Winter is upon us, and clients may be thinking about home improvements to save money on utility bills as they start to feel the effects of colder weather inside their homes.
Approximately 13% of greenhouse gas emissions
come directly from buildings because of heating, cooling and cooking needs, so even small improvements can have a notable impact both on clients' homes and the environment. Here are a few options to reduce energy usage and carbon footprints this winter in both new and existing homes:
- Conduct a free home energy assessment. An energy audit completed by a professional is a great first step to help benchmark where a home stands in terms of energy efficiency, and will give you a better sense of actions to take to help improve the home's energy performance.
- Use LED lights. Replacing existing lights with LEDs and putting lights on a timer could save hundreds of dollars in energy costs.
- Weatherize the home. Seal any noticeable cracks, particularly around leaky doors and windows. Caulking these areas and weatherstripping can help air-seal troublesome spots. Low- or moderate-income customers may be eligible for the Weatherization Assistance Program to help offset costs.
- Add Insulation. Adding insulation to the attic, basement and walls helps keep heat inside the house and makes it more comfortable.
- Improve windows. Even if an upgrade isn't a possibility at the moment, less expensive options such as caulking, weatherstripping and adding thicker window coverings can help keep the inside of the home warmer.
- Install a programmable thermostat. Check with the local utility provider to see if it provides free or discounted programmable thermostats that will adjust the temperature automatically based on your clients' schedule.
- Check the water heater settings. Lowering the temperature can reduce your energy use.
- Upgrade appliances. Check out ENERGY STAR's website to learn more about the most energy-efficient appliances on the market.
Clients also can incorporate energy-saving actions in their everyday routine, such as unplugging devices when not in use to avoid draining electricity and adjusting their thermostats to match their schedules and take advantage of natural heat in the home, such as heat from more frequent holiday cooking.
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