Even if the moving van drove away, say, five years ago—if you’ve built a new home in the last few years, there’s a good chance you can save more energy with a few quick upgrades. It’s true that most newer homes are more energy efficient than homes that are 30 or more years old, but many builders still pay closer attention to local and state building codes than energy efficiency when making construction choices. So whether you’re still picking out the details or have had a little while to settle in, check out these ideas to help you save energy, money and time for years to come.
Look for ENERGY STAR Appliances
If your friends are asking you about your new appliances, and all you can tell them is “OMG they’re stainless steel!,” it might be time to do some extra homework. Like lots of other goods, appliances can vary significantly in cost and efficiency. When you’re standing in the appliance store, saving $300 on a new refrigerator sounds like a good idea—but—it can cost over $300 a year to power the average fridge. Spending just a little bit more on a more efficient style can pay you back several times in energy savings.
Ah, a white picket fence and a tree in the yard. Sounds nice! While landscaping can be a matter of personal taste, there are a number of things you can do to help Mother Nature help you. Try planting a large, deciduous tree (like a Sugar Maple or Oak) to the south side of your home, where the sun shines hottest in the summer. When the tree loses its leaves, the sun can help warm your home during winter. Similar screening techniques are great for outdoor A/C units. The hotter your A/C gets, the harder it has to work. Tall, narrow trees or shrubs (like Pencil Holly) can block the sun’s rays and help keep your AC cooler. And if you live on a large, flat lot, planting a row of tall, narrow evergreens (like Leiland Cyprus) on the North side of your property can cut down on wind, which can steal precious heat or air conditioned air from your home all year round. If there are power lines nearby, be sure to check out this handy planting guide.
Decorating is a great way to show off your unique style, but it can also be a great way to save energy, too. The right window treatments can still look great while also helping to prevent heat loss or solar gain. Taking your local climate into account, consider where each window faces and the amount of sun, shade or wind the window is exposed to. For sunny windows, consider room darkening shades that block out the sun on hot summer days. For windows exposed to wind, pair a standard wood blind with heavier full length draperies that you can close in winter.
I’m assuming you’d also like to relax in your new home now that you have it, right? If you’d like to save a few minutes each month, sign up for paperless billing. And with auto draft options available, you can automate the entire process for a hassle free future!