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How to make your home energy efficient

An energy-efficient home isn’t only better for the planet, it can also help you lower your bills and save money.

Benefits of an energy-efficient home

Making your home more energy efficient can:

  • reduce your energy bills
  • lower your carbon footprint
  • make it easier to have a stable, comfortable temperature in your home
  • potentially increase the value of your home

How energy efficient is your home?

You can find out how your home fares through Home Energy Score (HES). It rates energy use on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most energy efficient and 1 the least. The average score in the US is 5.

A Home Energy Score also gives you recommended improvements and cost saving estimates. Learn more about HES and find a Department of Energy certified assessor using this tool.

You can always conduct your own basic home energy assessment to begin with.

Make a list of any issues you can spot, including: air leaks, insulation, ventilation, heating and cooling equipment, lighting, appliances and electronics.

Tips to make your home energy efficient

There are many ways you can save energy – from turning down the thermostat to washing your clothes at a lower temperature.

Switch to energy-efficient products

Choosing from the growing range of energy-efficient products – from blenders to washing machines – can be a great way to save money on your energy bills. 

Even simple changes can add up. For example, lighting accounts for around 15% of the average home's energy use. Replacing traditional incandescent lightbulbs with LED or energy efficient lightbulbs can save the average household around $225 a year.

Learn more about how much energy your electronics and appliances are using and how much that electricity costs.

And if you're looking for new appliances, you could start with Energy Star certified products that can help you save energy.

Reduce heat loss in your home

Around 53% of the average home’s energy-related expenditure is on heating and cooling. In many homes, heat is lost through walls, roofs, windows, doors, and even floors, which contributes to higher energy bills.

You can reduce this heating and cooling cost by:

  • using a Smart Thermostat to control the room temperature more effectively
  • applying weather stripping and caulking/sealant around all doors, windows, and other gaps to keep the cool air in, and the hot air out
  • hanging curtains, drapes, shades and awnings over windows to reduce heat in summer
  • placing heat-resistant radiator reflectors between exterior walls and the radiators in winter

The less heat you lose, the less it’ll cost to keep your home warm. Insulating your attic could save you hundreds of dollars on your heating bill.

Remember to keep your home ventilated and seek advice from an installation professional.

Generate your own renewable energy

Renewable energy is generated from sources such as the sun, wind or water and reduces our reliance on fossil fuels.

As well as choosing a renewable energy supplier, you could consider generating your own power by installing things like:

  • biomass heating systems that burn organic material in a wood burning stove or boiler to provide heat and hot water
  • solar panels that use sunlight to generate electricity or provide hot water
  • renewable cooling systems, such as chilled water distribution, which pumps water from a cold reservoir or chills it through underground pipes
  • absorption refrigeration cooling, which makes cold air out of hot water
  • heat pumps that use naturally occurring heat in the air or ground (instead of burning fuel) to create power and heat your home

There are various EPA programs and state policies that support renewable energy, if you want to generate your own.

Ways to finance energy-saving home improvements

If you’re looking for energy-efficiency financing programs, first check the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) programs. For example, the Weatherization Assistance Program supports low income houses to reduce their energy bills by increasing the energy efficiency of their homes.

You may also qualify for other federal and state sponsored tax credits and rebates.

Personal savings

If you have cash available, using your savings can be a good option to fund home improvements, especially smaller projects such as draft-proofing. You can also avoid paying interest that may come with borrowing.

However, it’s important to consider whether there are any charges for withdrawing your savings and whether you’ll have enough money left over for an emergency fund.

Leverage the equity of your home

You may be able to borrow money by refinancing your home loan or getting a Home Equity Line of Credit.

This can help fund home improvements, like making your home more energy-efficient, which could also increase its value.

But think carefully about securing a loan against your home, as it could be foreclosed if you’re unable to keep up with the payments.

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