Still looking for ways to spend less on utility bills? Improving the rate at which your home uses energy is one of the most important concepts you can put into action right now, especially as demand and prices increase.
If you’ve been following our series on 4 Ways You Can Improve Your Home’s Energy Efficiency Now, you’ve learned about reducing energy consumption in three major areas of the home:
- Air leakages, insulation, and HVAC
- Water heating and conservation
In part 4, we’re looking at improvements you can make for the final areas of the home: windows, doors, and lighting. While there are various types of changes you can make to existing fixtures, you might also consider upgrading to newer, more energy efficient ENERGY STAR products to take advantage of significant, long-term savings.
Improvements for Windows, Doors & Lighting
On average, windows and doors account for 10-25% of heating bills in the U.S. Lighting occupies equal space on the grid at about 11%. So how can you take measures now to reduce the energy consumption of these specific fixtures?
The most effective way to reduce energy usage here is to replace single pane windows with double pain, high-performance glass – making sure they carry a low-E or spectrally selective coating to reduce heat loss/gain. Manufacturer rebates and government incentives can make this type of purchase more feasible, while helping you realize energy savings right away.
If you’re not replacing windows just yet, here are some ways that you can save on utility bills with existing features:
- Close curtains and shades during the day
- Install insulating window shades
- In winter, use heavy duty, clear plastic sheets on window frames, or tape clear plastic film to the inside of frames
- Keep windows on the south side of the house clean to let in winter sun
Entry doors are notoriously ineffective at stopping drafts, primarily because of the constant opening and closing that affects the weatherstripping and door bottoms. Rather than foam tape as weatherstripping, have a professional install vinyl bulb weatherstripping, which is more effective. If you’re financially ready, consider purchasing storm doors, which have adjustable door bottoms to prevent heavy drafts.
Investing in new lighting technology, such as CFL and LED fixtures, is one of the fastest ways to cut your utility bills. In fact, CFL bulbs use up to 75% less energy than standard, incandescent lighting, use 75% less heat, and lasts up to 10 times longer. Even more effective than CFL bulbs are the new LED fixtures, lasting 25 times longer, delivering better light quality, and using less energy.
Because the most significant savings with CFL bulbs are realized in fixtures that are left on for longer periods of time, it’s a good idea to use CFL bulbs in outdoor fixtures that stay lit overnight. CFL bulbs are also available for use in floodlights, and ENERGY STAR rated fixtures now come with automatic daylight shutoff.
Inside the home, consider CFL bulbs and linear fluorescent tubes, which provide drastic energy savings and greater efficiency. Recessed lighting is also very effective at reducing energy consumption.