Home Energy Efficiency: 15 Practical Steps to Cut Emissions

Utilizing existing technologies to lower household carbon emissions and electric consumption is often the best path for individuals and families to achieve a Clean Energy Life. 

Between lower utility bills and longer-lasting equipment, upgrading to Energy Star and energy-efficient appliances can confer several benefits for homeowners. 

In addition, adopting new habits for electric use and consumption can also drastically lower utility bills and cut down on emissions. 

This guide will explain how to make your home more energy efficient with a few lifestyle changes and affordable energy efficiency upgrades.

1. Get a Home Energy Audit

If you’re looking for more ways to maximize your home’s energy efficiency, then performing an energy audit can help. Home energy audits provide a roadmap for homeowners to explore energy savings opportunities based on which investments provide them with the best return. 

Energy audits cover multiple areas of your home, from its insulation R-value to the efficiency of your HVAC system. 

Use your home energy audit findings to explore additional energy efficiency opportunities where you can save the most money and also reduce your household carbon footprint. 

2. Upgrade Your Insulation

One of the most important aspects of a home energy audit is grading your home’s insulation. Unlike heating and cooling systems, upgrading to new insulation materials are an incredibly affordable and easy DIY project. 

Unfortunately, many older homes still rely on fiberglass batt insulation that is prone to mold. However, many newer products like cellulose and mineral wool have higher R-values (insulation values) than fiberglass and are less toxic. 

Furthermore, many older homes don’t have insulation in walls or floors and only in limited spaces in the attic or basement. Around 35% of all heat loss occurs through walls, while poorly insulated floors, basements, and attics can cause homes to lose over 50% of the heat their furnaces kick out. 

Some insulation tips we recommend include sealing all gaps with spray foam, including around exterior openings (think pipes) and rim joists. 

We also recommend sealing all walls and floors with rigid foam insulation and spray foam. 

3. Replace Old Windows and Door

While estimates vary, an old window could account for around 10% to 25% of a home’s heat loss. This is because heat can seep through old window frames during the slow convection process through a window’s glazing. 

Similarly, old doors can account for up to 10% of heat loss in any home. 

Start by caulking openings between old doors and window frames that may have separated over time. Next, install insulating material around the frames of doors for added defense. 

However, you may have to upgrade to an energy-efficient window with multiple glass panes to see an incredible difference in your heat bill. In addition, fiberglass doors may provide better insulation value for your home and reduce heat loss almost entirely. 

4. Seal Ductwork and Hot Water Heaters

Another way to insulate your home is to insulate the vents that deliver heat throughout your home. Uninsulated ductwork could lead to heat loss in areas of your home that don’t require heating, such as in the basement or attic walls. 

Similarly, water heaters may lose heat transmitting hot water to your sink or tub due to uninsulated pipes with poor R-values. 

Consider sealing all ductwork and hot water pipes with appropriate insulation to make your home more comfortable and save some heat.

5. Clean and Service Your HVAC Systems

Furthermore, if you want to maximize the efficiency of your air conditioner or furnace, it’s important to service these utilities every year. Cleaning and lubricating the internal components of your furnace will not only allow it to run longer but also more efficiently.

Similarly, cleaning the filter or your A/C unit and getting it professionally serviced will increase its shelf life and allow it to run more cleanly and efficiently. 

6. Switch to LED Bulbs

Switching to LED bulbs is one of the most cost-effective and easy DIY energy-saving projects you can complete. 

According to the Department of Energy, LED bulbs consume 90% less energy and last 25x longer than incandescent bulbs. 

7. Leverage Natural Light

Speaking of heat and light, there is no greater source than the sun. So finding ways to create more natural light in your home during the day can allow the sun to heat and illuminate your home at no cost to you. 

Otherwise known as daylighting, most experts recommend installing south-facing windows for the best temperature regulation during winter and summer, while emitting less carbon or greenhouse gasses. Additionally, this will allow you to enjoy the most natural light daily. 

8. Purchase a Smart Thermostat

Another practical tip to reduce energy consumption is raising or lowering your thermostat. Unfortunately, it’s very easy to forget to lower your thermostat, and returning to a cold home in the middle of winter can be frustrating. 

Thankfully, you can program your smart thermostat to lower your heating and cooling consumption during down times of the day, so you save money and come back to a comfortable home. 

According to Energy Star, a smart thermostat could save homeowners 8% of their total heating costs–which may make up for lost money due to rising prices and inflation. 

9. Use Energy Star Appliances

Energy Star appliances are built to specific standards of energy efficiency that outpace any other product on the market. According to one estimate, Energy Star homes are 10% more energy efficient than standard homes built to code. 


You can purchase several types of energy star appliances, including energy-efficient refrigerators, dryers, dehumidifiers, etc. 


Some appliances, such as Energy Star heat pumps and hot water heat pumps, also qualify for special tax rebates making them more affordable. 

The best part of Energy Star appliances is that you can enjoy an energy-efficient home on autopilot without having to do much work yourself except purchase the appliances. 

10. Unplug Appliances When Not in Use

If purchasing brand-new appliances is not affordable, then another way to reduce our carbon footprint is to reduce our electric consumption. While Energy Star appliances save you money on autopilot, your current appliances are robbing your money on autopilot even when they are not in use. 


Otherwise known as phantom load, appliances that are left plugged in could result in a 10% increase in your electricity consumption, according to The National Resources Defense Council. 

Simply unplugging electronics or upgrading to smart power strips could help you save money and reduce consumption without cutting down on usage.

11. Wash Clothes with Cold Water

Another way to reduce consumption without reducing your use of various appliances is to wash your clothes in cold water. 

Consumer Reports estimated that washing your clothes in cold water can save you $60 annually and still be just as effective as washing your clothes in warm water. 

12. Switch to a Laptop

Another massive source of power may be your desktop computer. Fortunately, laptops offer an efficient alternative, consuming around 20% of the average desktop computer’s electricity. 

However, just be sure to unplug your charger when it’s not in use and always let the battery die to preserve its longevity. 

13. Cook with More Efficient Appliances

Another massive source of power may be your desktop computer. Fortunately, laptops offer an efficient alternative, consuming around 20% of the average desktop computer’s electricity. 

However, just be sure to unplug your charger when it’s not in use and always let the battery die to preserve its longevity. 

14. Try Composting

While composting may not relate directly to energy efficiency, we like to think of it as an energy offset. According to one website, composting food scraps from eight homes could offset the electrical consumption of one home annually. 

One major aspect of energy efficiency is consumption and waste. So if we’re in the business of reducing your energy waste, reducing your physical waste is an essential step to making your home cleaner and more efficient overall.

15. Install Solar Panels

Solar panels are another great alternative to help you cut down on household carbon and greenhouse emissions and make you energy independent. The average solar panel lasts 40 years and pays for itself in ten years. 

Furthermore, solar panels will drastically reduce your energy consumption; as this technology evolves, they will only become more efficient. 

Many solar panels also come with a tax credit designed to make them more affordable for the average consumer. 

For more ways to save money and reduce your carbon footprint, read about 7 Ways to Power Your Home with Renewable Energy Sources.

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