ways to do this, but probably the best all-around solution is a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. Here’s an easy-to-follow tutorial.

Clean garbage disposal. The baking soda and vinegar solution works as well in cleaning your garbage disposal in the sink. You can also toss in citrus peel to keep them smelling fresh.

Scrub range hood inserts. Soak greasy range hood filters in a boiling water with a degreasing dish soap and baking soda. Scrub the filters, rinse and dry.

Inspect fire extinguishers. Make sure the extinguisher is visible and unobstructed, the locking pin and taper seal is intact, and the gauge still has adequate pressure and has no sign of damage.

Wash refrigerator door seals. Clean rubber seals with warm water, sponge and dish soap to ensure that it completely seals close and keeps the temperature inside regulated.

Vacuum carpets. Vacuum dirty carpets at least once a month and high-traffic areas weekly. It will help maximize the life of the carpet and keep them from looking bad.

Clean dishwasher filter. Keep the filtering screen clean otherwise, it will accumulate food residue that may block the water flow. Consult the manual for cleaning instructions.

Empty dehumidifier – How often you will need to empty your dehumidifier will depend on the climate and how damp your basement is. But, whenever it’s full, empty it.

Disinfect trash bins – Empty and clean trash bins to remove residues that may lodge into the bottom and create a foul smell that attracts insects and pests.

Spring Home Maintenance

Spring is the best time for a general cleaning. Besides giving the house a thorough overhaul, also include the following to your to-do list:

Inspect drainage. If water doesn’t drain away from your home, you may need to check your drainage for buildup or loose connection. You may also need to grade the area to achieve a correct slope.  

Clean gutters. Scoop out debris that accumulated in the fall and winter. Flush the gutter with water to check the flow.

Check for signs of damage. Inspect the exterior of your home for early signs of damage such as paint chipping, leaks, holes or cracks, and make necessary repairs.

Prepare air conditioning systems. Ready your air conditioners for summer. You may refer to the user manual or have it serviced.  

Repair window screens. If there are damages or holes in your window and door screens, have it fixed immediately. Otherwise, bugs and pests can make their way in.

Spring Cleanup. Start by removing any dead plants that survived the winter. Then, trim perennial plants to encourage growth. Lastly, lay down mulch in the flowerbeds to protect them against drought.

Drain heater. Fully drain water heater to remove any sediment that has formed in the bottom. It can help prolong the life of the unit.

Assess windows and doors. Check for any windows or panes that need to be repaired as well as locks and latches that need to be replaced.

Summer Home Maintenance

Summer is a great time to give attention to the outside of your home. Be sure to do the following:

Clean grout. Scrub grout with a paste made with water and baking soda. If it seems a little stained or grimy, you can replace water with hydrogen peroxide to achieve better results.

Inspect plumbing. Check for leaks, water stains and other signs of water damage. Test your toilets, shower and sinks to ensure they’re functioning properly.

Clean faucet and shower head. Remove hard water stains on faucets and shower heads by soaking them in vinegar for an hour. Scrub loosened deposits and rinse.  

Manage pest problem. Insect problems are fairly easy to take care of. Here are some 8 homemade pest control remedies you can try.

Repair patio. Sometimes, your patio merely needs a good clean. But, to be sure, check for any loose boards and repair as needed.

Clean dryer vent. Run the dryer and test whether the exhaust is coming out nicely. Otherwise, you may need to check for blockages yourself or hire a professional.

Check for termite damage. If you suspect your home is infested with termites, you may need to call a professional to inspect your property and do necessary actions.

Fall Home Maintenance

Fall is the time when you’re finishing up on your summer touch-ups and prepare it for the winter at the same time. These are some of the steps you shouldn’t overlook:

Flush water heater. It’s time to flush the water heater again and remove the sediment. As mentioned, it will help improve the efficiency of the unit.

Prepare air conditioners. Store window units or cover them with a plastic sheeting and secure with cords.

Get heating system ready. Have your furnace serviced and make sure there are no leaks in the windows and doors. Ensure that the heating vents are not obstructed.

Winterize outdoor faucets. Drain hoses and store them. Prepare sprinkle systems as well for the winter if you have one.

Check pavement for cracks. If there are cracks in the driveway or pavement, make sure to have them resealed. Otherwise, water can freeze and expand the cracks, resulting to more damage.

Ready your winter gear. Keep your sidewalk salt, shovels and other winter essentials ready. You’ll never know when the first snow will come.

Sweep leaves. Clean your grounds, window wells and gutters monthly or as often as needed. Test your leaf blower to ensure they’re all set for the season change.

Inspect windows and doors. Install weather stripping on windows and doors to maintain a warmer home. Replace screen doors with storm doors and check for window panes that may need replacement.

Protect against pests. Take preventive steps to keep insects and pests that may take refuge inside your home.

Test kitchen appliances. Clean your oven, stovetop and microwave to ensure they are functioning properly.

Winter Home Maintenance

Now, winter is the time to assess the interior of your home. For everything that you may have overlooked, now is your last chance to address them for the year.

De-ice. Never let ice dams and icicles from outside your home. De-ice them immediately as they are not only dangerous but can also be damaging to your home.  

Test electricity. Check that all the outlets are functioning. You can rewire them yourself or hire a professional to get the job done.

Check for loose screws. Go through the house and tighten any handles, knobs or racks that may have loosened. Also, check for locks and replace them if necessary.

Service water heater. Run your water heater and test if it works properly. Also learn how to set its temperature.

Prevent frozen pipes. Keep your thermostat at 55°F or above if you are concerned about frozen pipes when you will be on holiday vacation.

Quarterly Home Maintenance

Test detectors. Ensure that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly. Replace batteries if necessary.

Maintain yard and home exterior. Tend to your plants, sweep outdoors as often as needed, shovel snow, keep pathways clean, clean the gutters and winterize everything that needs be.

Run water in unused spaces. For rooms that are mostly vacant, run a little bit of water through the sinks and toilets to keep grime from forming.

Biennial Home Maintenance

Give your home a deep clean. Engage the whole family in giving your home a proper, deep clean. Make sure to address dirt and grime that you tend to ignore for years.

Inspect basement. Also give your basement a good inspection at least twice a year, preferably in the summer and winter.

Vacuum refrigerator coils. Vacuum the coils to remove dust and dirt that can interfere with the refrigerator’s cooling system.

Annual Home Maintenance

Clean the chimney. Have your chimney cleaned at least once in a year.

Inspect fire extinguishers. Check fire extinguishers annually to ensure they have not yet expired. If it is about to expire in the next 12 months, have it replaced.

Test your GFCI outlets. There are a lot of opinions on how often you should test this. But, it’s up to you whether to do this on a monthly or an annual basis.

Clean the chimney. Have your chimney cleaned at least once in a year. If chimney swifts have nested in it, wait until these birds leave before you have it cleaned and capped.

Of course, this list of tasks can vary a lot. But, if you want to maximize your efficiency and get all the job done, you might consider creating a calendar yourself. Do what works for you and as long as you accomplish them, you can be confident that your home will be in its best condition for years to come.

Need more idea about how will your home navigate through every season? Whether it’s a construction or full renovation, an interior designer can help create a home that is both functional and beautiful for you. Contact Lugbill Designs today!

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