Energy Efficiency

By Mark J. Donovan

June 24, 2011 4 min read

With energy costs continuing to rise dramatically, the cost of operating a home is becoming increasingly prohibitive. But there are ways homeowners can fight back and control their home energy costs. Here are some inexpensive solutions that you can employ to reduce your home's energy costs:

*Reduce Hot Water Heating and Consumption

Long, high-volume hot showers cost a fortune every year. You can start making your home more energy-efficient by replacing your old shower heads with low-flow shower heads and by simply taking shorter showers. These two simple steps alone can reduce your monthly home energy costs drastically. If you want to go to the next level in home energy efficiency as it relates to reducing your hot water heating costs, consider putting your hot water tank on a timer or, better yet, replacing your old storage hot water tank with an on-demand tankless hot water heater system.

*Better Insulate Your Home

A poorly insulated home can increase your monthly energy costs by 25 percent or more. For a more energy-efficient home, assess the insulation in your home to determine whether it meets the standards for your area per the Department of Energy's recommendations. (See Pay particular attention to your attic, as attics are notorious for having inadequate insulation in them. Also, adding insulation in an attic is an easy do-it-yourself project.

*Replace Old Light Fixtures and Bulbs

New compact fluorescent lamps and light-emitting diodes can cut your home's lighting costs by as much as 70 percent. Though more expensive than standard incandescent light bulbs, CFLs and LEDs last for thousands of hours.

Also, replace some of your old light fixtures that light up an entire room with new spotlighting options -- in the kitchen, for example. In addition to making your home more energy-efficient, this tip will help to modernize your home and add some unique charm to it.

*Update Appliances

New appliances that are Energy Star-rated are much more efficient than the old clunker refrigerator, dishwasher, washer/dryer and electric stove appliances you bought 15 years ago. By replacing your old appliances with energy-efficient ones, you can cut your electrical utility costs associated with these types of appliances by at least 20 percent.

*Service Home Furnace System Annually

It's important from an energy efficiency standpoint and a safety perspective to have your home heating furnace serviced annually. Whether it is oil- or gas-fired, its injectors and filters clog up, and burned byproducts can build up in the ductwork, which reduces the energy efficiency of the furnace.

*Replace Old Thermostats With Programmable Thermostats

Running the heat all day in your home while you're not there is a huge waste of money, albeit walking into a cold home after returning from a day of work is no fun, either. However, by replacing your home's old thermostats with programmable ones, you can improve your home's energy efficiency dramatically and be able to walk into a warm home when you return in the evening. Programmable thermostats allow you to have the heat be automatically turned down during the day when you're not home and up shortly before you return home. Many programmable thermostats also have features that allow weekday and weekend settings.

By implementing these six home energy efficiency tips, you should be able to reduce your home energy costs by half, as well as play your role in conserving the world's energy resources.

Mark J. Donovan's website is

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