Are you thinking of making energy-efficient upgrades in your home? You may be under the impression that you have to spend a lot in order to save a lot down the road with these types of improvements, but that’s not always the case. Here are some tips for buying energy-saving technology on a budget:
Complete a Home Energy Audit
Before you start making any energy efficiency updates, you need to know what areas should be targeted by completing a home energy audit. An audit will provide a snapshot of your home’s energy consumption and offer beneficial suggestions. Once you have this information, try to estimate the cost of each recommendation. Some changes will be simple, while others will require the help of a professional contractor. If you’re on a budget, implement low-cost changes first.
Go After Low-Hanging Fruit
Once you know where your home needs improvements, pursue those areas that represent low-hanging fruit (where you can make changes without spending too much time or money). A great place to start is with energy-efficient light bulbs, which can easily be purchased at your local hardware store and installed without assistance. Although these bulbs are more expensive, they won’t break your budget and consume about 25-80% less energy than regular bulbs, while lasting up to 25 times longer. Spend a quiet afternoon switching out the bulbs in your home and you’ll be well on your way to having a more energy-efficient space.
Look for Rebates
After you spend a little time knocking out smaller projects, you may have your eyes set on larger home improvements that are out of your budget. Before you call it quits, research whether there are any federal rebate opportunities available, while also searching for state or utility rebates that may be applicable for improvements such as the installation of new green appliances or a solar water heating system. If any of these are available, calculate how much it would cost for you to make the improvement and how much you could get back through the rebate program. You may be surprised to find that the project you once thought was well out of your reach is actually within your budget!
Remember the Thermostat
There are two different ways you can reduce your thermostat’s energy use on a budget. To avoid spending any money, try simply adjusting the temperature setting. Lower the temperature to 68 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter and raise it to 78 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer. By making this change, you can reduce your annual utility bills by around 10%!
Or, buy an inexpensive programmable thermostat. Newer models allow you to preset the temperature so your HVAC system maintains a comfortable temperature when you’re home, but ensures greater efficiencies when the house is unoccupied. When properly used, a programmable thermostat is estimated to save up to $180 per year.
Do you often leave the house without remembering to turn off the lights or unplug any appliances that aren’t in use? Many people do, but unfortunately that is a bad habit that wastes a lot of energy. Luckily, there have been some technological advances that make it much easier to stay on top of energy savings. Check out this list of smart outlets or offerings from a local company, BOSS Controls, that can be regulated with a remote or smartphone app. Using these inexpensive tools, you can turn off the lights or ensure everything is unplugged from whatever location your day may find you.
Invest in an inexpensive rainwater barrel and place it outside during stormy weather. Once you have collected a decent amount of water, use it to wash your dog, water your lawn, or give your car a rinse. This helps reduce your overall water usage since you would not normally be using rainwater for these different activities.
As you can see, anybody can become more energy efficient regardless of the size of your budget!