When you move into a new home, or even if you’ve lived in your home for 10+ years, it’s a good idea to assess the efficiency of your home. Almost every home could be more efficient than it is, and you might be surprised at the benefits of making your home more energy-efficient than it currently is.
Homes in Arizona can especially benefit from increased energy efficiency because it can save you money and help your home to be more comfortable year-round. Changing your home to be more energy-efficient might sound intimidating, but there are several extremely simple ways to make your home more efficient without requiring a lot of know-how or effort on your part.
We’ve come up with 10 easy ways to make your home more energy-efficient, and honestly, half of them you could start doing today without spending any money or changing your routine.
1. Switch to LED Lightbulbs
Some people, when they think of LED light bulbs, think of those blinding white light bulbs that make the lighting in the room feel like a hospital. It isn’t the most pleasant thought. But LED light bulbs actually come in various warmer and colder light tones so you can choose the kind of lighting you’ll have in your home.
LED light bulbs help to make your home energy efficient because they have a longer lifetime than non-LED light bulbs and they use less energy to generate light. If you switch every light bulb in your home to an LED bulb, you might find your electric bill drop to a lower price. That alone would make the switch worthwhile.
2. Don’t Leave Lights On
How easy is it to walk out of a room and leave the lights on behind you? We’ve all done it. Sometimes we might think, “Oh, I’ll be right back in this room, might as well leave the lights on while I’m gone.” Other times, turning off the light might not even cross our minds.
Leaving on an occasional light won’t destroy the efficiency of your home or your electric bill, but turning off the lights when you aren’t in the room, even if they are only left on occasionally, can make a difference. The difference will be especially obvious if lights are left on frequently. So try getting in the habit of always turning the light off when you leave a room. You could also try leaving lights off when there’s enough natural light for you to see what you’re doing.
3. Pull the Shades
Most of us only close the shades, blinds, or curtains when it’s nighttime and we’re uncomfortable with what’s lurking outside in the dark while we’re sleeping. Or when we’re changing and want privacy.
However, shades can be useful for more than privacy and security. This is especially true with homes in Arizona. Arizona is warm year-round, but the summer heat is infamous. So when that afternoon heat comes, try pulling the shades. You don’t need to close them completely, but even partially closing the shades will help keep the sun’s heat out of your home. And when the sun’s heat is blocked from your home, you’ll have less need for your air conditioning to run.
Pulling the shades is one of the simplest ways to regulate the temperature in your home. While it may not keep your home perfectly cool, it can make a significant difference in how often you need to use electricity to keep your home cool.
4. Try Smart Thermostats – Or Adjust the Ones You Have
Some of the biggest energy suckers in your home are the air conditioner and the heater. Pulling the shades is, of course, one way to help combat the cost of air conditioning, but there are other ways that might be even better.
One way is to try adjusting the thermostat temperatures differently. In the summer, set the thermostat a little warmer than you usually would, especially if your home is in Arizona. This will keep the air conditioning from turning on too often, and if you pull the shades in the afternoons, your home should still stay comfortably cool.
In the winter, turn the thermostat to be a little cooler than you normally do so the heat doesn’t turn on more than necessary, and this will also help the efficiency (and cost) of your home utilities. If you feel a little chilly with the thermostat set like this, you can leave your shades open to let in more sunlight. Or you can use it as an excuse to cuddle in a blanket all day.
The time of day can also determine how you should set your thermostat. Setting it a little warmer during the day and a little cooler at night will help your home temperature adjust based on the outside temperature so you don’t have to run your air conditioning or heater as much. Plus, a cooler house temperature at night can help you sleep better, so it benefits your health as much as your bank account.
All this thermostat adjusting can be frustrating if you don’t have a smart thermostat, so consider switching to a smart version if you don’t already have one. A smart thermostat can learn your temperature preferences, so if you prefer it cooler at night but warm in the morning, it will automatically make the shift for you.
Smart thermostats also make recommendations of where to set your thermostat to make your home temperature as energy efficient as possible and will adjust the efficient temperature based on the season. Even better, smart thermostats often have an “Away” setting that you can use when you are away from home for extended periods of time. It will make sure your home is kept at a temperature that costs as little as possible while still protecting everything inside (like your pipes).
5. Don’t Block Air Vents
The air vents in your home are set up to push the air around in and between rooms. This helps regulate the temperature because as the air moves around the thermostats can sense what the actual temperature in the room is and run the air conditioning or heating accordingly.
Now, if the air vents in your home are on the ceiling, you may not need to worry about this one, but still take a look around your home to be sure. People will sometimes set up furniture and curtains over or in front of air vents in their homes. The furniture may look best in that position, but it causes some problems with your home’s efficiency.
Furniture or curtains that cover air vents disrupt the flow of air from the vent to the room and house. This might make it so some rooms don’t heat or cool as well as they could, so when the thermostat senses that the room isn’t as warm or cool as it’s supposed to be, the system starts running more.
Moving furniture and curtains away from air vents will help rooms adjust to the right temperature without the heating or cooling system running more than necessary to achieve the ideal temperature. So take a walk around your home and look for air vents that may be blocked.
6. Avoid Using Heat-Generating Appliances
Let’s clarify this one – it’s fine to use heat-generating appliances (like ovens) in your home. But there are certain times during the day when it’s better not to use them. For homes in Arizona, this can be especially important because it’s already so hot outside.
Using appliances that generate heat in the middle of the day, when the day is most hot, only adds to the heat inside your home. And when the temperature increases in your home, your air conditioning system runs more often.
So if you want to save money and make your home more energy-efficient, try to use appliances like your oven in the morning or evening when the outside temperature has dropped a bit. That way, the temperature in your home will stay more balanced and your air conditioning won’t need to run so much to keep your home cool.
7. Save Water Whenever You Can
A great way to start making your home more efficient is to change your water usage. For example, don’t leave the water running while you brush your teeth.
One of the big ways people use water in their homes is showering. Obviously, we can’t stop showering entirely, but there are a couple of ways to make showers more efficient. First, try to take shorter showers. If you usually take 10 minutes to shower, see if you can do it in 5 minutes. Shortening showers will help you use less water every day.
Second, you could lower the temperature of your shower water. Super hot showers might feel great, but they don’t look so good on your utility bill. So cooling off your showers, even a little bit, will make them more energy efficient.
Third, you could look into replacing your showerheads. Some showerheads are designed to lessen the amount of water you use during your shower while still giving you good water pressure. You can find these at various home improvement stores.
Aside from showering, you can limit your water usage with your appliances as well. You could combine loads of laundry or make sure the dishwasher is as full as possible before you run it so you don’t have to run it as often. Bigger loads cleaned less frequently will clean more clothes and dishes without overusing the appliances. And using them less frequently might just extend the lifespan of your appliances as well.
8. Install Solar Panels
Solar panels might seem like a big investment, but the solar market is expanding. You can now find smaller, portable solar panels that you can install yourself and use to power certain things in your house. These smaller solar panels might not power your entire house, but they can make a difference in how much power you use each day.
Alternative sources of power, even if they aren’t used full-time, can really help you save energy during the times of day when power is most expensive. And they definitely help your home to be more energy-efficient, particularly if your home is in Arizona. The long sunny days can give your home a real power boost if you use solar power.
9. Drip Lines Instead of Sprinklers
If you have a huge lawn in your yard, sprinklers might be something of a necessity. But if you have a smaller yard without a lawn, you could opt for drip lines to your plants instead of sprinklers. Homes in Arizona might find drip lines useful because the summer heat often kills lawns, so the typical outside landscaping doesn’t always include grass.
So if you’re looking to water a few Joshua trees, cacti, etc. and not a full lawn, a drip line could save you money and water. Drip lines are set up to water individual plants, not full yards. The water comes out to each plant on the line individually, gives it the water it needs, then shuts off without watering anything unnecessarily.
As a bonus, drip lines also typically result in fewer weeds in your yard, so you’ll be saved from the effort of crawling through your yard weed hunting.
10. Choose Drought Resistant Plants
Like we just hinted at, heat can be a real killer of plants. If you live somewhere with intense heat, like Arizona, it’s often better to select plants that are resilient in hot, dry weather over plants that are heavily reliant on water.
So try plants like succulents, cacti, Joshua trees, and other similar plants that can handle a lot of heat and not a lot of water. Doing so will save you a lot of water and a lot of money on water because the plants in your yard won’t need much water anyway.
Energy-efficient homes have so many benefits, and it’s really quite easy to make your home more energy-efficient. Not only can you save money, but you can help reduce harm to the planet by using less energy in your daily life. So give it a shot by trying some of these ideas for a more energy-efficient home.