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Save on utilities with this DIY home energy assessment

A Black woman in a gray sweater adjusts her smart thermometer with the temperature displayed on her smartphone

Energy bills are a part and parcel of owning a home. According to move.org, the average American household spends over $175 a month on electricity and natural gas, or over $2,100 a year! It may be tempting to go to extreme lengths to keep energy costs low, but before you layer up, it’s helpful to go through your house and make sure nothing is letting all that heat (and money) out of your home and into the neighborhood. Use this DIY home energy assessment to make yourself comfortable without breaking the bank.

Check your door and window seals

Making sure your home is properly sealed is a major factor in your home’s ability to retain heat or cold air. There are a few main categories to examine to assess the state of your home:

Door and window seals

Aging door and window seals and a lack of home insulation can be the difference between making small adjustments to keep your home cozy and having to crank the thermostat. Broken seals on windows are particularly notorious for letting air through, which can drive up your energy bills when heating and cooling your home. But these aren’t the only seals to check in your house—damaged fridge seals and freezer seals can also make a home more costly to run.

When it comes to energy saving insulation, the US Department of Energy advises that you check your home’s air ducts and attics which Help make your air distribution system more efficient by keeping furniture and dust away from any power inlets or outlets.

A white person's hand unplugs two white cords from a white outlet

 

Turn Off and Unplug

Homeowners are becoming more tech-driven than ever, but many of these devices end up becoming energy vampires that drain electricity and can sink your home budget. In fact, the Natural Resources Defense Council discovered that around 25% of your total energy use is from electronics that are not actively in use.

If you want to see a significant reduction in your electric bill, smart plugs are a great way to shut off energy at the source while hardly lifting a finger. If you prefer the low-tech route, simply unplug and turn off unused devices until you’re ready to use them again.

Use appliances that rank high on the Energy Star rating scale

Compared to the average appliance, Energy Star appliances (as described at energystar.gov) are certified to help reduce your energy consumption by as much as 50%! While an Energy Star appliance may cost a bit more at the register in some cases, it can readily pay for itself by saving you tons in energy costs throughout the appliance’s life cycle.

Here is just the tip of the iceberg of the benefits of Energy Star appliances:

  • A typical Energy Star fridge costs about $50 a year to run and uses less energy than a 60-watt bulb.
  • A new Energy Star dishwasher costs less than $35 a year to run and saves roughly 1,900 gallons of water before it’s replaced.
  • An Energy Star clothes washer can cut your energy costs by 1/3 and reduce your water costs by 50%.

When it’s time to replace an appliance in your home, choosing one with the Energy Star seal is a smart move for any homeowner.

Add smart energy saving devices to your home

Smart energy saving devices are one of the easiest ways to cut back on energy use, and when powered by today’s automated smart home hubs, they enable you to track and run numerous devices, appliances, and systems around your home from your phone, tablet, or the hub’s built-in voice assistant.

From smart bulbs and thermostats to smart plugs and power strips, there are numerous ways to control, monitor, and optimize your energy use while maintaining optimal comfort—and the list of gadgets is only growing!

A row of 5 utility meters on a brick wall

 

Get an Energy Audit

What is an energy audit? While this DIY assessment is a great start, you can schedule one of these to gain good insight into how and where energy is used in your home. An energy audit can also help you learn how to lower your energy bills and what steps to take to fix concerns. Many energy companies offer professional energy audits to homeowners at no charge.

By following the tips in this guide (and even the recommendations an energy audit may uncover), you can make your home more energy efficient—and easier on your budget.