If you want to do your part for the Earth, take another look at your home, PBS News Hour reports. According to PBS, our homes and transportation to and from our homes account for over half — or nearly 64% — of household emissions nationwide.
Thankfully, there are actions we can take to drive down these numbers and make our homes more energy-efficient. Learn more about the importance of energy efficiency and what you can do about it below.
Why Is Energy Efficiency On the Rise?
As we become more aware of our carbon footprints and their impact on the environment, institutions and individuals are devoting more effort to green living and energy efficiency. Unfortunately, that effort isn’t enough — and that is why it is important to further explore the global need to get emissions down.
While “houses are becoming more energy-efficient, U.S. household energy use and related greenhouse gas emissions are not shrinking,” University of Michigan research fellow, Benjamin Goldstein, tells EcoWatch.
This may be chalked up to larger apartment and home sizes, EcoWatch continues. Even so, apartments and houses of all sizes can be more energy-efficient, with the right changes.
For example, JLL reveals that landlords are already spending more to improve apartments and townhomes. Spending increases from 10% in 2017 to 13% in 2018. Devoting at least some of these funds to green changes can make a tremendous impact.
1. Tackle Your Home’s Envelope
Just like you look after your own health, it is important to think about the energy efficiency of your home and its lasting effects on your family, local community, and the environment at large. Start with your house’s envelope.
What does this mean? Consider the energy efficiency of your home’s doors, windows, attics, and walls. Use weatherstripping, insulating foam strips, or energy-saving window film to fix drafty doors and windows. Make sure the walls of your home and attic are properly insulated to prevent unnecessary energy loss.
2. Consider Heating, Cooling, and Lighting
The breakdown of energy in a typical home looks like this: 50% goes to heating and cooling, 18% of household energy is used to heat up water for showers and baths, and 6% illuminates the light bulbs inside your home. With careful attention, you can make certain that this energy is used as efficiently as possible and none of it goes to waste.
To do that, have your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system inspected twice per year and regularly swap out the air filter every 45 to 90 days. Conserve hot water by taking showers instead of baths, and cut down energy use related to light bulbs by switching from traditional light bulbs to LED bulbs. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), ENERGY STAR-certified LED bulbs cut down energy use by as much as 75%.
3. Invest in Energy-Efficient Appliances
Energy-efficient appliances stand to save you a lot of money. According to Home Advisor, these appliances cut household energy use by as much as 10 to 50% and save the average household $2,000 or more.
4. Strategically Add Plants to Your Backyard
According to one-fourth of homeowners, a typical custom-built home will be 3,000 to 3,500 square feet. While prospective buyers have expectations for square footage, many do not immediately think of what they want from the backyard.
To maximize the energy efficiency of your home, invest in a spacious backyard and plant strategically. Trees that effectively shade your home can cut your household energy use by 25%. Keep air conditioning units as cool as possible by planting trees around patios, sidewalks, and any other paved areas that may otherwise absorb and retain a lot of heat. Do this faithfully, and you will save 15 to 50% on air conditioning costs.
5. Call In Professionals To Perform An Energy Audit
If your household energy bills remain pricey or if you want to further cut down your household energy use, ask a trusted team of professionals to perform an energy audit. These audits help pinpoint exactly where your home needs work or where it is losing the most energy. From there, you can take specific steps to fix it.
Paying close attention to the energy efficiency of your home is important. Driving down energy use purifies the air we breathe, leads to better health outcomes, and benefits the ecosystem and environment as a whole.