6 simple “spring greening” tips to cut your home’s energy use

(photo credit: Kirsty Hall via creative commons / cropped from original)

Living greener doesn’t have to mean depriving yourself of life’s comforts. Small and simple changes can often make a big impact on your home’s energy use. And, spring is a great time of year to make such changes.

Here’s a list of six, simple, cost-free things you can do to save energy and live greener this spring and summer.

Close your window blinds

Chances are, there’s a great greening opportunity literally hanging around your home. Closing the blinds during the day—particularly on the south and west-facing sides of your home—limits the amount of the sun’s heat getting inside.

Potential impact: Energy savings equivalent to approximately 10 – 15 percent of your summer cooling costs.

For a few dollars more: Consider adding storm panels, awnings, reflective films and/or shutters to make your windows even more energy efficient.

Unplug your stuff

An “energy vampire” is any electrical device that draws power when turned off. Well, guess what? Pretty much anything you plug in is a “vampire.” Take the average cell phone charger. It’ll draw .26 watts even without a phone plugged to it, and 2.24 watts when a fully charged device is connected. Multiply that by all the electronics and appliances left plugged in, and the wasted energy adds up.

Potential impact: Energy savings equivalent to roughly 10 percent of your electrical bill.

For a few dollars more: Consider an eco-friendly power strip, such as the Smart Strip. It’ll automatically cut power to electronics and appliances when they’re not in use.

Maintain your air conditioner

One simple task can cut your air conditioner’s energy consumption: clean or replace that dirty filter. Also, make sure vents and returns are clean and free of obstructions. Lastly, check that the condenser (the part of your air conditioner that’s outside) isn’t clogged by leaves or dirt.

Potential impact:  Cleaning or replacing a dirty filter can cut energy use by 4 – 6 percent.

For a few dollars more: Have a certified HVAC technician do an inspection and cleaning of your system at least once a year.

Start composting

You’ll save landfill space, cut methane production, and create the perfect fertilizer for your garden. And, you can do it for virtually no cost. The EPA publishes this handy guide to help you get started.

Potential impact: Along with recycling, composting helps you save space in landfills. Compostable materials like food scraps and yard waste make up 20 – 30 percent of what we throw away.

For a few dollars more: Buy a pre-manufactured composting bin at a home store or garden center.

Lower your water heater temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit

Most home experts agree that 120 degrees is adequate for virtually any household need. Simply dial down the setting on the side of your water heater.

Potential impact: Energy savings equivalent to approximately 15 – 20 percent of your water heating costs.

For a few dollars more: Insulate your tank with a water-heater blanket, available at most home stores.

Turn up the thermostat                  

Experiment to find a temperature that works for you. Even a degree or two change can make a significant difference in energy use without sacrificing comfort. A tip: Use ceiling fans to circulate air. It’ll make your rooms feel cooler and more comfortable even at a higher thermostat setting.

Potential impact: Energy savings equivalent to around 25 – 50 percent of your summer cooling costs. Running your air conditioner less will also help extend its life.

For a few dollars more: Install a programmable thermostat, which will automatically keep your house warmer—saving energy—while you’re away. Or, consider stepping up to a Nest thermostat, which can optimize your home’s energy use based on your family’s traffic patterns. Solar City is even partnering with Nest. Starting this summer. we’ll give a Nest to 10,000 new solar customers, helping them maximize their use of clean, solar energy.

So, there you have it. Six things you can start doing today that’ll help you live greener in 2015 and beyond.

Making it simple to go green

As America’s largest solar provider, Solar City is powered by the idea of making it simple and affordable to go green. Find out how we’re doing it at solarcity.com.

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