We love Earth. After all, it is our home – and at vipHomeLink, we have a “thing” about homes. (Some people call it an obsession. We like to call it a “healthy fascination.”) We know you want to help Mother Earth be healthy, possibly by driving an electric vehicle. While we applaud you, you can double your efforts on the home front with energy saving tips.
A Capital One study found that an EV costs approximately $485 per year to run while a gas-powered vehicle costs an average of $1,117 a year. However, the U.S. Department of Energy discovered a typical household can save up to 25% on their utility bills through energy-efficient methods. (That’s about $2,200 per year.) This percentage not only doubles the savings an EV delivers annually but also helps to make your home more green with energy conservation.
In honor of Earth Day this week, we have a few simple ways to help you improve energy efficiency at home (and maybe save the planet, too).
Quick energy savings measures at home
Greener homes start with the big-ticket items, like your appliances. Simply by using certified ENERGY STAR appliances, you’ll find that refrigerators, freezers, ovens, dryers, etc., run 10%-15% more efficiently than those that only meet the federal standard. Of course, we’re not recommending you chuck your current appliances and buy energy efficient models. As you need to replace a refrigerator or dryer, consider an ENERGY STAR rated appliance. (You can find these appliances at any home improvement store.)
Look beyond your kitchen or laundry room to these tree-rific ways to improve energy efficiency at home:
- Switch to LED light bulbs, which are up to 80% more efficient than fluorescent and incandescent bulbs.
- Locate and resolve electrical “vampires,” such as TVs and cellphone chargers that create wasteful energy when not in use but plugged in.
- Annually maintain heating and cooling systems, and replace air filters as needed.
- Turn down hot water heaters.
- Install and use programmable thermostats.
- Wash clothes in cold water and only run full loads of laundry.
- Add weatherstripping around windows and doors.
Going all-in with a whole-house approach
While the above tips help to jump-start your home’s energy efficiency, it won’t be as green as it can be until you access your whole dwelling. Make an appointment with a certified home energy auditor who will conduct a walk-through of your home and provide you with energy-saving recommendations.
The one thing you absolutely cannot do is delay this assessment. Many new homeowners feel they need to prepare for a home assessment, which is not the case. The point of an assessment is to gain an understanding of your home’s carbon footprint and attain a list of tasks to tackle. (If you don’t know what to fix, how can you fix it?) Plus, getting an assessment within the first few months of buying a home can help to accelerate results, which is good for the environment (and your wallet).
How do I know if my house is energy efficient?
In a recent email, PSE&G’s Chairman, President, and CEO Ralph Izzo writes, “…if our collective goal is to reduce carbon emissions that are created when we generate electricity, then the most effective first step we can take is to reduce demand for electricity in the first place by using less of it.”
Each one of us can do our part. For a quick and easy evaluation of your home’s energy consumption and efficiency, PSE&G offers an online Home Energy Assessment Report. Available to all homeowners, not just PSE&G customers, this unbee-lievably (and dare we say “fun”) assessment is a five-minute questionnaire that provides a holistic view of your home and its energy consumption.
You know where we’re going with this.
Using the 2019 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers by the National Association of REALTORS, we filled out the questionnaire as if we were an average homeowner who bought the average home in 2019.
The average homeowner was married and had no children under the age of 18 living in the home (no word on how many dogs). The average home sold was a single-family dwelling, built in 1990, with 1,850 square feet, three bedrooms, and two bathrooms.
From this data, the PSE&G Home Energy Assessment Report found that we could save almost $1500 (or almost $800 more) annually by making our home energy efficient.
So how can we improve energy efficiency at home in our daily life?
We’re glad you asked! Most of the energy savings comes from the heating and cooling systems of a home, followed by lighting and laundry. You can achieve through regular home maintenance, including those bullet points you read above (cleaning your air filters, etc.) Of course, don’t forget to clean out your dryer vent, perform annual maintenance on your HVAC unit (every spring), and ensure your kitchen appliances run efficiency.
This is a case of “the more you know.” If you don’t know how to make your home energy efficient, it won’t become one. This is especially imperative now since many millennials don’t have extensive home knowledge. According to a poll by Bankrate, 63% of millennial homeowners regret buying their home and attribute it to a lack of home maintenance knowledge and the associated cost of each task.
I know what you’re thinking.
Isn’t there a home maintenance app for that?
Why, yes there is! vipHomeLink can help both new homeowners and homeowners in older homes to understand essential home maintenance projects. Our app’s vipTIPs give homeowners the information they need to perform maintenance tasks and improve energy efficiency.
Our personalized reminders tell homeowners when and how often to complete routine, energy-saving maintenance. The Home Fitness Index highlights how well you’re taking care of your home, and the Money Meter reflects the incremental home value accrued by doing so.
This was originally published as Shifting focus: Bringing home efficiency into the fast lane.