Eco Friendly Home Maintenance

Published on August 23rd, 2012 | by Chris Keenan

Four Home Energy Inefficiencies You Can Remedy This Weekend for $100 or Less

Turning a standard home into a pillar of energy efficiency is often thought to be an expensive and time-consuming process, but this doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, there are plenty of easy ways to “green” a home that are both cost-effective and able to be done on any average weekend. Best of all, this do-it-yourself projects are almost too easy to complete, making them perfect for homeowners of all skill levels.

In particular, there are four quick and cost-effective ways to green a home and begin saving immediately on energy costs and the household’s overall carbon footprint.

Energy Efficient Home

Example of an energy efficient home.

1. Replace Standard Lights with Motion-Detecting Models

There is perhaps no bigger energy inefficiency than a light left on in an abandoned room of the home. These languishing lightbulbs waste energy, create heat, and run up utility bills, largely for no reason other than one of the home’s residents forgot to flip a switch upon exiting the room. While most homeowners will try to teach their children and loved ones to be more responsible when leaving a room, most will turn to an increasingly affordable technology: motion detecting sensors attached to the home’s lights.

Whether used indoors or outside, these motion sensors now cost no more than $20 in most instances, and they’re as easy to replace as changing a standard home’s light switches. That means it will likely take no more than half an hour to turn a problematic lightbulb into an energy-efficient implementation.

2. Replace Old Thermostats with Programable Models

The programmable thermostat is one of the best ways to save energy and lower utility bills when pursuing eco-friendly projects in the home. These thermostats have an internal clock, and they can be set to heat or cool the home to different temperatures at varying points throughout the day. If everyone is at work or school, they can stop heating or cooling a home.

Shortly before everybody arrives home after a busy day, the thermostat can begin heating or cooling the home to the ideal level, saving a day’s worth of energy without sacrificing any real comfort. Near this blogger, most new Bergen county construction has been designed specifically for programmable thermostats, saving customers large sums of money over the course of a typical year.

3. Find and Fix Leaks Throughout the Home

Leaking doors, windows, and even sink fixtures, can contribute significantly to how much energy a home uses each year. Fixing these leaks is actually pretty simple; homeowners will need to pick up some weather-stripping, caulk, and tape, and then search every window, door jamb, and sink throughout the home for any signs of trouble. Each quick will be quick and easy, and the savings on each utility bill will be dramatic and instantly noticeable.

4. Wrap the Water Heater in an Insulated Blanket

Water heaters are excellent at keeping a home’s water ready for hot showers, perfect dishwasher results, and plenty of clean hands. But they’re also good and wasting a great deal of energy as they heat water and keep it at a suitable temperature. In addition to ensuring that a home’s water heater isn’t making things hotter than 120 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s also important to make sure that no heat is being released by the heater — and thus wasting energy.

The best way to ensure energy efficiency is to pretend the water heater is a person trying to keep warmth in. Typically, that’s done with blankets. It’s done this way with water heaters, too, which can be wrapped with a thermal blanket made of denim and foil. This will keep the water’s heat from escaping through the heater’s metal or fiberglass exterior. And, because the water heater has to spend less energy on the water’s temperature, it will save a great deal of money when homeowners get their next utility bill in the mail.

Remove Energy Inefficiencies While Saving Money

Turning a standard home into one with a much smaller carbon footprint isn’t all about wind-powered energy, solar panels, and recycled building materials. While those things are all good ideas, and they should be pursued by every homeowner, sometimes it’s the smaller fixes that yield much more immediate, appreciable results.

Whether it’s working to better insulate the home’s water heater, fixing its leaky windows or doors, or even replacing standard light switches with motion sensors, going green can be as quick and easy as a typical weekend project. With the right tools, a few extra hours, and the determination to go green, homeowners can find themselves saving a large amount of money — and energy — each year.

Image credit: Attribution Some rights reserved by ARNOLD Masonry and Concrete

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About the Author

is a green and general blog writer. He also maintains a personal cooking blog. Find Chris on Google



  • Jonathon Fields

    It is hard to believe anyone would leave lights on when no one is in the room, and simply turning the light on when you enter ,and off when leaving, actually uses less power than motion sensors, which consume power all the time, and have a delayed action in turning off the lights. It is more important to replace all incandescent bulbs with low energy equivalents. If I have every light on in my house the total consumption is around 100 watts, so taking 10 hours to consume a unit of electricity, though never do have them all on.

    I don’t really get the idea of these programmable thermostats: most systems have a timer to select when they are on or off. In the summer, my system is off all the time, and during the winter it comes on for two hours in the morning, for getting up, and dressed, and two hours in the evening, for going to bed. What would be helpful, and are available, are programmable thermostats on each heating radiator, so that different room temperatures can be set for different times.

    Sealing air leaks? – good idea, and inexpensive.

    I also find it hard to believe that anyone has an uninsulated water heater, (or hot water cylinder as we call them in the good old UK), The recommendation these days is not to have a tank of stored hot water at all, but to heat water as and when it is used using the same boiler as used for heating the home, (a “combi” boiler),. The most efficient form is a condensing combi boiler which retrieves further heat from the flu gases. These combi boilers also deliver hot and cold water at the same high pressure from the water supply pipe, so allowing showers to run without sophisticated pressure equalization systems and pumps.

  • Andy Miles

    PS the fire place is lovely, straight from a Hobbit Hole, but from an energy efficiency point of view, such fireplaces are a disaster, as all the heat from the fire goes up the chimney , and the fire sucks in warm air from the room like an extractor fan, sucking in cold air from outside through any little gap it can find. Better, is a wood burning stove, as in the old western films with the coffee brewing on top, or in Harry Potter’s dormitory at Hogwarts , especially if they are fed with piped air from outside. By controlling the air, combustion is slowed down, and the heat released is conducted into the air in the room through the metal casing of the stove, and much less heat is lost through the flu gases.

  • Great tips. Thanks a lot. I love the idea of saving energy and using modern technology at the same time. How long does a motion sensor lights last?

  • The big omission is a discussion on the benefits of LED versus CFL versus incandescent light bulbs. At the point of purchase, LED’s look expensive, but take a look at this article that considers all the costs of these bulbs over their lifetime for the real answer. http://www.livegreen.cc/2012/08/31/is-an-led-light-bulb-worth-the-upfront-cost/ take a look at the rainwater harvesting article as well, that can really save you money and does a lot of good for water usage.

  • It’s true one of the biggest culprits for energy inefficiencies are old drafty windows and doors. Many people don’t realize how much energy and heat is wasted through old windows that are no longer sealed properly. To check to see if your windows or doors are letting drafts through, move your hand around the frame/edges of the window or doors – if you can feel a small breeze or coldness then most likely you’ve found one of the windows/doors that need to be replaced.

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