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    8 Tips for Energy-Efficient Home Improvements

    Energy optimization has become a common feature among homeowners when improving their homes. This optimization can help maximize your overall financial savings. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates the typical household can save 25%⁠—roughly $2,200 annually⁠—on utility bills by taking measures to improve energy efficiency.

    Optimizing the energy use in your home may come in the form of physical home improvement like additions or changing your at-home habits. Experts say that U.S. consumers could save $26 trillion by 2030 if we start living sustainably. If you’re ready to start your next home improvement project, we hope you’ll use our tips for eco-friendly updates.

    Tip #1: Conduct an energy audit of your home.

    Did you know a faucet leaking a single drop of water can add up to 165 gallons of water to your monthly bill? Or that using an energy-smart washing machine can save more water in one year than one person drinks in their entire lifetime? Conducting an energy audit of your home can help you identify problem areas and prioritize improvements that will have the greatest impact on your energy consumption.

    Tip #2: Line your driveway with drought-tolerant plants.

    According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, of the 29 billion gallons of water used daily by households in the U.S., roughly 9 billion (30%) is used for outdoor water use. During dry climates or hot summer months, outdoor water use can be as high as 70%.

    To conserve water usage, consider planting drought-tolerant plants, also known as drought-resistant plants, as they are very low maintenance and affordable. They’re also great for the environment, as they cut down on water use.

    Tip #3: Switch to energy-efficient LED light bulbs.

    Older, incandescent light bulbs are no longer being manufactured and used in U.S. households because they use a lot more energy—and 90% of it is lost as heat. According to the Department of Energy, “Switching to energy-efficient lighting is one of the fastest ways to cut your energy bills. By replacing your home's five most frequently used light bulbs with more efficient LED models, you can save $45 each year.”

    Tip #4: Change your air filters to lower your energy consumption.

    Dirty filters can cause many issues, including higher energy bills. If you haven’t already, set a 30-day reminder to check and change your air filters. Even if you have a more durable filter, you should still have a reminder to check-in and make sure everything is running efficiently.

    Tip #5: Reduce energy expenses by installing a skylight and daylighting.

    Did you know that 40% of your home’s energy usage comes directly from artificial lighting? If you have a bathroom, utility room, or even hallway that isn’t exposed to natural light through a window, consider installing a skylight. This light-filled pane will provide natural illumination, which means you’ll use less energy fueling artificial light.

    Tip #6: Reduce the loss of heat and air

    Did you know 25-30% of your home’s heating and cooling usage is due to heat and air loss? Some of us may have heard once in our life to close the door and not let the air out. Even if doors and windows are shut, if they are old, uninsulated, or improperly installed and sealed, air and heat from your home can escape, increasing your energy costs.

    Installing weather-stripping, sealing leaks, and upgrading doors and windows can help reduce the loss of energy. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends purchasing Energy Star labeled products for your home improvements as this can help you narrow down energy-efficient products that can better benefit you.

    Tip #7: Regulate the temperature in your home.

    Did you know you can save as much as 10% per year just by setting your thermostat back from its normal setting by seven to 10 degrees for eight hours each day? This time period may be when you are away from home for the day to save on energy.

    Tip #8: Conserve water.

    Water heating is the second-largest energy expense in a home and can account for about 18% of a utility bill. If your home uses more than 40 gallons of water per day (a family of four consumes up to 260 gallons daily), you may consider installing a more energy-efficient water heater. A demand water heater can be 24- 34% more energy efficient than the conventional storage water heater.

    There are many benefits to cutting our energy costs—both for Mother Earth and for your pocketbook. Join us in celebrating Earth Day by using the tips above!

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    Marcia Messer

    Marcia Messer is a Loan Officer with SWBC Mortgage. She works tirelessly to help her clients achieve their goal of home ownership and is committed to making the experience positive and memorable. NMLS #: 222428

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