Energy-efficiency can seem like an impossible goal—not everyone has the ability to add solar panels to their roof or install a fleet of brand-new green appliances. But there's a lot you can do for your home without spending much upfront money—and they have real results when it comes your utility bills.
Here are a few easy ways to improve your house's energy efficiency.
Reduce Your Water Usage
It might be easier said than done, but reducing the amount of water you use in your home can make a big difference on your utility bills. And while ensuring you don't leave the sink running while you brush your teeth, holding yourself to an eight-minute shower or using the most efficient settings on your washer are good methods if you have the self-control, you can also install mechanisms that reduce usage for you. Take a look at low-flow toilets or, for a quicker fix, try installing a low-flow shower head—it can cut your water usage in half when showering!
Monitor Bill Abnormalities
It can be tempting to simply toss that water or gas billing statement in the trash once it's been paid, but it can be worth a second look. One of the easiest ways to spot a leak or overflow is to keep tabs on your monthly billed amount to spot spikes. This is especially important for accounts that are on autopay that you might otherwise set and forget. Make an effort to check your measurements at least quarterly to see if you notice any sudden changes in what you're using.
Strategize Your Thermostat
Manually resetting your thermostat each time you enter or exit your home can be tiring—and it's easy to forget it when you're in a rush to leave. So invest in a thermostat with the ability to set temperatures for certain times of day and days of the week. Set it according to your schedule (and comfort level) and preserve your heat expenditures for the coldest times of day (nighttime) and when you're most likely to be in the home.
Trap in Heat or Cold
This one will do more than just reduce your utility costs—it will make your life more comfortable. Considering we South Dakotans are more than used to extreme temperatures, sealing windows or adding an extra barrier between the outside and the inside can decrease the amount of strain on your furnace or air conditioner. Make sure to seal any cracks in window panes or walls, and try feeling around for sources of leaks in outside-facing doors and windows.
Take Advantage of Natural Heat
When it comes to below-zero temperatures through the winter-time, sunshine can come in handy. Strategically open your window shades or blinds during sunny daytime hours to gain a helping hand in keeping your house warm—the south- and east-side windows will be most advantageous. Then make sure to close those shades once the sun goes down to trap that heat indoors.