Since you are responsible for the energy used in your home, and you’re the one that has to pay the utility bills, there’s no reason you shouldn’t have some modicum of control over your consumption and how much it costs you. While you certainly don’t have much say in the rates set by electric power providers, you can definitely determine how much you decide to use. And although you might not be quite ready to make the switch to alternative energy options like solar, wind, water, and geothermal, there’s no reason you can’t do a thorough assessment of the energy use in your home in order to find ways to cut back. Here are just a few tips that should help you to achieve the residential energy efficiency that lowers your bills and your carbon footprint.

  1. Program your thermostat. The simple act of programming your thermostat can have a major impact on your energy consumption. Although there are bound to be times when you don’t need to run your furnace or AC unit (especially if you live in a temperate climate), extreme outdoor temperatures will almost certainly require you to crank up the heat or air conditioning in order to remain comfortable and/or healthy within your home interior. On these occasions, setting the thermostat can gradually regulate the temperature so that you’re not only using less energy when the family is at work and school during the day, but you’re also avoiding the spike in demand that occurs when you return home and call for hot or cold air.
  2. Install energy film. This inexpensive product for your windows is designed for easy application thanks to stick, peel, and re-stick properties. But the value it provides is far from minute. With the ability to reduce the penetration of up to 90% of the sun’s heat-producing rays into your home, energy film can significantly decrease your need for temperature adjustments.
  3. Plant a tree for your tomorrow. It’s more than just a catchy slogan; planting trees around your home can provide you with several benefits, including energy efficiency. We all know that the greenery offered by vegetation helps to reduce stress and create a beautiful outdoor environment. And it certainly doesn’t hurt to promote the symbiotic relationships that plants and humans share, whereby trees provide us with life-giving oxygen and soak up our carbon dioxide in exchange. But the shade that full-grown trees produce can also help to reduce your interior temperature during the hot summer months, helping to curb your reliance on air conditioning. And during the winter they can act as a wind break, once again making it easier to regulate and stabilize your indoor environment.
  4. Power off electronics. It’s not enough to leave the screen saver rolling on your computer; in case you didn’t know, you’re not reducing consumption unless you set it to sleep mode, or better yet, power it off completely. However, you can also stop phantom drain by putting electronics like your computer, television, and even mobile device chargers on power strips so that you can easily switch off the juice and stop the steady (albeit small) draw that occurs even when electronics are off. And don’t forget to check for tips on energy efficient electronics and other household goods.
  5. Conduct a home energy audit. If you’ve performed energy efficiency improvements and you’re still overpaying, consider hiring a pro to conduct a home energy audit. You may find that some weather stripping around windows and doors will solve your problem, or that sealing vents, pipes, and ductwork does the trick. But you may also need to address insulation problems if you want your home to be as energy efficient as possible.

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