Home design has a large impact when it comes to environmental impact. Homes that aren’t designed with energy efficiency in mind can end up costing you hundreds every year while also harming the environment. To better understand this problem, let’s consider a few of the largest problems as well as the changes we can make to rectify them.
Current Problems With Energy Inefficient Homes
Over the past 20 years, energy use has doubled in the United States. This can be caused by several factors, the largest among them being inefficient home design. Because many homes in America were built before 1980 with over 38% having been built before 1970, energy efficiency doesn’t come standard. Poor insulation, cracks, and old roofing can all contribute to energy loss that causes higher energy bills and waste.
Old windows and doors can also contribute to this problem by allowing air to enter and escape more easily. While draft stopping door guards and plastic over windows can help during the winter months, to effectively solve the problem, replacement is required.
Large Scale Changes
If your home is an old construction that has never had a proper renovation to move it into the 21st century, nows the time to start considering it. If possible, have an inspection conducted to accurately detect all of the problem areas within your home. This will allow you to get a better picture of the renovations that will be needed.
Replacing an old roof can help prevent heat from escaping during the winter and causing your HVAC system to work overtime. Metal roofs have been gaining popularity since they can be installed over existing roofs. This helps reduce waste since asphalt singles contribute over 20 billion pounds to landfills annually. Investing in a metal roof is one way to update your home in an eco-friendly and energy-efficient way.
Additionally, if your attic is lacking insulation, or if the current insulation is from 30 years ago, it’s worth updating it with an energy-saving alternative. Spray foam insulation, for instance, is great for filling even the smallest cracks to ensure an air and watertight barrier against the elements. Gaps should also be filled around windows and entryways, though replacing old windows with EnergyStar rated models is preferable.
Additional renovations can include swapping out any appliances that aren’t energy or water saving. For instance, old washing machines and dishwashers can use much more power and water than newer models. Old clothes dryers likewise can use much more energy while also requiring multiple cycles to completely dry clothing. This leads to additional energy waste that could be avoided with modern upgrades. Updated toilets, water heaters, refrigerators, and stoves are also worth keeping in mind, especially if your current stove runs on natural gas.
Natural gas can pass through transmission lines at incredible pressures, up to 1500 psi. While the pressure is much lower when it reaches homes, around 0.25 psi, natural gas can also help increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. While there are green forms of natural gas that stems from decaying organic matter in landfills, if this type isn’t available near you, switching to electric may be the way to go.
That said, homeowners looking for the most energy efficiency should also consider the benefits of installing solar panels on their property. Solar panels paired with solar batteries can make a huge dent in your energy expenses while also helping you use to make the most of naturally harnessed energy. If things keep going the way they are, it’s only a matter of time before solar panels become standard on every eco-conscious house.
Homeowners who aren’t up for large scale renovations and upgrades can still take steps to help make their homes for energy efficiency. Even something as simple as changing the lightbulbs you use can help save you money and energy.
Traditional bulbs waste nearly 90% of their energy in the form of heat. That’s a lot of lost energy. Switching to CFLs can help prevent this and can usually pay for itself after nine months of use. They are also capable of lasting 10 times longer than traditional bulbs and can be found in a wide array of colors. Similarly, LEDs are considered one of the most energy-efficient lights available with most LEDs using only 20 to 25% of the energy a standard bulb does. Despite this, they also have one of the longest lifespans and can last up to 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs.
Installing a smart thermostat is also something that can help your home be more efficient without large scale repairs. This is because you can program smart thermostats to run less when you’re not home and only kick on before you get home. This ensures your home is always the perfect temperature when you need it to be, without wasting energy when you’re not around. You can also track energy use with a smart thermostat, something that can help you identify areas that need to be fixed. Furthermore, they are easy to install and can even be controlled right from your phone. Planning on coming home early before you’ve scheduled the AC to kick on? No problem, turn it on from your phone and enjoy the cool air when you get home.
A general rule of thumb when it comes to thermostats is to set them at 78F during the summer and 68F during the winter. Above this, every extra degree will contribute to a 6 to 7% increase in energy use, something you’re trying to avoid. Additionally, if you have a ceiling fan, you can set the thermostat 4 degrees higher as the circulating air will be able to make up the difference.
Energy Efficiency Comes in Many Forms
While large scale changes to old energy-efficient homes are preferable, not everyone has the time or money to spend on these changes. However, little steps can have a greater impact than you may think and even something as small as turning off lights that you’re not using can have an impact since lighting accounts for 12% of average energy costs.
If you want to make your home as eco-friendly as possible, consider implementing certain changes over time. Replace small things like lightbulbs, cut back on water usage, and turn off things when they aren’t in use. After saving up you can then invest in larger appliances that will continue to save you more and more money and energy.