If you’re in the process of buying your first home or even making a new home purchase for the second or third time, there are some money saving steps that you can take immediately.
Some of these energy saving tips can be accomplished quickly and with very little money, while others will require more planning and a bit of extra cash flow.
The key to saving money on a new home purchase is learning how to effectively cut energy costs as much as humanely possible.
From sealing cracks in windows and doorways to properly assessing your home’s insulation levels, these tips can be accomplished by amateurs in just a quick few moments out of the day.
Here are 14 great tips for cutting energy bills in your home.
Check the insulation in your attic
A properly insulated attic should be a top concern for new home buyers.
When you look in your attic there should be no less than four to six inches of insulation. The team at EnergyStar has put together a handy recommended insulation levels map for retrofitting existing wood-framed buildings all throughout the United States.
Here are the zone numbers based on the R-value suggestions for insulation.
Many states offer financial incentives for weather proofing your house. Insulation is often considered a tax friendly incentive.
2. Your hot water heater doesn’t need to be above 120 degrees Fahrenheit (55 degrees Celsius).
A lot of homes have their hot water heater turned up to 125 and even 130 degrees fahrenheit. Most of us will never take a shower in 130 degree temperatures, and our dishwashers are more than capable of cleaning dishes at 120 degrees.
If you have children in your home, temperatures above 120 degrees are also considered incredibly dangerous because they can immediately scald your child with high degree burns.
Install ceiling fans in most rooms
Moving air around your home is a great way to keep the thermostat a few degrees warmer in the summer and a few degrees lower in the winter.
The key here is to use your ceiling fans reversal switch. Air directly below the fan should be blowing down in the summer and should be pulled upwards in the winter.
Your new home will be heated and cooled for less money simply because you install and use new ceiling fans in the right way.
Exposed water pipes should be wrapped in insulation
Exposed hot water pipes lose heat as they move water from your heater to your faucet or shower.
If you have a cold basement or pipes in a cold garage or crawl space, you are literally allowing your energy costs to seep through your water pipes.
Pipe insulation can make a small two to four degree difference in the temperature of the water and that difference can lead to a good loss of money.
Check the pipes into and out of your hot water heater first, as that area is most susceptible to energy losses.
Install a programmable thermostat
Do you have a daily routine that is followed almost all of the time? A programmable thermostat can keep your home at optimal temperatures.
For example, if you are gone from 8am to 5pm every day, you can program your home to remain colder in the winter months and warmer in the hot summer months during that time. Right before you return home your thermostat can warm up or cool down your home.
In my home we program the thermostat to cool down our home while we sleep, and warm up right before we wake up.
If you love technology you can invest in a Nest thermostat which even allows you to control your homes temperature when you are outside of the house. All you need is a smartphone and a WiFi connection.
Nest also learns your habits and adjusts your homes temperature automatically in an attempt to save on energy costs.
Replace air filters for better air flow and lower energy costs
On average you should replace your air filters every three months.
Replacing your air filter allows hot and cold air to past through your furnace at a more efficient rate.
Your HVAC unit has to work harder when an air filter is clogged and that means poor air flow and a higher energy bill.
Clean your air vents
Another airflow improvement that can be accomplished in just a few quick moments of your time.
Clear away all the dust bunnies in your air vents to allow for better air flow. This will assure that your thermostat hits your target temperatures as quickly as possible.
This isn’t about cleaning your duct work, but simply cleaning around your actual vents.
Check for leaks in all of your homes plumbing
Are there small leaks under your sinks? Does your toilet seem to run for a very long time or even constantly?
Even a small leak in a faucet can add hundreds of dollars to your annual operating costs.
Check your basement for leaks, even if the pipes under your sinks are okay, the pipes in your basement could be sweating too much or have small leaks that you haven’t noticed.
Install LED or CFL light bulbs
LED is my preferred form of lighting. The bulbs are cold to the touch, they don’t contain mercury, and they reduce costs by more than another other form of lighting.
LED lights on average cost $32.85/year for your entire home. Traditional lights cost $328.59/year, and even CFCs cost $76.65 annually.
Even if you don’t make a full conversion to LED lights at this time, consider installing them in areas where you tend to leave your lights on for longer periods of time.
I recently purchased LEDs for my home at $1.75 per bulb, not a bad price for a relatively new piece of technology. With 40 bulbs in my home, I recuperated all of my added purchase costs in less than 2 months.
Purchase energy efficient appliances
If your home doesn’t come with appliances, be sure to do your due diligence when buying new fridges, stoves, washers and dryers, and even your small appliances such as blenders and microwaves.
The “annual average cost” of each appliance is now listed as part of the US government’s EnergyStar program. Compare each model and determine the savings you will receive.
Set up your home electronics with a SmartStrip.
A SmartStrip is a smart device that allows users to “unplug” devices that aren’t in use.
The on-off status of one device determines the power flowing to other devices. For example, if you turn off your TV, it automatically shuts off power to your Blu-ray player, video game console, or other connected devices.
Even while sitting in standby mode those devices can use a lot of “phantom” power.
Plant trees near your home
My wife loves trees, since we moved into our home 7 years ago she has planted at least 8 new trees.
Not only can trees give you a nice view, they are also great for saving money on energy costs.
Leafy shade trees will naturally cool your home during the hot summer months by blocking the hot rays of the fun. In the winter those trees lose their leaves and allow sunlight to hit your home, heating up your interior.
If you plant evergreens on the north and northwest sides of your home, they will remain covered and work as a wind blocker in the winter.
Mature trees also increase your homes property value which can go a long way in adding equity to your home. Everyone loves some nice curb appeal.
Seal cracks and open airflow areas in your home
Doorways, windows, and electric outlets are common areas where air seeps into and out of the home.
A SIMPLE TRICK TO FIND LEAKS IN YOUR HOME: A common trick for finding these leaks is to light an incense stick and run it along windows, electric outlets, and doorways. If smoke from the stick is pushed away from those areas you have a leak.
Fixing leaks isn’t hard in most cases and only requires some caulking or weather stripping.
Use your tax advantages and incentives
The home energy credits program from the US Government is a great way to save money on qualified energy changes in your home.
The IRS has a full list of guidelines for receiving tax credits HERE.
State and city governments often offer their own credits on top of federal credits. Be sure to check with your local government.