D.I.Y. Home Energy Projects!
The BetterBuildings for Michigan Program is geared toward metro Detroiters who live in single-family homes, but no matter where you live there are some do-it-yourself projects anyone can do to help make your apartment, mobile home, dorm room or any other dwelling more energy efficient.
1. Unplug It!
According to tvakids, “The cost of standby power used in the United States comes to more than $10 BILLION a year, about $100 a year for each home.” It’s always the simple things that we walk by every day and don’t pay attention to, but they make a big difference. Even though we’re not using the cell phone charger, it is still drawing a small amount of electricity that ends up costing you money.
Try unplugging these items when you’re not using them:
- cell phone or electronic device chargers
- computers and video games
- Rechargeable equipment
Tip: Use a power strip to plug in a group of items (like cell phone, iPad or tablet chargers.) When you unplug a device from the charger, just flip the power switch off. You can also use a power strip for your TV, video game system, DVD player, and stereo equipment. When you’re done playing games or watching TV, just turn the power strip off. Since you’re not pulling the plug, you won’t have to reset your clocks! You can also engage your kids in helping hunt out energy hogs and put them on a diet.
2. Buy smart for energy savings
Next time you’re at the hardware store or purchasing anything that uses energy, remember that the cost of a new appliance or device is only part of the story – you’ll also need to pay to keep your appliances running as long as you own them. Here are some easy changes to consider:
- Switch to CFL (compact flourescent) or LED (light emitting diode) lightbulbs. These have a higher purchase price but last for years and end up saving you hundreds of dollars on your energy bills!
- Install an energy-efficient shower head in the bathroom to reduce your hot water usage.
- Buy energy efficient devices, equipment or appliances whenever possible. Look for the Energy Star label.
3. Keep warm and cool the smart way
Heating and cooling are some of the biggest energy users we have, and for a good reason—we want to stay comfortable in our homes! Next time you’re feeling chilly or overheated, think about these easy options before you reach for the thermostat.
- Use a fan during the summer months instead of an air conditioner. If you have to use an air conditioner, keep it on a low setting or set your thermostat 4-10 degrees higher than you do in the winter.
- Close window blinds or shades during the day, particularly any windows that receive direct sunlight. (I like sunlight, so this is a hard one for me!)
- Open windows at night when there’s a breeze.
- Arrange your furniture in a way that doesn’t block or obstruct any heat vents, radiators or baseboard heaters. This includes drapes or curtains; not only will they block the heat from entering your apartment, but it’s a fire hazard too!
- Seal windows with plastic or rope caulk during the winter.
- If you control your heat in the winter, turn down the thermostat when you are not home, and at night.
4. In the Kitchen
The kitchen is full of appliances that use electricity, but the good news is that there are lots of easy ways to save energy there!
- Minimize the number of times you open the oven, refrigerator and freezer doors.
- Match the size of any pots or skillets you use on the stovetop elements. There’s no need to use the energy required to heat up the largest element when you’re only using the smallest pot in the kitchen.
- Reduce cooking times by thawing frozen foods in the refrigerator beforehand.
- Fill your freezer! The more items that are inside your freezer, the less warm air can get in when you open the door.
- Don’t overcrowd your fridge. It can block the coolers and make the cooling less even.
Energy savings are not just for people who own houses; everyone can make a difference with a few minor changes. We’ve identified some additional resources to help you put your home in the comfort zone:
- DTE and Consumers Energy offer energy saving rebates and tips for the home.
- Michigan Saves is a nonprofit organization that makes affordable loans for home energy improvements.
- WARM Training Center has home repair seminars and other resources that you might want to research.