8 Easy Ways to Save Money and Reduce Energy

November 30, 2018

A typical American household spends $2,060 a year on electricity, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Unfortunately, if a home isn’t efficient, a lot of that energy goes to waste—possibly as much as three-quarters of it, according to Renewable Nation, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit focusing on affordable and clean energy. If your clients are contemplating money and energy-saving updates to a house they’re planning to buy or sell, offer them these suggestions from Renewable Nation’s app for homeowners.

Light bulb and pile of coins

© seksan Mongkhonkhamsao - Moment/Getty Images

1. Start by getting a home energy audit. Whether through the Building Performance Institute or the Residential Energy Services Network, certified professionals can conduct a home or building assessment that will help shed light on where energy is being lost and which systems are operating below par. The findings can be used to identify cost-effective improvements to make the property more comfortable and efficient.

2. Seal air leaks. Homebuyers are willing to pay a $7,095 more for a home that will reduce energy costs by $1,000 a year, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Sealing leaky windows, doors, and electrical outlets with caulk, expandable sealant, and weather stripping will help. Hiring a professional to insulate and seal ductwork in forced-air heating and cooling systems can also help lower energy bills by as much as $400 a year, Renewable Nation says.

3. Consider water usage and the water heater. Heating water is typically the second-largest energy use in a home, and can alone cost $600 or more a year, according to Renewable Nation. A homeowner can cut those costs in half by switching to a hybrid water heater that combines a standard water heater with a heat pump. If that’s not an ideal option, simply washing clothes in cold water can save $63 a year in energy costs.

4. Get a smart thermostat. Heating the overall space of a home or property is the largest energy expense, accounting for about 45 percent of residential energy bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. An owner can save 10 percent each year on heating bills by turning down the thermostat 7 to 10 degrees (Fahrenheit) for eight hours a day. A programmable thermostat can help accomplish that.

5. Avoid the “phantom” menace of energy drains. Electricity used by electronics when they are turned off or in standby mode are a major source of energy waste. Smart power strips can help eliminate the problem of phantom loads by shutting off the power to electronics when they are not in use.

6. Upgrade the fridge. If a refrigerator or freezer is more than 15 years old, it may be so inefficient that a new one would pay for itself in energy savings in just a few years. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy says modern refrigerators and freezers consume 20 to 25 percent less energy than older models.

7. Flip the switch on smart lights. Replacing your home's five most frequently used light fixtures or bulbs with Energy Star models could save $75 per year.

8. Look for the Energy Star label. If your clients are considering appliance upgrades, remind them that using products with the Energy Star label can help save up to 30 percent on related electricity bills.