Four Home Energy Inefficiencies You Can Remedy This Weekend for $100 or Less

August 20, 2012

Energy Efficient Home

Today, the world is awash in a ‘green’ wave. Once upon a time, basement playrooms may have proved construction’s bread and butter. Nowadays, however, those in the building biz find that requests for ‘green’ refurbishments rule the day. Yet, as home-builders can also attest to, not all green changes have to be big to be significant. It’s likely enough even new Bergen county construction projects happening near this blogger are incorporating some of the following tips.

How Green?

Homeowners wondering how ‘green’ their appliances are should check out,
a site supported by the U.S. Department of Energy. By inputting data, such as model numbers, users access a likely value for the energy consumption of their current appliances. Should a user’s appliance fall short green-wise the site offers advice on greener alternatives.

Buying Green

The Federal Trade Commission mandates energy consumption estimates to appear on the labels of many home appliances. These stickers, marked ‘EnergyGuide,’ show projections of energy use and costs incurred to the buyer over approximately one year. Values are based on average household use and national cost of fuel.

When a product is stamped with the easily identifiable Energy Star label, another buying tool, the item stamped complies with energy-saving efficiency standards approved by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Going Green


Compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs don’t fit all light fixtures. They’re more expensive and contain trace amounts of mercury. So, they must be handled with care and recycled. That said, CFLs are Energy Star approved, requiring approximately two thirds less energy than other bulbs, thereby reaping the buyer an estimated savings of forty dollars per bulb over the course of its life. That life is estimated ten times greater than that of conventional bulbs. Even with traditional bulbs costing less than two dollars and CFLs costing 2-7 times more, CFLs are still affordable.

The greenest bulb in the world is useless if it gets burned out. So, it’s wise practice to turn off lights when not in use. Lights that focus on the specific task, as lamps do, are more energy efficient. Three-way lamps are particularly good, because they incorporate the option of lower lighting. Timers, dimmers and motion sensors are energy-efficient, because they keep light use specific to when needed, moreover their installation needn’t prove costly.


Up to a quarter of traditional home energy use goes to water-heating. A good green tip is to purchase an insulation blanket for the water heater. Additional warmth prevents heaters from overexerting and wasting electricity. Also, set heaters at a maximum energy-efficient working range of between 120-125. Nor does it hurt to insulate pipes coming out of the heater. The colder the location of the heater the more likely pipes and heater will benefit from insulation. Typically, foam insulation for pipes, likewise blanket insulation, is not expensive, making such green initiatives a matter of time and care taken over money spent.

Air And Temperature

When it comes to siphoning off energy, leaks are insidious. A professional energy audit inspection, such as a blower door test, which uses a special fan to create a low pressure zone in the home, allows professional energy auditors to detect leaks. Some assessments, however, homeowners can easily make, as when light shines through a crack. Rattles, also, are a good indication things are not airtight. Walking through a closed, unventilated house with a candle, alert to smoke sneaking out through small heretofore unseen openings, is another leak detection method. Simple leak-fixes, like weatherstripping and caulking, will pay for themselves in about a year, according to experts. Typical, draft-prone areas include doors and windows, mail chutes, attic doors, or hatches, electricity and gas service entrances, areas around service lines, and surfaces surrounding siding, stucco, bricks and foundations.

Another affordable energy waste-eliminator is the programmable thermostat. Set one to turn itself on at a pre-set time to conserve fuel when the home is empty. Perfect temperature is restored before anyone arrives home.

Monitoring Green

Bill-watching is one way to verify the success of one’s greening efforts. Another way is to install an energy monitor. Such a monitor allows the homeowner to track electricity usage, monitor it from afar, even estimate the monthly utility bill.

Whether one starts off low tech, or aims higher, it’s obvious there are options aplenty for the would-be-green homeowner.

Image credit: Attribution Some rights reserved by ARNOLD Masonry and Concrete



Chris Keenan

is a green and general blog writer. He also maintains a personal cooking blog.