The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) 2018 State of the Global Climate Report warns of the negative ways extreme weather is affecting the planet. Stating it has an "impact on lives and sustainable development on every continent.” These extremes include both heat waves and cold spells. Heating and cooling your home can be expensive. Here are ways to maximize energy efficiency in your home to minimize unnecessary costs related to climate change.
1. Do an energy audit
On your iPhone, you can look at which Apps use the most battery life on your phone. Do the same for your home. Ask your utility company if they will conduct an energy audit. Many will do so for free. It’s a good way to get clarity on your heating and cooling systems. Your existing systems may need an upgrade. Or, installing a new system may be the best option. Studies show that updating a home’s heating and cooling equipment can reduce energy use by 20% or more. That quickly adds up to a big savings on your energy costs over the long run.
2. Add insulation to your home
Effective insulation helps keep your home cool in summer and warm in winter. According to the United States Energy Department heating and cooling account for 50% to 70% of the energy used in the average American home. Decreasing the amount of energy needed with insulation can substantially reduce energy costs. Stone wool has been cited as a good “green” option. Look for select products that are best for insulating specific areas of the house. These include the attic, floor, walls and flat roofs. Ask the professional energy auditor to give you room-by-room recommendations to help pick your stone wool and other products with confidence.
3. Plant trees around the perimeter of your home
Smart landscaping is a natural way to maximize the warming effects of the sun in the winter and cooling effects of shade during the summer. It can also deflect wind and channel summer breezes. Energy.gov in the United States has excellent landscaping strategies to make your home energy efficient. Not just with well-placed trees but also shrubs and vines. Consult with an expert landscaper in your area before planting. For example, you may have regional wildfire concerns. Also, how trees grow and mature in size are factors. Avoid a time-consuming “oops” moment. Make sure to choose the best trees and vegetation for your specific needs.
4. Buy energy-efficient products
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency voluntary program ENERGY STAR is on a mission to help “businesses and individuals save money and protect our climate through superior energy efficiency”. It’s not just about solar or wind power. Here you’ll find products with the ENERGY STAR government-backed symbol certified for energy efficiency. This is a terrific resource for information on buying appliances. There is also information on ENERGY STAR Certified New Homes. And how to retrofit existing homes for improved energy efficiency.
5. Don’t forget the seemingly little energy savers
Unplugging battery chargers for your cell phone, laptop, kitchen appliances, etc. when they aren’t in use can save a lot of energy. So too can sealing windows and doors, lowering your thermostat, washing clothes in cold water when possible, upgrading to energy efficient windows, replacing Incandescent Bulbs, and yes – turning off the lights when you leave the room. Climate change can be complicated. Prepping your home for it doesn’t have to be. The simple solutions can yield impactful results.