Stuck at home during COVID-19? Here are 37 ways to make your home energy efficient and save

You’ve already binged Tiger King, attempted to bake bread from scratch and completed that 1,000+ jigsaw puzzle. While you are stuck at home as we continue to socially distance, here are 37 things you can do around the house to make your home more energy efficient and save you money.

Regularly clean appliances

Even a little dust means your AC will have to work harder to get through the dirt.

  1. Vacuum registers and vents regularly to dramatically improve their efficiency. 
  2. Once a month. clean or change the filter in your furnace.
  3. Maintain your central air conditioner by cleaning the outside compressor with a garden hose (be sure to shut off power at the fuse or breaker first). 
  4. Vacuum the refrigerator coils about twice a year to keep the compressor running efficiently. 
  5. Dust light fixtures regularly. 

Look for leaks

Gaps in doors and window panes can let cool air out, causing you to run your AC even more.

  1. Check window panes to see if they need new glazing. If the glass is loose, replace the putty holding the pane in place. 
  2. If drafts sneak in under exterior doors, replace the threshold.
  3. Add fireproof caulk where the chimney meets the wall, inside and outside. 
  4. If you never use your fireplace, plug the chimney with fiberglass insulation and seal the doors with silicone caulk. 
  5. Seal the edges of unused doors and windows with rope caulk.
  6. Fix leaky faucets, especially if it's a hot water faucet. One drop per second can add up to 165 gallons a month - that's more than one person uses in two weeks.
  7. Check the seal on your refrigerator door by closing it on a dollar bill. If you can pull the bill out easily, it's time to replace the gaskets
  8. Make sure the access to your attic is sealed. You can also put insulation on the back of your access door.
  9. Get a thermal link detector to identify hidden sources of cold or hot air entering your home. A side benefit is that they're really cool and you can use them telling how hot your pans are when you cook!
  10. Use safety plugs in all unused outlets. These are prime places for outside air to leak into your home. 

Rearrange furniture

It’s like the feng shui of air flow so your AC works less to cool rooms. 

  1. Don't let furniture and draperies block the air flow from heating and cooling vents.
  2. Keep plantings at least one foot away from your central air conditioning unit for adequate airflow.
  3. Shade south- and west- facing windows during the hottest part of the day in the summer. 
  4. If your home has a boiler system, avoid covering radiators with screens or blocking them with furniture. 
  5. Keep the area surrounding your outside air conditioning unit clear for adequate airflow.
  6. Keep lamps away from thermostats.
  7. Place humidifiers and dehumidifiers away from walls and bulky furniture
  8. If your home has no sidewall insulation, place heavy furniture like bookshelves, armoires and sofas along exterior walls, and use decorative quilts as wall hangings. 
  9. Install reflective window film to help reduce heat gain during the summer – it will also keep furniture and carpets from fading. 
  10. A reflecting panel behind your radiators can prevent up to 25% of heat loss into the wall.
  11. Decorate with pale colors on walls, ceilings and floors. You will use less light.
  12. Get rid of spare refrigerators or freezers. 
  13. If your water heater is more than 15 years old, install an insulating wrap to reduce "standby" heat loss.

Plant a tree

Not only will it spruce up your yard, but it will keep your house cooler during the summer.

  1. Plant a tree: one well-placed shade tree can reduce your cooling costs by 25%. 
  2. When planting trees, place leafy shade trees to the south and west, and evergreens to the north.
  3. Plant short, dense shrubs close to your home's foundation to help insulate your home against cold. 
  4. Plant local species of trees. Find the trees best for your area at the Arbor Day Foundation.

A little extra

If you are done with the rest of the list, here's a list of things to install that can help reduce usage.

  1. Shop during the off-season. Many heating and cooling manufacturers offer significant rebates during seasonal sales promotions, and dealers may charge less for installation. 
  2. Use CFL lightbulbs in your home. Get them for under a buck if you buy in bulk.
  3. Use light dimmers. Be careful with CFC bulbs because they may not be compatible with dimmer switches.
  4. Use motion sensors in your switches to have lights turn off when no one is in the room.
  5. Install timers on lights and appliances that tend to be left on for longer than they are needed.

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