Have you checked your energy bill? Chances you saw a bit of a spike last month. Even if you went without holiday lights, you probably used a lot of energy just trying to keep your house warm.
If your utility bills are causing sticker shock, then now may be the time to make your home more eco-friendly. Doing this not only helps lower your energy costs, but it can combat climate change. We’ve come up with three options for making a more energy-efficient home to help homeowners go green this winter. Take a look!
Install solar panels
The typical American household uses
(kWh) of electricity per year, or approximately 886 kWh each month. But during the winter, that can jump to
per month. An increase in usage like that often translates into skyrocketing energy bills.
Solar panels are an effective way to combat this cost. When they’re properly installed, residential solar panels reduce the amount of energy being produced in your home and can save you up to
90% on monthly electricity bills
. That’s true even in the winter because solar panels rely strictly on sunlight to produce electricity. As long as there’s light, they’ll work no matter how cold it is outside.
Before you switch to solar, however, you’ll want to do some research. There are four different
home solar panel systems
you can choose from:
- Grid-tied systems that are permanently connected to your local utility’s power grid so you can supplement your solar energy.
- Off-grid systems that aren’t connected to a power grid.
- Grid-tied systems with back-up solar batteries.
- Solar leases that you rent.
Each has its own benefits, but ultimately it’s up to you to decide the best fit for your home. You’ll also want to think about your roof material and shape. Some roofs are better for solar panels than others. You’ll also want to pay attention to the price. Installing solar panels can be expensive, costing anywhere between $15,000 to $31,000 depending on the model you choose.
Another important consideration? Your insurance. Homeowners policies typically cover solar panels you own that are permanently attached to your roof. Solar leases may require separate coverage.
Use a smart thermostat
Cold temperatures affect most of the country throughout the winter, making heating systems necessary to heat an entire house. But traditional heating systems can eat up a lot of energy. The average electric furnace uses
every week. Worse? You may even be wasting energy if your furnace runs when you don’t need it.
One solution is to install a smart thermostat. By automatically lowering the temperature in your home when you don’t need it – or even letting you monitor it remotely! – these thermostats help use your home’s energy more sustainably and reduce your energy bill.
These days, there are a ton of options to choose from, but ultimately, you have three main
types of smart thermostats
- Motion sensor. Similar to motion detection lights, smart thermostats with motion sensors activate when they recognize when someone is in your home.
- Geofencing. This type of smart thermostat creates a “fence” around your home. When you go beyond the fence, the thermostat adjusts the temperature in your house to help save energy.
- Learning algorithms. Typically, you need to program your schedule into this type of smart thermostat so over time it can learn your living pattern and adjust the temperature automatically.
Installation may cost a few hundred dollars, but the savings usually make the upfront costs worth it.
Choose reusable materials
People may not realize how much waste they create during the holidays. On average, Americans throw away
25% more trash
from Thanksgiving to New Year, including plastic cups, plastic silverware, paper plates, and more.
You can reduce the amount of waste you generate by using more reusable materials. For example, you could opt for mugs when you drink hot chocolate or coffee and real silverware and plates for when you have family over for the holidays.
Switching to reusable materials means you’ll not just cut down on unnecessary waste and ultimately lower your carbon footprint, but you’ll save you money in the long run. Constantly replacing single-use items is expensive – even if you buy cheap things you don’t mind tossing.
Using real silverware and plates is an easy fix to use instead of buying one-use materials. It saves you money in the long run from constantly replacing plastic and paper materials while simultaneously protecting the environment from added waste.
The bottom line on going green this winter
Environmental concerns may not be the first thing that comes to mind in the middle of winter, but taking care of the earth is something we can do all year round. While these tips may not be for all households, we encourage everyone to look for ways to go green this season.