If you cannot take on a major energy efficiency remodel, there are still simple steps you can take to greater energy efficiency.

A study conducted in California in 2008, found that homes built before 1983 were responsible for 70% of the greenhouse emissions related to single-family home-energy consumption. A study by the remodeling industry concluded that there would be greater savings in residential energy consumption if we remodeled and retrofitted the older homes across the country than if we further improved newer homes. Whether your home was built before 1983 or not, there are some things you can do to improve its energy efficiency  and reduce operating costs.

1. Check the entire house for places where air can leak out of or sneak into your house. Look for cracks in the siding and spaces around doors, window air conditioners, windows, points where pipes enter the house, switch plates and electrical outlets, fireplaces, drains, skylights, attic access points (like hatches), dryer vents, and even around locks and deadbolts. You might be able to feel the air on a cold, hot, or windy day. Another way to detect for air movement is to use a lighter or a match. These air leaks can be repaired fairly quickly and easily with caulking and weather stripping.

2. Create and follow a schedule for routine maintenance for your appliances. In particular, perform these tasks:

  • Change the air filter in your heating/cooling system at least every three months. A clean system uses less energy.
  • Drain one quart of water from your water heater tank every three months. This will remove sediment that could interfere with efficient heating of the water.
  • Clean the lint trap in your dryer after every use. The lint will interfere with air flow and cause longer drying times.
  • Have your heating/cooling system checked and cleaned every year by a professional. If you have a maintenance contract, this is probably included.
  • Do an annual check of the door seals on all major appliances – refrigerator and freezer, oven, microwave, dryer, etc.
  • Clean coils annually in appliances that heat or cool air or water.

3. Think smart about how you use appliances. For example:

  • Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible to cut the energy use in half.
  • Reset the temperature on your water heater to 120° Fahrenheit. This is as hot as it needs to be for a dishwasher.
  • Choose the cycle on your dishwasher that dries dishes with cool air instead of heat, or turn the dishwasher off when the washing cycles are finished and let the dishes air dry.
  • Switch to a programmable thermostat and try to live with a slightly higher or lower temperature according to the season. Keep in mind that 1 degree of difference can lower your heating/cooling cost by 1 to 3 percent.
  • When preparing meals, get everything you will need out of the refrigerator and/or freezer at one time. Every time you open the door, you increase the cost of operation.
  • Instead of keeping the house as warm at night, turn the heat down and use an electric blanket or foot warmer. Better yet, use a hot water bottle.
  • Unplug chargers for electronic devices when they are not in use.
  • Switch to compact fluorescent bulbs in lights.
  • Try to plan meals so you don’t use the oven every night.
  • Use plants instead of air filters to clean the air.

These simple steps will save energy, reduce your power bill, help to save the environment, and save you money every month. Give it a try, and prepare to be surprised!

Some other articles you might be interested in:

Does Energy-Efficient Lighting Really Matter?

Fast and Simple Green Home Improvements

Five Water-Saving Tips for Home Landscaping