NOTE: Free ebook offer below. Take, take, take. Use, use, use. Gimme, gimme, gimme. More, more, more. Consume, consume, consume! Consumerism is a serious issue, but I think in terms of energy is where it counts the most. Energy not only to produce goods that ultimately wind up as trash/waste, but also energy to run them and keep things going (such as cars, electronics, etc.). Our homes consumer more energy than we do because they are designed inefficiently and built wrong.
One of the highest bills most people have is their utility bill for heating and cooling. Yet, there IS a way to get out of paying this month after month, year after year, which eats up your pocketbook and contributes to climate change!
Anyone can reduce their electricity loads and carbon footprint by making small changes that add up, but you also have to stay warm in winter, and then avoid overheating in sweltering summers. So how can you eliminate or greatly reduce your energy bill without compromising comfort?
Tips for reducing your energy bill and carbon footprint
Outside of cutting back on heating and cooling, typically your greatest energy-pulling household item is your refrigerator. Consider replacing your fridge and any other old or used appliances with something more efficient, such as:
Energy Star appliances (some of the more ‘green’ products on the market), or Sundanzer appliance (made for use
with solar PV systems)
However, first you will want to reduce your bill by doing the easy stuff.
Try these easy tips first:
Turn down your thermostat in winter by 2-5 degrees (wear a sweater, or practice zone heating)
Turn up your thermostat in summer by 2-5 degrees (or see my cooling earth tube tip below)
Caulk all leaks, such as around window and door mouldings
Air seal/insulate electrical sockets
Put a thermal blanket on your water heater
Use insulating curtains at night
Get rid of wasteful electric-using devices in the house (anything from hair dryers to superfluous energy-wasters to
electronic that stay on all the time, or unplug when not in use)
Medium-level tips for reducing far more energy consumption:
Insulate with extruded polystyrene around your foundation
Place more insulation on the exterior of your walls next time you replace siding
Place more insulating on the interior of your walls, plus add thermal mass (rock, brick, cob, etc.) as your final surface
Double or triple your ceiling insulation (the payback in savings is worth it!)
Eliminate thermal bridging (places in the walls/foundation that transfer heat/cold)
Replace your appliances with Energy Star appliances
Make earth tubes for natural cooling
Replace hot water tank with an on-demand point-of-use water heater
More expensive, but most impactful tips:
Replace your winters with double or triple pane windows
Replace your HVAC system with a geothermal heat pump
Install a MHRV (mechanical heating recovery ventilation) unit that recycles 80% warm air, and improves
IAQ (indoor air quality)
Install a wind or solar PV (photovoltaic) system
Consider moving – buy an super energy efficient house and get rid of that crappy place you live now
LEAST EXPENSIVE investment – Build your own house to reduce your electric bills by a whopping 90%!
Most houses are built wrong, due to house design blunders commonly made by building contractors. Did you know that you can take your time and build an energy efficient tiny house that is actually a “core house” that can be added onto later to make a big house? Also, through some easy frugal buy-and-barter methods you can save a ton of money on building materials (10-20% or even up to 100% of the cost of the home if you are very creative), plus save another 60% of the cost of building a house by building the home yourself! This means that altogether you could easily save 80-90% of the cost of building your home, plus save another 80-90% on the heating and cooling bills if you design it right. These three things are all you need:
1) design it passive solar
2) build it green
3) build it yourself